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Discussing John Locke's Second Treatise on Government (1690).
What makes political power legitimate? Like Hobbes, Locke thinks that things are less than ideal without a society to keep people from killing us, so we implicitly sign a social contract giving power to the state. But for Locke, nature's not as bad, so the state is given less power. But how much less? And what does Locke think about tea partying, kids, women, acorns, foreign travelers, and calling dibs?
This was recorded way back in April 2011 and features Mark, Seth, and guest Sabrina Weiss filling in for Wes (Dylan hadn't yet joined the team). Hear Sabrina's return on our 2019 Game of Thrones episode, the prototype for Pretty Much Pop.
Read along with us with online or buy the book.
End song: "Lock Them Away," by Mark Lint (2003).
Hear the full, new reconsideration of this episode by Mark, Wes, and Dylan on the latest Nightcap available via partiallyexaminedlife.com/support.
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Nathan Likert says
This would be a great time for an episode on Carl Schmitt. He’s kind of like the modern Hobbes: politics can only be based on a “decision,” some kind of absolute authority that takes on all power in crisis moments in order to secure the state. Schmitt disses the Lockean liberals, for whom divided sovereignty and debate are just endless deferments of who, in the end, has to make the decision. But he also disses anarchists, for whom the goodness of man means every man is sovereign at the same time, which for Schmitt leads to absurd positivism and universalism. For him the state is always defined against “enemies,” and a single authority defends a unified way of life (recalling communitarian critiques of liberalism from Macintyre and Sandel) against alternatives. He’s like if Heidegger wrote politics (joined the Nazi Party in the same month as Heidegger). Plus, as Trump leaves (or not), it’s a good time to check in on a philosopher with interesting parallels and differences: https://www.lawfareblog.com/donald-trumps-state-exception
His two main books, The Concept of the Political, and Political Theology, are very short – 65 pages each!
Nathan Likert says
Gonna plug this again after the events of this week! I also want to request Leo Strauss’s On Tyranny (he’s the teacher of Allan Bloom). This is his interpretation of a dialogue of Xenophon’s on that subject, and the book includes his debate with Alexander Kojeve, the Hegelian, on whether the philosopher should serve the state or remain apart from it.
Mark Baur says
Listening to Mark riff on waging a just war against dolphins put me in mind of that Arthur Lee lyric:
Oh, the snot has caked against my pants
It has turned into crystal
There’s a bluebird sitting on a branch
I guess I’ll take my pistol
I’ve got it in my hand
Because he’s on my land
I had never before considered it all its philosophical depth!