Second Treatise of Government | Study Guide

John Locke

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Second Treatise of Government Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 May 2018. Web. 20 Aug. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Second-Treatise-of-Government/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2018, May 7). Second Treatise of Government Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Second-Treatise-of-Government/

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Second Treatise of Government Study Guide." May 7, 2018. Accessed August 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Second-Treatise-of-Government/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Second Treatise of Government Study Guide," May 7, 2018, accessed August 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Second-Treatise-of-Government/.

Second Treatise of Government | Preface | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

Addressing the reader directly, Locke declares that he hopes his work will justify King William III's right and title to the English throne. He says that William rules by the consent of the people, which is the only lawful basis for government.

Locke singles out Sir Robert Filmer (c. 1588-1653), a supporter of absolute monarchy and the doctrine of divine right, as one of his chief opponents. Filmer's work, in Locke's opinion, amounts to "glib nonsense," and he challenges the reader to make sense of it. Filmer's work, Locke says, would not be worth the trouble of refuting, if there were not people who had been persuaded by it. As for Locke's own work, cavils and railing will not suffice since they do not take the place of reason and argument.

Analysis

Locke's brief preface gives the reader a clear indication of his approach and style. He declares his purpose in writing without delay, and he tackles Sir Robert Filmer as one of his most redoubtable opponents. Filmer, who believed in the doctrine of the divine right of kings and thus in absolute monarchy, is formidable. That is not because his theory of government is correct, but because his "glib nonsense" has managed to persuade some people. Locke finds Filmer's work full of "mistakes and inconsistencies." As for himself, Locke promises to deal with any critics who are "concerned really for truth." However, they must remember that petty objections and inflated ranting are not the same as clear reason and logical argument.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Second Treatise of Government? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!