John Locke and Modern Life


This book recovers a sense of John Locke’s central role in the making of the modern world. It demonstrates that his vision of modern life was constructed on a philosophy of human freedom that is the intellectual nerve connecting the various strands of his thought. By revealing the depth and originality of Locke’s critique of the metaphysical assumptions and authoritative institutions of pre-modern life, this book rejects the notion of Locke as an intellectual anachronism. Indeed, the radical core of Locke’s modern project was the “democratization of mind,” according to which he challenged practically every previous mode of philosophical analysis by making the autonomous individual the sole determinant of truth. It was on the basis of this new philosophical dispensation that Locke crafted a modern vision not only of government but also of the churches, the family, education, and the conduct of international relations.


 Reviews:

“Lee Ward is an intellectual provocateur of the finest sort. In this gracefully written volume, he insists that we take John Locke seriously as a systematic thinker; he challenges the notion that the argument presented in the Two Treatises of Government is at odds with that presented in An Essay concerning Human Understanding; and he shows us that the program that the English philosopher articulated in his mature works with respect to the first principles of government, constitutional prudence, marriage, the family, education, religion, and the conduct of foreign policy forms a comprehensive and consistent whole.”
—Paul A. Rahe, Hillsdale College

“Ward’s John Locke and Modern Life is one of the most impressive of this generation’s studies of Locke. Almost all previous studies have focused on one or another of Locke's works or on one or another of the themes in his works. Ward gives a comprehensive account of Locke's moral and political philosophy as a whole and in relation to ‘modern life’: i.e., in terms of the implications of Locke for how modern life has evolved and for guidance on how it ought to be. Given the explosion of Locke scholarship, Ward is particularly impressive in his ability to encompass so much of this literature and to settle in a clear, moderate, persuasive way many of the most controversial issues in the literature, an achievement much helped along by the much more synoptic view of Locke’s corpus that he takes.”
—Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame

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Martin Seliger , The Liberal Politics of John Locke [London: Praeger, 1968]
Robert Kingdon , “Calvinism and Resistance Theory, 1550–1580,” in Cambridge History of Political Thought, 1450–1700, J. H. Burns and Mark Goldie , eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991

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Clement Fatovic , “Constitutionalism and Contingency: Locke's Theory of Prerogative” History of Political Thought, 25, 2 (Summer 2004): 278–284
Pasquale Pasquino , “Locke on King's Prerogative” Political Theory, 26, 2 (April 1998): 198–201
Martin Seliger , The Liberal Politics of John Locke (London: Allen & Unwin, 1968)

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John Locke , Two Treatises of Government, Peter Laslett , ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965)

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