Sect. 125. Secondly, In the state of
nature there wants a known and indifferent judge, with authority
to determine all differences according to the established law: for every
one in that state being both judge and executioner of the law of nature,
men being partial to themselves, passion and revenge is very apt to carry
them too far, and with too much heat, in their own cases; as well as
negligence, and unconcernedness, to make them too remiss in other men's.
Sect. 126. Thirdly, In the state of
nature there often wants power to back and support the sentence
when right, and to give it due execution. They who by
any injustice offended, will seldom fail, where they are able, by force
to make good their injustice; such resistance many times makes the
punishment dangerous, and frequently destructive, to those who attempt
Sect. 127. Thus mankind, notwithstanding all
the privileges of the state of nature, being but in an ill condition,
while they remain in it, are quickly driven into society. Hence it comes
to pass, that we seldom find any number of men live any time together in
this state. The inconveniencies that they are therein exposed to, by the
irregular and uncertain exercise of the power every man has of punishing
the transgressions of others, make them take sanctuary under the
established laws of government, and therein seek the preservation of
their property. It is this makes them so willingly give up every one
his single power of punishing, to be exercised by such alone, as shall be
appointed to it amongst them; and by such rules as the community, or those
authorized by them to that purpose, shall agree on. And in this we have
the original right and rise of both the legislative and executive
power, as well as of the governments and societies themselves.
Sect. 128. For in the state of nature, to omit
the liberty he has of innocent delights, a man has two powers.
The first is to do whatsoever he thinks fit for the preservation of
himself, and others within the permission of the law of nature:
by which law, common to them all, he and all the rest of mankind are
one community, make up one society, distinct from all other
creatures. And were it not for the corruption and vitiousness of
degenerate men, there would be no need of any other; no necessity that men
should separate from this great and natural community, and by positive
agreements combine into smaller and divided associations.
The other power a man has in the state of nature, is the
power to punish the crimes committed against that law. Both
these he gives up, when he joins in a private, if I may so call it, or
particular politic society, and incorporates into any common-wealth,
separate from the rest of mankind.
Sect. 129. The first power, viz.
of doing whatsoever he thought for the preservation of himself, and
the rest of mankind, he gives up to be regulated by laws made by
the society, so far forth as the preservation of himself, and the rest of
that society shall require; which laws of the society in many things
confine the liberty he had by the law of nature.
Sect. 130. Secondly, The power of
punishing he wholly gives up, and engages his natural force, (which
he might before employ in the execution of the law of nature, by his own
single authority, as he thought fit) to assist the executive power of the
society, as the law thereof shall require: for being now in a new state,
wherein he is to enjoy many conveniencies, from the labour, assistance,
and society of others in the same community, as well as protection from
its whole strength; he is to part also with as much of his natural
liberty, in providing for himself, as the good, prosperity, and safety of
the society shall require; which is not only necessary, but just, since
the other members of the society do the like.
Sect. 131. But though men, when they enter into
society, give up the equality, liberty, and executive power they had in
the state of nature, into the hands of the society, to be so far disposed
of by the legislative, as the good of the society shall require; yet it
being only with an intention in every one the better to preserve himself,
his liberty and property; (for no rational creature can be supposed to
change his condition with an intention to be worse) the power of the
society, or legislative constituted by them, can never be
supposed to extend farther, than the common good; but is obliged to
secure every one's property, by providing against those three defects
above mentioned, that made the state of nature so unsafe and uneasy. And
so whoever has the legislative or supreme power of any common-wealth, is
bound to govern by established standing laws, promulgated and
known to the people, and not by extemporary decrees; by
indifferent and upright judges, who are to decide
controversies by those laws; and to employ the force of the community at
home, only in the execution of such laws, or abroad to prevent or
redress foreign injuries, and secure the community from inroads and
invasion. And all this to be directed to no other end, but the
peace, safety, and public good of the people.
Prev: Chapter VIII. |
Next: Chapter X.
The text digitized by Dave Gowan.
John Locke's "Second Treatise of Government" was published in 1690. The complete unabridged text has been republished several times in edited
commentaries. This is based on the paperback book, "John Locke Second Treatise of Government", Edited, with an Introduction, By C.B. McPherson, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis and Cambridge, 1980. None of the McPherson edition is included in the Etext; only the original words contained in the 1690 Locke text is included. The 1690 edition text is free of copyright.
This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, posted to Wiretap 1 Jul 94.
©Copyright, 2000, Mike Rosenberg