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John Locke

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John Locke was one of the earlier philosophers who based his work mainly on human knowledge and the religious tolerance. He brought out his thoughts on the relationship between the knowledge and ideas of human being on the existence of things. During Locke’s period, there were many philosophical postualtions with little or no criteria to refute substantiate the postulations. It is therefore important to critically discuss the different thoughts Locke had concerning the human understanding of knowledge in order to bring out various aspects and attributes. Furthermore, it is also important to explain how he was thought to criticize some of the evident facts concerning knowledge and the various approaches he employed. These thoughts were clearly brought out from his essay of human understanding of knowledge.  John Locke’s work was based mainly on the religious toleration and human understanding. One of the main topics on the John Locke’s philosophy is the religious tolerance which talked of the separation of the church and the state due to the religious problems of the time. During this time there were many levels at which the state conflicted with the church with each demanding allegaince from the people.  He argues that toleration in this case does not necessarily mean freedom of expression.  He insists that the state has a supreme duty to check at the application on whole nation’s peace and security. The local citizens are supposed to obey the heads prescription and furthermore abide to the state’s rules and regulations. It is only through such intrevention that the state can manage to maintain order within its jurisdictions.

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In his essay concerning human understanding Locke was greatly criticized for being a bit inconsistent. This is shown in his way of defining what knowledge is. He defines it as “the perception of the connection and agreement or disagreement and repugnancy, of any of our ideas”.  (Locke, 2004)This greatly differs with an idea he brought out later in his essay saying that every human being has three types of knowledge: intuitive knowledge of his or her own existence, knowledge of God’s existence which is termed as demonstrative and sensitive knowledge base on the existence of certain things on earth. The difference brought by the two views did not make him leave his position. He still held to his ideas and perhaps created the notion that he was not being understood.  According to Locke, his main idea of the essay of human understanding was to inquire into three major things of human knowledge; the origin, the certainty and the extent of it. Although John Locke did not offer anything on natural philosophy, he dealt deeply with the physical considerations of the mind and other matters concerning it and during this times these aspects consituted of the postulates of natural philosophy. He was also interested on the grounds as well as the degrees of beliefs and assent. He has been described as being vague mainly in his development of ideas as well as his presentation. In most instances his arguments are difficult to follow and inconsistent.  It was likely that this philosopher was persuaded that human beings possess a certain capacity for knowledge enough for their roles or purposes. This kind of Locke’s thoughts is all that placed him far much apart from most of the critical philosophers of the seventeenth century. The philosophers believed that by use of the new methods of mathematics and physical sciences it will be easier for them to get the reality of everything concerning knowledge. Locke saw that the idea of the philosophers of using sciences positioned reality far apart from the human mind instead Locke stuck to the reality of objective existence of seen substances. In the essay Locke denied the fact that the human understanding of things could know with certainty the real essence of the existing things.  (Locke, 2004)

Analysis of the Labor Theory of Acquisition

The labor acquisition theory by Locke attempts to philosophically explain matter pertaining to ownership of property and distribution of resources. Locke outlines that initially property ownership is common but when a person mixes the inherent property (labor), a person can transform common property into private property.  Locke’s argument is that ‘the world is a common property’ but ‘one can mix inherent property with common property’ and eventually his conclusion is that ‘common property can be converted to private property.’ There is a need to justify Locke’s conclusions by looking at his argument and the premise he uses to support his argument. The world indeed cannot be a common property because property should be something that the owner can access at any given time or sell towards the creation of wealth. The world is so big and there is no way that a person in Africa can access the rich herbal derivatives from the Amazon without having to go to Amazon. The distance factor is not one created by man but by nature. Locke was a believer and supported his arguments using scriptures therefore it is only obvious that he not only accepted but appreciated the fact. Secondly it would be impractical for a farmer in Asia who wants to use a piece of land to grow rice to visit all persons of the persons of the world or even of a given nation or community before making use of a particular piece of land. Therefore, the aspect of mixing properties makes practical Locke’s postulations of both private and common property. Locke justifies the theory by outlining that when a person mixes with a particular property the property is transformed to private. Locke outlines that a person has inherent property in terms of labor that can be used to acquire even more property. It therefore follows that although Locke brings into aspect of responsibility. Since property is common every person has a responsibility and right to use a portion of the property and preserve it appropriately. Therefore when a person mixes the inherent property (labor) with the outside property (resources), the person is just acting in his/her rights. Therefore, Locke introduces another contradictory aspect of private ownership of property in comparison to the common ownership. Locke then argues that in any instance private ownership of property overrides the aspect of common property. Locke supports this argument by outlining that most of the products in the world as they are being used, have some aspect of value added to them. This value is only added through the use of human labor. Labor functions to add value to property to convert it in a way that it can be used by persons. As outlined earlier, inherent property when mixed with common property has the capacity to convert the common property into private property. This relinquishes all the requirements of common property in terms of seeking unanimous consent. However, Locke admits that acquisition of property by mixing with the property has some limitations. For instance, a person’s capacity to acquire property is limited by the amount of it he/she can mix with, the amount of mixing that is appropriate without spoiling the property and the fact that one should leave enough for other. According to Locke,

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