The 207 new ideas included in the latest update (of 31 January), by Theme

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2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Reason leads to prudent selfishness, but overruling natural compassion [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Reason is what engenders egocentrism ...turns man in upon himself ...and separates him from all that troubles him and afflicts him. Philosophy is what ...moves him to say at the sight of a suffering man 'Perish if you will; I am safe and sound'.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: He goes on to observe that fights in the marketplace are stopped by women, while the philosophers have all run away! This thinking leads to the sentimental movement, and then to romanticism.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Without reason and human help, human life is misery [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Without mutual help and the cultivation of reason, human beings necessarily live in great misery.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.05)
     A reaction: A clarion call from a great voice of the Enlightenment. I agree, but in 2017 the rest of western civilization seems to have given up on this ideal. I blame Adorno and Horkheimer.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 9. Limits of Reason
A very hungry man cannot choose between equidistant piles of food [Aristotle]
     Full Idea: The man who, though exceedingly hungry and thirsty, and both equally, yet being equidistant from food and drink, is therefore bound to say where he is.
     From: Aristotle (On the Heavens [c.336 BCE], 296b33)
     A reaction: This is, of course, Buridan's famous Ass, but this quotation has the advantage of precedence, and also of being expressed in an original quotation (which does not exist for Buridan).
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
Both nature and reason require that everything has a cause [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Under the law of reason nothing takes place without a cause, any more than under the law of nature.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.04)
     A reaction: Is this the influence of Leibniz? Note that the principle is identified in two different areas, so in nature we may say 'everything has a cause', and in rationality we may say 'there is a reason for everything'. But are these the same?
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
No one would bother to reason, and try to know things, without a desire for enjoyment [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: We seek to know only because we desire to find enjoyment; and it is impossible to conceive why someon who had neither desires nor fears would go to the bother reasoning.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: This appears to be an echo of Hume's pessimism about the autonomy of reason. This downgrading of reason is a striking feature of the Enlightenment, which presumably culminates in the romantic movement.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 3. Belief / a. Beliefs
A notebook counts as memory, if is available to consciousness and guides our actions [Clark/Chalmers]
     Full Idea: Beliefs are partly constituted by features of the environment. ....a notebook plays for one person the same role that memory plays for another. ...The information is reliably there, available to consciousness, and to guide action, just as belief is.
     From: A Clark / D Chalmers (The Extended Mind [1998], §4)
     A reaction: This is the modern externalist approach to beliefs (along with broad content and external cognition systems). Not quite what we used to mean by beliefs, but we'll get used to it. I believe Plato wrote what it said in his books. Is memory just a role?
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 4. Prediction
A system can infer the structure of the world by making predictions about it [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: If we can train a system for prediction, it can essentially infer the structure of the world it's looking at by doing this prediction.
     From: New Scientist writers (New Scientist articles [2013], 2015.12.12)
     A reaction: [AI expert] This seems to be powerful support for the centrality of mathematical laws of nature in achieving understanding of the world. We may downplay the 'mere' ability to predict, but this idea says that the rewards of prediction are very great.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 6. Anti-Individualism
If something in the world could equally have been a mental process, it is part of our cognition [Clark/Chalmers]
     Full Idea: If, as we confront some task, a part of the world functions as a process which, were it done in the head, we would have no hesitation in recognising as part of the cognitive process, then that part of the world is part of the cognitive process.
     From: A Clark / D Chalmers (The Extended Mind [1998], §2)
     A reaction: In some sense they are obviously right that our cognitive activities spill out into books, calculators, record-keeping. It seems more like an invitation to shift the meaning of the word 'mind', than a proof that we have got it wrong.
Consciousness may not extend beyond the head, but cognition need not be conscious [Clark/Chalmers]
     Full Idea: Many identify the cognitive with the conscious, and it seems far from plausible that consciousness extends outside the head in these cases. But not every cognitive process, at least on standard usage, is a conscious process.
     From: A Clark / D Chalmers (The Extended Mind [1998], §3)
     A reaction: This gives you two sorts of externalism about mind to consider. No, three, if you say there is extended conceptual content, then extended cognition processes, then extended consciousness. Depends what you mean by 'consciousness'.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 5. Generalisation by mind
Only words can introduce general ideas into the mind [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: General ideas can introduced into the mind only with the aid of words.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Hm. How did humanity manage to invent general words. Do animals not have general thoughts, e.g. about food, shelter, predators? Roussea goes on to deny that monkeys see nuts as a 'type' of fruit.
General ideas are purely intellectual; imagining them is immediately particular [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Every general idea is purely intellectual. The least involvement of the imagination thereupon makes the idea particular.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: This thought is in Berkeley, who seemed to think that general ideas were impossible, because imagination was always required. Rousseau is certainly an improvement on that.
16. Persons / B. Concept of the Self / 3. External Properties
If a person relies on their notes, those notes are parted of the extended system which is the person [Clark/Chalmers]
     Full Idea: If Otto relies on his notebook, what this comes to is that Otto himself is best regarded as an extended system, a coupling of biological organism and external resources.
     From: A Clark / D Chalmers (The Extended Mind [1998], §5)
     A reaction: You start to get giddy as you read this stuff. If two people constantly share a notebook, they begin to blend into one another. It inclines me towards a more 'animalist' view of the nature of a person or a self.
16. Persons / G. Free Will / 1. Free Will / a. Nature of free will
People are only free if they are guided entirely by reason [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: The only genuinely free person is one who lives with his entire mind guided solely by reason.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.10)
     A reaction: It strikes me as blatantly impossible to be entirely guided by reason. His point is that it is a subservience to reason which is entirely chosen. Why is that different from choosing to be entirely subservient to another person?
19. Language / A. Language / 1. Language
Language may aid thinking, but powerful thought was needed to produce language [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: If men needed speech in order to learn to think, they had a still greater need for knowing how to think in order to discover the art of speaking.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: I take language to be a consequence of the emergence of meta-thought in humanity, so I thoroughly endorse Rousseau's view. The idea that rationality, and even consciousness, are mainly facilitated by language strikes me as quite wrong.
21. Aesthetics / B. Aesthetic Experience / 1. Beauty
Without love, what use is beauty? [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Where there is no love, what use is beauty?
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Rousseau seems to be thinking of sexual attractiveness, but the aphorism seems to have universal application.
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 1. Value / a. Nature of value
Values are an attempt to achieve well-being by bringing contingencies under control [Kekes]
     Full Idea: Our system of values should be understood, among other things, as our attempt to cope with contingencies by making the connection between our well-being and actions less contingent and more within our control.
     From: John Kekes (The Human Condition [2010], Intro)
     A reaction: He gives an account in which every aspect of morality focuses on human well-being. Of course, the values will dictate what constitutes that well-being, as well as good means of attaining it.
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 8. Love
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself [Anon (Leviticus)]
     Full Idea: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
     From: Anon (Lev) (03: Book of Leviticus [c.700 BCE], 19.18)
     A reaction: Most Christians think Jesus originated this thought. Interestingly, this precedes Socrates, who taught a similar idea.
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 7. Moral Motives
If we should not mistreat humans, it is mainly because of sentience, not rationality [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: If I am obliged not to do any harm to my fellow man, it is less because he is a rational being than because he is a sentient being.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Pref)
     A reaction: How should sentience and rationality be weighted here? Kant demands instrinsic respect for beings on the grounds of their rationality. What could ever justify doing needless harm to anything? An open goal for virtue theory here.
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 6. Ethics from Reason
Rational morality is OK for brainy people, but ordinary life can't rely on that [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Although it might be appropriate for Socrates and minds of his stature to acquire virtue through reason, the human race would long ago have ceased to exist, if its preservation had depended solely on the reasonings of its members.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: He takes our natural compassion to be the basis of morality. Hume combines that with a natural social prudence. Apes live successfully together in groups, without a Socrates. See MacIntyre on the failure of reasoned morality.
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
The better Golden Rule is 'do good for yourself without harming others' [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Instead of the sublime maxim of reasoned justice 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you', pity inspires a less perfect but perhaps more useful one: 'Do what is good for you with as little harm as possible to others'.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: His revised maxim is like J.S. Mill's formula for liberalism. The first maxim seems more contractarian, the second more utilitarian.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
The fact that we weep (e.g. in theatres) shows that we are naturally compassionate [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Every day one sees in our theatres someone affected and weeping at the ills of some unfortunate person ...Nature, in giving men tears, bears witness that she gave the human race the softest hearts.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Lovely. Of course, tears in infants are for their own misfortunes, but adults more commonly weep over the sufferings of others. But we somewhat laugh at people who easily cry over dramas about suffering.
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Both men and animals are sentient, which should give the latter the right not to be mistreated [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Since being sentient is common to both animals and men, that should at least give the former the right not to be needlessly mistreated by the latter.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Pref)
     A reaction: This is why utilitarianism led to the founding of the RSPCA in Britain. There is a disturbing picture of people smashing up animals for fun, if they can only persuade themselves that the animals are not sentient. I've heard fishermen claim that.
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 4. Suicide
The maxim for suicide is committed to the value of life, and is thus contradictory [Kant]
     Full Idea: If my maxim is to shorten my life if its continuance threatens more evil than pleasure is seen that a system of nature by whose law the feeling intended to further life should actually destroy life would contradict itself, and could not subsist.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Lectures on Ethics [1780], 422:53)
     A reaction: [compressed] I take it this means that a potential suicide is assessing what is best for life, and is therefore implicitly committed to life. Not persuasive! Should we not terminate the life of a mass murderer in mid-crime?
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Humans are less distinguished from other animals by understanding, than by being free agents [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: It is not so much understanding which causes the specific distinction of man from all other animals as it is his being a free agent.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: I'm not sure how deep Rousseau takes 'free' to go. Having little enthusiasm for free will, I would say that we are distinguished by the complexity of our decision making. But I attribute that to meta-thought, the mark of humanity.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
People need society because the individual has too many needs [Plato]
     Full Idea: Society originates because the individual is not self-sufficient, but has many needs which he cannot supply himself.
     From: Plato (The Republic [c.374 BCE], 369b)
     A reaction: Notice that Plato has the liberal individualist approach to problem, of starting with isolated individuals, and asking why they need to gang together. This is despite the dependency of children, and the proximity of extended families.
We are not created for solitude, but are driven into society by our needs [Locke]
     Full Idea: God, having made man such a creature that, in His own judgement, it was not good for him to be alone, put him under strong obligations of necessity, convenience, and inclination, to drive him into society.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 077)
     A reaction: This is almost Aristotelian, apart from the individualistic assumption that we are 'driven' into society. The only time I see other people looking generally happy is when they are sitting around at leisure and talking to other people.
All countries are in a mutual state of nature [Locke]
     Full Idea: All commonwealths are in a state of Nature one with another.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 153)
     A reaction: A striking remark. It is easy to think that the state of nature no longer exists. International law attempts to rectify this, but diplomacy is much more like negotiations in nature than it is like obedience to laws.
Natural mankind is too fragmented for states of peace, or of war and enmity [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Men are not naturally enemies, for the simple reason that men living in their original state of independence do not have sufficiently constant relationships among themselves to bring about either a state of peace or a state of war.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.4)
     A reaction: He sees people in a state of nature as more or less solitary, and certainly in groups any more organised than a small family. One might then be in a state of permanent feud, rather than war, but without settlements people can move away.
Most human ills are self-inflicted; the simple, solitary, regular natural life is good [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Most of our ills are of our own making, and we could have avoided nearly all of them by preserving the simple, regular and solitary lifestyle prescribed to us by nature.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: It is important that he is not really disagreeing with Hobbes's pessimistic view of natural life as 'nasty'. Rousseau attributes that to a later stage, when people are ineptly beginning to emerge from the state of nature. I'm an optimist here.
Is language a pre-requisite for society, or might it emerge afterwards? [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Which was more necessary: an already formed society for the invention of languages, or an already invented language for the establishment of society?
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Rousseau declines to attempt an answer. Ants and bees seem to do well, but have some means of communication. Ape colonies are quite sophisticated.
Primitive man was very gentle [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: This summarises Rousseau's view of the earliest stage of mankind, when there was little rivalry, and little motivation or opportunity for viciousness.
I doubt whether a savage person ever complains of life, or considers suicide [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: I ask if anyone has ever heard tell of a savage who was living in liberty ever dreaming of complaining about his life and of killing himself.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Rousseau's state of nature is much too remote from any current tribal life for this to be tested. It is a nice speculation. Do apes ever attempt suicide?
Hobbes attributed to savages the passions which arise in a law-bound society [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Hobbes had wrongly injected into the savage man's concern for self-preservation the need to satisfy a multitude of passions which are the product of society and which have made laws necessary.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Hobbes's famous remark concerns a state of war, which is quite a sophisticated state of conflict between well formed social groups. Rousseau's savage is fairly solitary, so won't be involved in war.
Savages avoid evil because they are calm, and never think of it (not because they know goodness) [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: We could say that savages are not evil because they do not know what is good; for it is neither enlightenment nor legal restraint, but the calm of the passions and the ignorance of vice which prevents them from doing evil.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Suggests one of my favourite ideas (Idea 519). While his hopes for savages and the state of nature may be optimistic, the idea that you won't do evil if it never crosses your mind (and it won't if you are a calm person) is very powerful.
Savage men quietly pursue desires, without the havoc of modern frenzied imagination [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Imagination, which wreaks so much havoc among us, does not speak to savage hearts; each man peacefully awaits the impetus of nature, gives himself over to it without choice, and with more pleasure than frenzy; then all desire is snuffed out.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Interesting to identify imagination as a source of trouble. The idea that the savage lacks imagination seems implausible. Better to say that modern imagination has been poisoned by competition.
Leisure led to envy, inequality, vice and revenge, which we now see in savages [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: People developed leisure pursuits, and wanted esteem, which was the first step towards inequality, and at the same time towards vice. Vanity, contempt, shame and envy were born, and acts of revenge. This is the stage of savage people we know of.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: [very compressed] This is important in understanding Rousseau, because his happier 'state of nature' is prior to what is described here, which is the violent warlike state which impressed Hobbes.
Our two starting principles are concern for self-interest, and compassion for others [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: One principle prior to reason makes us ardently interested in our well-being and self-preservation; the other inspires a natural repugnance to seeing any sentient being, especially our fellow man, perish or suffer.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Pref)
     A reaction: This is strikingly like Hume's nascent utilitarianism. These two principles are the key to Rousseau's vision of the state of nature, from which the union around a general will leads to the formation of a state. Note that animals get included here.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / c. A unified people
Peoples are created by individuals, not by nature, and only distinguished by language and law [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Nature certainly does not create peoples, individuals do, and individuals are only separated into nations by differences of language, law and morality.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.26)
     A reaction: Quite wrong, I think. How did languages evolve if there were not already distinct peoples? Do ants and bees only form into colonies by individual choice? All social contract theories seem to make Spinoza's assumption.
To overcome obstacles, people must unite their forces into a single unified power [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Men have no other means of maintaining themselves but to form by aggregation a sum of forces that could gain the upper hand over the resistance of obstacles, so that their forces are directed by means of a single moving power and made to act in concert.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.6)
     A reaction: I prefer the Aristotelian view, that men are naturally gregarious and social (like bees and ants), so this act of solidarity in superfluous. A human people is only broken up by violence or disaster, like kicking over an ants' nest.
Human nature changes among a people, into a moral and partial existence [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The establisher of a people is in a position to change human nature, to transform each individual into a part of a larger whole from which the individual receives his life and being, to substitute a partial and moral existence for natural independence.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.07)
     A reaction: The 'partial' part is obvious, in the compromises of society, but he says we only become moral in a people, and even more so when that people constitute a state. In the state of nature, morality seems to be unneeded, rather than absent.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Freedom
In nature men can dispose of possessions and their persons in any way that is possible [Locke]
     Full Idea: The estate all men are naturally in is perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the laws of nature.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 004)
     A reaction: Note that they have possessions, so property is not an invention of society, but something which society should protect. Presumably Locke thinks they could sell themselves into slavery, which Rousseau rejects.
A savage can steal fruit or a home, but there is no means of achieving obedience [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: A savage man could well lay hold of the fruit another has gathered, the cave that served as his shelter. But how will he ever succeed in making himself obeyed? What can be the chain of dependence among men who possess nothing?
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: You'd certainly need language to express an enduring threat, like excluding someone from all of the local caves. You need to be able to say 'I'll be back', which animals can't say. Huge muscular men must have dominated in some way.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 3. Natural Equality
There is no subjection in nature, and all creatures of the same species are equal [Locke]
     Full Idea: Creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of Nature, are also equal one among another, without subordination or subjection.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 004)
     A reaction: The birds in my garden don't behave as if that were true. Physical strength is surely a natural inequality.
In a state of nature people are much more equal; it is society which increases inequalities [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: There must be much less difference between one man and another in the state of nature than in that of society, and natural inequality must increase in the human species through inequality occasioned by social institutions.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: This is the main idea of his essay - the answer to the question set by the essay prize. Slavery is common in fairly basic societies, but that is at a much more advanced stage than Rousseau is thinking of. It's hard to disagree with him.
It against nature for children to rule old men, fools to rule the wise, and the rich to hog resources [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: It is obviously contrary to the law of nature, however it is defined, for a child to command an old man, for an imbecile to lead a wise man, and for a handful of people to gorge themselves on superfluities while the starving multitude lack necessities.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: I wonder if gregarious animals ever starve to death during a time of plenty, because of social exclusion? I bet this idea was quoted widely in 1780s Paris. The massive inequality is not just nasty, but 'contrary to the law of nature'.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / a. Natural rights
In nature everything has an absolute right to do anything it is capable of doing [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Since the universal power of nature is only the power of all individual things together, it follows that each individual thing has the sovereign right to do everything it can do, or the right of each thing extends as far as its determined power extends.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.01)
     A reaction: A typically ruthless Spinoza idea, very different from the rather ill-founded claims of Locke and Rousseau about the state of nature.
Natural rights are determined by desire and power, not by reason [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Each person's natural right is determined not by sound reason but by desire and power. For it is not the case that all men are naturally determined to behave according to the rules and laws of reason
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.03)
     A reaction: Locke would have been horrified by this. It looks like hopeless unfounded optimism to claim a natural right to anything. Doomed prey can struggle all it likes, but its right to do so seems irrelevant. Yet we see self-evident injustice all the time.
The animals and fruits of the earth belong to mankind [Locke]
     Full Idea: All the fruits the earth naturally produces, and beasts it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous hand of Nature.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 026)
     A reaction: Not a popular view among 21st century ecologists, I guess, but this remains the implicit belief of anyone who goes hunting in the woods, and our enclosed gardens seem to endorse the idea.
The rational law of nature says we are all equal and independent, and should show mutual respect [Locke]
     Full Idea: The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges everyone, and reason, which is that law, teaches mankind that all being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 006)
     A reaction: He adds that this is because we are all the property of God. Locke is more optimistic than Hobbes or Rousseau about this, since he thinks we have a natural obligation to be nice.
There is a natural right to inheritance within a family [Locke]
     Full Idea: Every man is born with a right before any other man, to inherit, with his brethren, his father's goods.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 190)
     A reaction: If a child is fully grown, they may well have drifted into a state of partial ownership of the goods of the parent, of which it would be hard then to deprive them. It is hard to see this as a natural right of tiny orphaned infants.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / b. Alienating rights
Forming a society meant following reason, and giving up dangerous appetites and mutual harm [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: People had to make a firm decision to decide everything by the sole dictates of reason (which no one dares contradict openly). They had to curb their appetites if it would hurt someone else, and not do to others what they did not want done to themselves.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.05)
     A reaction: The last bit invokes the Golden Rule. Being in society does indeed meaning curbing appetites, such as envy and lust.
No one, in giving up their power and right, ceases to be a human being [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: No one will ever be able to transfer his power and (consequently) his right to another person in such a way that he ceases to be a human being.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.01)
     A reaction: Spinoza disdains natural rights, but this is a modest (and pretty uncontroversial) concession.
People only give up their rights, and keep promises, if they hope for some greater good [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: No one will give up his right to all things, and absolutely no one will keep his promises, except from fear of a greater ill or hope of a greater good.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.06)
     A reaction: I think Locke and Rousseau would agree with this. It is hard to imagine doing anything other than in hope of a greater good. But what to do when your hopes are disappointed?
Once you have given up your rights, there is no going back [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: If people had wanted to keep any right for themselves, they should have made this provision at the same time as they could have safely defended it.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.08)
     A reaction: Spinoza is wonderful for grasping nettles. The other fans of social contracts seem blithely cheerful about how it is going to work out. But forming a society is like marriage - a risky commitment which could go horribly wrong.
In democracy we don't abandon our rights, but transfer them to the majority of us [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: In a democracy no one transfers their natural right to another in such a way that they are not thereafter consulted, but rather to the majority of the whole society of which they are part.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.11)
     A reaction: At this time democracy means Athenian direct democracy. In representative democracy you are only consulted once every few years, and in between the government can ignore the people (as Rousseau pointed out).
Everyone who gives us their rights must fear the recipients of them [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: People have never given up their right and transferred their power to another in such a way that they did not fear the very persons who received their right and power, and put the government at greater risk from its own citizens than from its enemies.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.01)
     A reaction: I take this idea to be Rousseau's key motivation for the idea of the general will, because you are there supposed to be alienating your natural rights to yourself (sort of). In a democracy you alienate them partly to yourself.
The early Hebrews, following Moses, gave up their rights to God alone [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: The Hebrews being in this natural state, they resolved, on the advice of Moses in whom they all had the greatest trust, to transfer their right to no mortal man but rather to God alone.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.07)
     A reaction: [He cites Exodus 24:7] He calls this the first Hebrew state, which seems to have depended heavily on Moses. Priests and prophets become crucial in this situation, and they may be in conflict about God's commands.
There is only a civil society if the members give up all of their natural executive rights [Locke]
     Full Idea: Wherever any number of men so unite into one society as to quite every one his executive power of the law of Nature, and to resign it to the public, there and there only is a civil society.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 089)
     A reaction: This seems to mean that you must give up your active ('executive') natural rights, but not your passive ones (which are inviolable).
If we all give up all of our rights together to the community, we will always support one another [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The social compact reduces to a single clause, namely the total alienation of each associate, together with all of his rights, to the entire community. Since this condition is equal for everyone, no one has an interest in making it burdensome for others.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.6)
     A reaction: He speaks elsewhere of basic natural rights which can never be alienated, such as self-defence. It is what small groups do all the time, if they start off as equals. Difficult to manage with large groups. Factions are the problem.
We alienate to society only what society needs - but society judges that, not us [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Each person alienates, by the social compact, only that portion of his power, his goods, and liberty whose use is of consequence to the community; but we must also grant that only the sovereign is the judge of what is of consequence.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.04)
     A reaction: The weakness here is how society sees its needs. He seems to assume that two societies will arrive at almost identical general wills, but Spartans, Prussians and Serbs may require the lives of your children for the state.
25. Society / B. The State / 1. Purpose of a State
All exchanges in a community are for mutual benefit [Plato]
     Full Idea: In the community all mutual exchanges are made on the assumption that the parties to them stand to gain.
     From: Plato (The Republic [c.374 BCE], 369c)
     A reaction: The sole purpose of his society appears to be trading, either of goods or of services. The assumption is that if each individual were self-sufficient there would be no society, which strikes me as unlikely. Aristotle offers a better picture.
The state aims to allow personal development, so its main purpose is freedom [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: It is the purpose of the state allow people's minds and bodies to develop in their own way in security and enjoy the free use of reason ...Therefore the true purpose of the state is in fact freedom.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 20.06)
     A reaction: The core of Spinoza's political thinking. This strikes me as being as close to communitarianism as to liberalism.
Politics is the right to make enforceable laws to protect property and the state, for the common good [Locke]
     Full Idea: Political power is the right of making laws, with penalties up to death, for the preserving of property, employing the force of community in the execution of such laws, in defence of the commonwealth, and only for the common good.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 003)
     A reaction: Since political power can be used for selfish corruption and genocide, this isn't very accurate, so I take it this is how power ought to be exercised! Notice that defence gets equal billing with his famous defence of property.
A state's purpose is liberty and equality - liberty for strength, and equality for liberty [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The greatest good and purpose of every legislative system boils down to liberty and equality. Liberty because dependence takes force from the body of the state, and equality because liberty cannot subsist without it.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.11)
     A reaction: The idea of 'taking force' seems to cover the modern welfare state. Rousseau likes robustly self-sufficient citizens. To ensure equality, however, it may be necessary to restrict liberty.
The measure of a successful state is increase in its population [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The government under which, without external means, without naturalisations, without colonies, the citizens become populous and multiply the most, is infallibly the best government.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.09)
     A reaction: I'm not sure if this was true in the eighteenth century. Birth control has entirely changed the picture, since affluent people seem less inclined to breed. Presumably poverty increased famine and infant mortality.
The purpose of society is to protect the rights of liberty, property, security and resistance [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: The aim of all political associations is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 02)
     A reaction: Radical thinkers will obviously be doubtful about property being on the list, because that entrenches huge inequalities, between peasants and their landlords. Resistance to oppression will bother the likes of Edmund Burke.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / a. Sovereignty
Sovereignty must include the power to make people submit to it [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Either there is no sovereignty nor any right over subjects, or else sovereignty must necessarily extend to everything that might be effective in inducing men to submit to it.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.02)
     A reaction: In the seventeenth century this usually includes the death penalty. Refusal to submit may be fairly passive and harmless, so the issue must concern duties, rather than rights. Taxes, jury duty, calls to arms.
Sovereignty is the exercise of the general will, which can never be delegated [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Since sovereignty is merely the exercise of the general will, it can never be alienated, and the sovereign which is only a collective being, cannot be represented by anything but itself. Power can perfectly well be transmitted, but not the will.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.01)
     A reaction: Part of the post-Hobbesian revolution, which sees sovereignty as residing in the will or consensus of the people, rather than in a divine right, or a right of power. In 2016 this isn't going very well. A people choosing to obey is thereby dissolved.
Just as people control their limbs, the general-will state has total control of its members [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Just as nature gives each man an absolute power over all of his members, the social compact gives the body politic an absolute over all its members, which is the power directed by the general will, and bearing the name sovereignty.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.04)
     A reaction: A highly organic view of the state, and his favourite political metaphor. Does the metaphor include disease and madness? In the 1930s Germany went insane. The man may be happy, but are his limbs happy? If I burn my hand? Etc.
People accept the right to be commanded, because they themselves wish to command [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Citizens allow themselves to be oppressed only insofar as they are driven by blind ambition; ...they consent to wear chains in order to be able to give them in turn to others. It is difficult to reduce to obedience someone who does not wish to command.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: Beautiful. This produces what I call the 'military model of management', where people love tree diagrams showing chains of command, and their place in the hierarchy. Life becomes 'either give orders, or obey'. I like democratic teams.
The sovereignty does not appoint the leaders [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The election of leaders is a function of government and not of the sovereignty.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.3)
     A reaction: The point is that the general will only establishes the form of government, and not its content. In Britain we accept leaders who are appointed by their own party, and not by the electorate.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / c. Natural authority
Force can only dominate if it is seen as a right, and obedience as a duty [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The strongest is never strong enough to be master all the time, unless he transforms force into right and obedience into duty.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.3)
     A reaction: Presumably the people only accept force as a right and obedience as a duty if they appear to be in the people's interests - because the alternative looks worse. In other words, they are terrified.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
A society only begins if there is consent of all the individuals to join it [Locke]
     Full Idea: The beginning of politic society depends upon the consent of the individuals to join into and make one society.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 106)
     A reaction: This is the dramatic new political idea (originating with Hobbes), that all of the members must (at some point) consent to the state. In practice we are all born into a state, so it is not clear what this means in real life.
A politic society is created from a state of nature by a unanimous agreement [Locke]
     Full Idea: That which makes the community, and brings men out of the loose state of Nature into one politic society, is the agreement that everyone has with the rest to incorporate and act as one body.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 211)
     A reaction: Geography usually keeps commonwealths in place once they have been established, but some of them become disfunctional hell holes because they are trapped in perpetual disagreement.
The government is instituted by a law, not by a contract [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The act that institutes the government is not a contract but a law.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.18)
     A reaction: This is a law which implements the general will. There is nothing for citizens to make a contract with, since the sovereign is an abstraction, whereas a social contract is made between actual people. I like Rousseau's big idea.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will
A single will creates the legislature, which is duty-bound to preserve that will [Locke]
     Full Idea: The essence and union of the society consisting in having one will, the legislative, when once established by the majority, has the declaring and, as it were, keeping of that will.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 212)
     A reaction: Not far from Rousseau's big idea, apart from the emphasis on the 'majority'. Rousseau reduced the role of the general will to preliminaries and basics, but wanted close to unanimity, so that everyone accepts being a subject, to government and law.
We need a protective association which unites forces, but retains individual freedom [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The problem is to find a form of association which protects with all common forces the person and goods of each associate, by means of which each one, while uniting with all, nevertheless obeys only himself and remains as free as before.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.6)
     A reaction: This is the clear purpose of Rousseau's famous concept of the General Will. The idea is that you submit to the general will because you helped formulate it, so you remain free. It is a lovely idea, but notoriously difficult to implement.
The act of association commits citizens to the state, and the state to its citizens [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The act of association is a reciprocal commitment of public and private individuals, and each individual, contracting with himself, is under a twofold commitment, as a member of the sovereign to individuals, and as a member of the state to the sovereign.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.7)
     A reaction: This seems to be expressed in modern terms as a mutual entailment of rights and duties. Where the traditional social contract is just between individuals, this seems to be a contract with a unified abstraction, of state commitment to citizens.
Individual citizens still retain a private will, which may be contrary to the general will [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Each individual can, as a man, have a private will contrary to or different from the general will that he has as a citizen. His private interest can speak to him in an entirely different manner than the common interest.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.7)
     A reaction: So why I accept the general will when these two clash (apart from threat of punishment - which may be capital if I am recalcitrant!)? Usually the general will is also for my good - but not always. Idealist love of the people?
The more unanimous the assembly, the stronger the general will becomes [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The more harmony reigns in the assemblies, that is to say, the closer opinions come to unanimity, the more dominant too is the general will.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.2)
     A reaction: This seems important, because the general will comes in degrees. A decision from the assembly would come with an index number indicating its strength. His dream is obviously to get close to unanimity on all decisions. Maybe! Brexit 52%!
The general will changes its nature when it focuses on particulars [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Just as a private will cannot represent the general will, the general will, for its part, alters its nature when it has a particular object.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.04)
     A reaction: Is the general will, then, in danger of being much too general, because as soon as it gets close to anything practical it becomes distorted. It can design the constitution, but can it give a view on capital punishment, or is that too personal?
Assemblies must always confirm the form of government, and the current administration [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The opening of assemblies, which solely aim to preserve the social treaty, should always start with two separate propositions: 1) does it please the sovereign to preserve the present form of government?, 2) ...and to preserve the present administration?
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.18)
     A reaction: I would love it if the British people were allowed to discuss our form of government, but it now seems completely ossified. Being a monarchy, with the consequent patronage, almost guarantees this stasis.
Citizens must ultimately for forced to accept the general will (so freedom is compulsory!) [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: To avoid the general compact being an empty formula, it tacitly entails the commitment that whoever refuses to obey the general will will be forced to do so by the entire body. This means merely that he will be forced to be free.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.7)
     A reaction: Rousseau obviously enjoyed this paradox (which sounds like US foreign policy). Apart from anarchism, any political system will need a bit of force to back it up. Should democratic voting becoming compulsory, if the turnout declines too far?
The general will is always right, but the will of all can err, because it includes private interests [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The general will is always right. ....There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will. The latter considers only the general interest, but the former considers private interest and is merely the sum of private wills.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.03)
     A reaction: Hence in order to get an expression of the general will, voters must exclusively focus on the general good. I do that in general elections, only to find that the people around me vote for their own interests. I wish we all did the same thing.
If the state contains associations there are fewer opinions, undermining the general will [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: If there are partial association in the state ...there are no longer as many voters as there are men, but merely as many as there are associations. The differences become less numerous and yield a result that is less general.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.03)
     A reaction: This appears to entirely reject political parties, and similar groups, which he had seen forming in England. It goes with his interesting faith that the more separate views there are, the more the right choice will emerge.
If a large knowledgeable population votes in isolation, their many choices will have good results [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: If, when a sufficiently informed populace deliberates, the citizens were to have no communication among themselves, the general will would always result from a large number of small differences, and the deliberations would always be good.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.03)
     A reaction: An obvious weak point in the electorate being well informed, if someone controls the sources of information. All the optimism of the Enlightenment is in this idea - that rational beings converge of the truth. All pubs closed in the month of an election?
The law expresses the general will, and all citizens can participate [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: The law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part in person or through their representatives in its formulation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or whether it punishes.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 06)
     A reaction: Now you are wondering who qualifies as a 'citizen'. Rousseau would have been excited until he found that the citizens could send 'representatives', instead of voting themselves. Rousseau aimed at foundational laws, not all of the laws.
25. Society / B. The State / 3. Constitutions
There is only a constitution if rights are assured, and separation of powers defined [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: Any society in which the guarantee of Rights is not assured, nor the separation of Power determined, has no Constitution.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 16)
     A reaction: I wonder if they had Britain in mind with this one? The British latched onto Magna Carta in the early 19th century, because it offered some semblance of a constitution.
25. Society / B. The State / 4. Citizenship
You can only become an actual member of a commonwealth by an express promise [Locke]
     Full Idea: Nothing can make any man a subject or member of a commonwealth but his actually entering into it by positive engagement, and express promise and compact.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 122)
     A reaction: In practice the indigenous population never do this. But it a clear distinction for foreign residents in any country. States cannot induct resident foreigners into their army, or allow them to vote.
Children are not born into citizenship of a state [Locke]
     Full Idea: It is plain, by the practices of governments themselves, as well as by the laws of right reason, that a child is born a subject of no country nor government.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 118)
     A reaction: At what age do they become citizens, given that there is no induction ceremony? If a small British child were attacked overseas, we would expect the British government to defend its rights.
Anyone who enjoys the benefits of a state has given tacit consent to be part of it [Locke]
     Full Idea: Every man that hath any possession or enjoyment of any part of the dominions of any government doth thereby give his tacit consent, and is as far forth obliged to obedience to the laws of that government, during such enjoyment.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 119)
     A reaction: I wondered at the age of about 18 whether I had given tacit consent to be a British citizen. Locke says you only have to travel freely down the highways to give consent! We are all free, of course, to apply for citizenship elsewhere. But Idea 19894.
We all owe labour in return for our keep, and every idle citizen is a thief [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: In a society where a man has to live at others' expense, he owes in labour the price of his keep; and that is without exception. Work, then, is an indispensable social obligation. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, every idle citizen is a thief.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Emile: treatise on education [1762], Bk III)
     A reaction: Presumably rich landowners who live on rents can justify their position by good husbandry, at a higher level than tilling the soil. But Bertie Wooster won't last long in Rousseau's new world. This is a big challenge to the welfare state.
Political laws are fundamental, as they firmly organise the state - but they could still be changed [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The laws regulating the relationship of the sovereign to the state are political laws, which are also fundamental. There is one way of organising a state, and people should stand by it. ...But a people is always in a position to change its laws.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.12)
     A reaction: Constitutions take on a sacred and inviolable quality, but Rousseau clearly thinks 'the Sabbath is made for man'. I think the USA is crazy not to change its constitution on the subject of bearing arms.
Citizens should be independent of each other, and very dependent on the state [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Each citizen should be perfectly independent of all the others and excessively dependent on the city.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.12)
     A reaction: Unlike many other of his pronouncements, this sounds a bit like a welfare state, though I doubt if he means that. Rousseau's state, founded by the general will, seems to have a quasi-religious quality, like a devotee's love of God.
A citizen is a subject who is also sovereign [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The words 'subject' and 'sovereign' are identical correlatives, whose meaning is combined in the single word 'citizen'.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.13)
     A reaction: 'Citizen' was the favourite post-revolutionary label, probably based on this remark. I've heard foreigners tease Britons for being 'subjects' of the monarch, where they are pure citizens. But we are all subject to the law, made by others.
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / b. Monarchy
Kings tend to fight wars for glory, rather than for peace and liberty [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: As soon as the kings took control [of the Hebrews] the reason for going to war was no longer peace and liberty but rather glory,
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 18.05)
     A reaction: As Spinoza was writing, Louis XIV had just invaded Holland, solely in quest of military glory. As soon as a leader like Napoleon discovers they are good at war, I assume that the thrill of glory takes over for them too.
Deposing a monarch is dangerous, because the people are used to royal authority [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: It is dangerous to depose a monarch, even if it is clear by every criterion that he is a tyrant. A people accustomed to royal authority and held in check only by it, will despise any lesser authority and hold it in contempt.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 18.07)
     A reaction: He is obviously thinking of Charles I and Cromwell. I suspect that the respect for Cromwell in the 1650s was only as a great soldier. If the people miss royal authority, the correct response is probably 'get over it!'
Monarchs are always proud, and can't back down [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Monarchical minds are always proud, and cannot back down without feelings of humiliation.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 18.05)
     A reaction: This would seem to be a problem in all politicians. As I teacher I found that backing down was sometimes quite a smart move, but you can only do it occasionally.
Absolute monarchy is inconsistent with civil society [Locke]
     Full Idea: Absolute monarchy, which by some men is counted for the only government in the world, is inconsistent with civil society, and so can be no form of civil government at all.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 090)
     A reaction: This is because citizens do not have a 'decisive' power to appeal for redress of injuries. Rousseau thought that there could be an absolute monarchy, as long as the general will agreed it, and its term of office could be brought to an end by the assembly.
Ancient monarchs were kings of peoples; modern monarchs more cleverly rule a land [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Ancient monarchs called themselves King of the Persians or Scythians, regarding themselve merely as the leaders of men. Today's monarchs more shrewdly call themselves King of France or England. By holding the land, they are sure of the inhabitants.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.9)
     A reaction: This matches the Germans being earlier defined by speaking the language, and now defined by a territory. It is more to do with the rise of the modern state than to do with the shrewdness of the monarchs.
The highest officers under a monarchy are normally useless; the public could choose much better [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Those who attain the highest positions in monarchies are most often petty bunglers, swindlers and intriguers, whose talents serve only to display their incompetence to the public. The populace is much less often in error in its choice than the prince.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.06)
     A reaction: Many monarchs have had famously good advisers, such as Lord Burleigh. The worst thing about bad leaders, at any level, is the bad appointments they make.
Hereditary monarchy is easier, but can lead to dreadful monarchs [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Some crowns are hereditary. So by substituting the disadvantage of regencies for elections, an apparent tranquillity has been preferred to a wise election, the risk of having children, monsters or imbeciles for leaders is preferred to choosing good kings.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.06)
     A reaction: Henry VI is the prime English example. The regents feuded, and then when he grew up it became obvious that he was hopeless. How many English monarchs would have been elected? But we would have missed Good Queen Bess.
Attempts to train future kings don't usually work, and the best have been unprepared [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: A great deal of effort is made to teach young princes the art of ruling. It does not appear that this education does them any good. It would be better to teach them the art of obeying. The most celebrated kings were not brought up to reign.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.06)
     A reaction: King Alfred is our prime example of a success, But if only we had had Charles I's late brother Henry, instead the untrained Charles.
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / c. Despotism
The idea that absolute power improves mankind is confuted by history [Locke]
     Full Idea: He that thinks absolute power purifies men's blood, and corrects the baseness of human nature, need but read the history of this, or any other age, to be convinced to the contrary.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 092)
     A reaction: I can't imagine who proposed the view that Locke is attacking, but it will have been some real 17th century thinker. Attitudes to monarchy changed drastically in England, but Louis XIV was still ruling in France.
Despotism is arbitrary power to kill, based neither on natural equality, nor any social contract [Locke]
     Full Idea: Despotical power is an absolute, arbitrary power one man over another, to take away his life whenever he pleases; and this is a power which neither Nature gives, for it has made no such distinction between one man and another, nor compact can convey.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 172)
     A reaction: Colonies of seals, walruses and apes seem to display despotism, based on physical strength, though that is largely to do with mating. There could be such a compact, but Locke would regard it as invalid.
People stripped of their property are legitimately subject to despotism [Locke]
     Full Idea: Forfeiture gives despotical power to lords for their own benefit over those who are stripped of all property. ...Despotical power is over such as have no property at all.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 173)
     A reaction: Nasty! Shylock is stripped of his property by Venice, so these things happened. This is taking the significance of property a long way beyond its role at the beginning of Locke's book. Property is the start of society, but then becomes your passport.
Legitimate prisoners of war are subject to despotism, because that continues the state of war [Locke]
     Full Idea: Captives, taken in a just and lawful war, and such only, are subject to a despotical power, which, as it arises not from compact, so neither is it capable of any, but is the state of war continued.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 205)
     A reaction: How long after a war finishes is such despotism legitimate? What happened to the German prisoners in Russia in 1945? Locke defined despotism as the right to kill, but that is expressly contrary to the rules of war, look you.
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites
Natural aristocracy is primitive, and hereditary is dreadful, but elective aristocracy is best [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: There are three sorts of aristocracy: natural, elective, and hereditary. The first is suited only to simple people; the third is the worst of any government. The second is the best; it is aristocracy properly so-called.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.05)
     A reaction: This seems like the modern idea of 'meritocracy'. The Chinese civil service exams, introduced into Europe in the nineteenth century.
Large states need a nobility to fill the gap between a single prince and the people [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: With a large state in the hands of one man there is too great a distance between the prince and the people, and the state lacks cohesiveness. This requires intermediate orders of nobility to fill them. A small state is ruined by all these social levels.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.06)
     A reaction: [compressed] This seems to be a justification for the French ancien regime. Presumably this bit was not quoted much in 1789. Why must the gap be filled by 'nobility'? What about an elected house of lords?
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / a. Government
The state has a legislature and an executive, just like the will and physical power in a person [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Every free action has a moral cause, the will, and a physical cause, the power to act. ...The body politic has the same moving causes, namely the legislative power, and executive power. Nothing should be done without their concurrence.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.01)
     A reaction: [compressed] This terminology is now standard in political philosophy. An absolute monarch like Edward III presumably embodies both branches.
Law makers and law implementers should be separate [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: It is not good for the one who makes the laws to execute them.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.04)
     A reaction: He doesn't give his reasons here, but this piece of wisdom is widely supported. There is a problem when the executive find themselves trying to enforce bad, discredited laws. Maybe the police know best what the law should say? Or not!
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / b. Legislature
Even the legislature must be preceded by a law which gives it power to make laws [Locke]
     Full Idea: The first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealths is the establishing of the legislative power, as the first and fundamental natural law which is to govern even the legislative.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 134)
     A reaction: I think Rousseau says that there cannot be a law which enables the general will to set up legislative powers. It just seems to be something which happens. Locke is threatened with an infinite regress. What legitimises the enabling law?
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / c. Executive
The executive must not be the legislature, or they may exempt themselves from laws [Locke]
     Full Idea: It may be too great temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same persons to have the power of making laws to also have in their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 143)
     A reaction: The main principles of modern constitutions are devised to avoid corruption. If people were incorruptible (yeah, right) the world would presumably be run very differently, and rather more efficiently, like a good family.
I call the executive power the 'government', which is the 'prince' - a single person, or a group [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: I call 'government' or supreme administration the legitimate exercise of executive power; I call 'prince' or magistrate the man or body charged with that administration.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.01)
     A reaction: Whether the prince is one person or many is left up to the legislative body, which is the general will. Rousseau has no view on the matter.
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / d. Size of government
Large populations needs stronger control, which means power should be concentrated [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The government becomes slack as the magistrates are multiplied, and the more numerous the people the greater should be the increase of repressive force - the number of leaders should decrease in proportion to the increase of the number of people.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.02)
     A reaction: This bit sounds Stalinist! A vast population seems to require a dictator. When his state is Geneva-sized Rousseau seems comfortable, but his plans for bigger states are a bit disturbing.
Democracy for small states, aristocracy for intermediate, monarchy for large [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Democratic government is suited to small states, aristocratic government to states of intermediate size, and monarchical government to large ones.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.03)
     A reaction: Is he thinking of France for the large state? What would he have made of 1789? Does this progression go on to increase the power of the monarch as the state gets even larger, into dictatorship?
25. Society / B. The State / 7. Changing the State / c. Revolution
Every state is more frightened of its own citizens than of external enemies [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: People have never succeeded in devising a form of government that was not in greater danger from its own citizens than from foreign foes, and which was not more fearful of the former than of the latter.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.04)
     A reaction: The sort of lovely clear-headed and accurate observation for which we love Spinoza. Only very powerful despots can afford to ignore the threat from the people. Stalin was paranoid, but eventually murdered almost everyone who seemed a threat.
Any obstruction to the operation of the legislature can be removed forcibly by the people [Locke]
     Full Idea: Having erect a legislative with the power of making laws, when they are hindered by any force from what is so necessary to society, and wherein the safety and preservation of the people consists, the people have a right to remove it by force.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 155)
     A reaction: I doubt if he was thinking of the French Revolution, but this will clearly have application to the English events of 1642. The Speaker of the Commons was held down in his chair in the 1620s, so that some legislation could be enacted.
Rebelling against an illegitimate power is no sin [Locke]
     Full Idea: It is plain that shaking off a power which force, and not right, hath set over any one, though it have the name of rebellion, yet it is no offence against God.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 196)
     A reaction: [He cites Hezekiah at 2 Kings 18.7] At this time the English Civil War was referred to as the 'Great Rebellion' (so this is an interesting and brave remark of Locke's), though few people would think that Charles I had illegitimate power.
If legislators confiscate property, or enslave people, they are no longer owed obedience [Locke]
     Full Idea: Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 222)
     A reaction: This might fit Louis XVI in 1788. Locke was certainly not averse to consideration the situations in which revolution might be justified. He was trying to be even-handed about 1642. Locke seems to think that without property you ARE a slave.
If inhabitants are widely dispersed, organising a revolt is much more difficult [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The greater the area occupied by the same number of inhabitants, the more difficult it becomes to revolt, since concerted action cannot be taken promptly and secretly.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.09)
     A reaction: Revolutions since then have all occurred in large cities, which have become huge. The dispersal of the rest of the population (as in Russia) doesn't matter.
Revolutionaries usually confuse liberty with total freedom, and end up with heavier chains [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: If people try to shake off a yoke, they put more distance between themselves and liberty, because in mistaking for liberty an unbridled licence which is its opposite, their revolutions usually deliver them over to seducers who make their chains heavier.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Intro letter)
     A reaction: This 'Animal Farm' thought was presumably ignored in 1789 and 1917. There must be basic rules for revolutionaries, of which priorities they must never drop from sight, and which priorities are dangerous and misleading.
The state is not bound to leave civil authority to its leaders [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The state is no more bound to leave civil authority to its leaders than it is to leave military authority to its generals.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.18)
     A reaction: He assumes that a meeting of the citizens can articulate a new expression of the general will, but this idea also endorses revolution, if the prince or magistrates refuse to call this national AGM.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
All legislators invoke God in support of extraordinary laws, because their justification is not obvious [Machiavelli]
     Full Idea: There has never been a single legislator who, in proposing extraordinary laws, did not have recourse to God, for otherwise they would not be accepted, since many benefits known to a prudent man do not have evident persuasive reasons.
     From: Niccolo Machiavelli (The Discourses [1520], 1.11), quoted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau - The Social Contract (tr Cress) II.7 n8
     A reaction: It does seem to be an important role for God and state religion, to give support to decisions and laws which might not be intrinsically popular.
State and religious law can clash, so the state must make decisions about religion [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: No one would be obliged by law if he considered it against his faith, and everyone could claim licence to do anything. Since the law of the state would then be wholly violated, it follows that the right of deciding about religion belongs to the sovereign.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.21)
     A reaction: This is an era when British puritans emigrate to America, because the state is not sufficiently tolerant. The needs of sovereignty and of religion can be very far apart. You can see those with great religious devotion not liking this idea.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture
We seem to have made individual progress since savagery, but actually the species has decayed [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Evidence confirms that the savage state is the youth of the world, and all subsequent progress has been in appearance so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, and in fact toward the decay of the species.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: This strikes me as an attack on the new rising philosophy of liberalism, and a plea for communitarianism. We should judge humanity as a whole, and not just look at some individual lives which seem to be going well.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
By separating theological and political systems, Jesus caused divisions in the state [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: In separating the theological system from the political system, Jesus made the state to cease being united and caused internal divisions. Since this new idea of an otherwordly kingdom had never entered the heads of pagans, they saw Christians as rebels.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.8)
     A reaction: This is the sort of stuff that made Rousseau a vast number of enemies, which embittered him. It is the sort of cool assessment which became commonplace in Germany sixty year later.
Civil religion needs one supreme god, an afterlife, justice, and the sanctity of the social contract [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Dogmas of civil religion should be simple. The existence of a powerful, intelligent, beneficent divinity that foresees and provides; the life to come; the happiness of the just; the punishment of the wicked; the sanctity of the social contract and laws.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.8)
     A reaction: Notice that he gratuitously makes the social contract sacred (even though it can be voluntarily abandoned, and the general will can be changed). Presumably the foundation of any society, such as the ballot box, has to be sacred.
All religions should be tolerated, if they tolerate each other, and support citizenship [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Tolerance should be shown to all religions which tolerate other religions, so long as their dogmas contain nothing contrary to the duties of a citizen.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.8)
     A reaction: Quite a good guideline for the attitude of western countries to middle eastern religious practices which arrive in their midst. Rousseau says the state has a minimal core religion (Idea 19852), which thus tolerates most other religions.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture
The flourishing of arts and letters is too much admired [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Times in which letters and arts are known to have flourished have been admired too much.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.09 n9)
     A reaction: I assume most marxists would agree with this thought. Eighteenth century France is a good candidate for this judgement. The arts always needed patronage.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
Every society has a religion as its base [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: No state has ever been founded without religion serving as its base.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.8)
     A reaction: It is not clear to me that the ancient Greek cities had religion as a 'base', though they all had a religion, and expected conformity. Religion doesn't figure much in Thucydides. Communist Russia was the first explicitly atheist state, I think.
25. Society / B. The State / 9. Population / a. State population
A state must be big enough to preserve itself, but small enough to be governable [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Like a well-formed man, there are limits to the size a state can have, so as not to be too large to be capable of being well governed, nor too small to be capable of preserving itself on its own.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.09)
     A reaction: Geneva was his model, and it is close to the size of a Greek polis. Presumably even Scotland would be thought ungovernable, never mind the United States. Luxembourg might be his ideal nowadays. Thousands of them!
Too much land is a struggle, producing defensive war; too little makes dependence, and offensive war [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Too much land makes its defence is onerous, its cultivation inadequate, and its yield surplus, which causes defensive wars. If there is not enough land, the state is at the discretion of its neighbours for what it needs as surplus, causing offensive wars.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.10)
     A reaction: This sounds much too simplistic, like the causes of squabbles in a kindergarten. Certainly inequalities between nations (such as the USA and Mexico) produces frictions. Advances in agriculture technology have transformed this problem.
If the state enlarges, the creators of the general will become less individually powerful [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The ratio of the sovereign to the subject increases in proportion to the number of citizens. The larger the state becomes, the less liberty there is.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.01)
     A reaction: This is because we remain equally subjected to the state whatever its size, but have less power to influence if there are more citizens. In modern states we all feel pathetically powerless, because of the numbers.
If the population is larger, the government needs to be more powerful [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: In order to be good, the government must be relatively stronger in proportion as the populace is more numerous.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.01)
     A reaction: This could either imply a larger government, or more powerful laws for a fairly small government. Rousseau implies an almost mathematical law (of ratios) which determines the size of the government.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy
Democracy is a legitimate gathering of people who do whatever they can do [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Democracy is properly defined as a united gathering of people which collectively has the sovereign right to do all that it has the power to do.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.08)
     A reaction: Representative democracy doesn't fit this definition. What 'unites' the people, and where do they get their sovereign right? If my neighbouring village votes to invade mine, I spurn their pathetic 'sovereign right'.
Unanimous consent makes a united community, which is then ruled by the majority [Locke]
     Full Idea: When any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community into one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 096)
     A reaction: This seems to be presume democracy without discussion, although the formation of the community is by universal consent, which is the 'general will'. Rousseau has the constitution also made almost unanimously, not by a majority.
The people have supreme power, to depose a legislature which has breached their trust [Locke]
     Full Idea: There remains still in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 149)
     A reaction: This seems to be the most important aspect of representative democracy. It is not the power of people to make decisions, but the power to get rid of bad rulers.
If the sovereign entrusts government to at least half the citizens, that is 'democracy' [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The sovereign can entrust the government to the entire people or to the majority of them. This is given the name 'democracy'.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.03)
     A reaction: Note that democracy is here a form for the executive, not for the legislature. I take it that the general will must come close to unanimity, and a mere 51% support for fundamental legislation would never do. Increase the percentage with the importance?
Democracy leads to internal strife, as people struggle to maintain or change ways of ruling [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: No government is so subject to civil wars and internal agitations as a democratic or popular one, since there is none that tends so forcefully and continuously to change its form, or that demands greater vigilance and courage to keep its form.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.05)
     A reaction: We would like to think that a robust democracy, with a free press, can cope with all this strife and still survive. He may be thinking of the English Civil War. Democracies seem to be more conservative about the structure of government.
Democratic elections are dangerous intervals in government [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Elections leave dangerous intervals and are stormy.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.06)
     A reaction: American presidential elections partially paralyse government for about nine months. In a settled democracy the process of election seems OK. The immediate aftermath can be worse. Losers may refuse to accept the result.
When ministers change the state changes, because they always reverse policies [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Each revolution in the ministry produces a revolution in the state, since the maxim common to all ministers and nearly all kings is to do the reverse of their predecessor in everything.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.06)
     A reaction: Most parents bring up their children by trying to correct mistakes their own parents made. British democracy is rife with this desperate need for a new government to make its mark, because they want to win the next election.
In a direct democracy, only the leaders should be able to propose new laws [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: In order to stop ...the dangerous innovations that finally ruined Athens, no one would have the power to propose new laws according to his fancy; this right belongs exclusively to the magistrates.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Intro letter)
     A reaction: Aristotle says (somewhere!) that control of the agenda for meetings is the key issue in democracies. I assume any citizen can propose a law, but only a magistrate can put it on the agenda. Maybe a separate 'citizen's committee' could filter suggestions.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 7. Communism
The nature of people is decided by the government and politics of their society [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Everything is rooted in politics, and whatever might be attempted, no people would ever be other than the nature of their government made them.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Confessions [1770], 9-1756)
     A reaction: A striking anticipation of one of Marx's most important ideas - that society is not created by individual minds, because the nature of consciousness is created by society. The central idea in the subject of sociology, I think.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 11. Theocracy
If religion is law, the piety is justice, impiety is crime, and non-believers must leave [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: [In the first Hebrew state] religious dogmas were not doctrines but rather laws and decrees, piety being regarded as justice and impiety as crime. Anyone who defected from this religion ceased to be a citizen.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.08)
     A reaction: Presumably speeding offences count as impiety, and failing to pray is a crime. A critical question will be how far religious doubts must extend before one actually has to leave. Mere doctrinal differences, or full atheism?
Allows religious ministers any control of the state is bad for both parties [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: How pernicious it is both for religion and the state to allow ministers of things sacred to acquire the right to make decrees or handle the business of government.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 18.06 (1))
     A reaction: Interesting that he holds it to be bad for the religion as well as the state. In Britain we have bishops in the House of Lords.
In early theocracies the god was the king, and there were as many gods as nations [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: At first men had no other kings but gods, and no other government than a theocratic one. ....By the mere fact that a god was placed at the head of every political society, it followed that there were as many gods as there were peoples.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.8)
     A reaction: He must be thinking of the Old Testament histories here. (see Spinoza on that!). He says that the modern idea that these were all really the same god is ridiculous.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights
It is not a law if not endorsed by the public [Hooker,R]
     Full Idea: Laws they are not which public approbation hath not made so.
     From: Richard Hooker (Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity [1593], I s.10), quoted by John Locke - Second Treatise of Government 134 n1
     A reaction: Margaret Thatcher's Poll Tax, rejected by public rebellion, illustrates the point.
The sovereignty has absolute power over citizens [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: No offence can be committed against subjects by sovereigns, since they are of right permitted to do all things., and therefore offences occur only between private persons obliged by law not to harm one another.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.14)
     A reaction: This slightly alarming remark is the consequence of Spinoza's denial of natural rights. Nowadays we have international law to appeal to. Locke thinks revolution could be justified, but this implies the Spinoza does not?
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / b. Inalienable rights
We all own our bodies, and the work we do is our own [Locke]
     Full Idea: Every man has a 'property' in his own 'person'. This nobody has any right to but himself. The 'labour' of his body and the 'work' of his hands, we may say, are properly his.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 027)
     A reaction: He doesn't have any grounds for this claim. Why doesn't a cow own its body? He slides from my ownership of my laborious efforts to my ownership of what I have been working on. I can't acquire your car by servicing it.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / c. Property rights
A man's labour gives ownership rights - as long as there are fair shares for all [Locke]
     Full Idea: The 'labour' being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 027)
     A reaction: The qualification at the end is a crucial (and problematic) addition to his theory. What is the situation when an area of wilderness is 98% owned? What of the single source of water? Who gets the best parts? Getting there first seems crucial.
If a man mixes his labour with something in Nature, he thereby comes to own it [Locke]
     Full Idea: Whatever a man removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined something to it that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. ...This excludes the common right of other men.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 027)
     A reaction: This is Locke's famous Labour Theory of Value. Does picking it up count as labour? Putting a fence round it? Paying someone else to do the labour? Do bees own their honey? Settlers in the wilderness own nothing on day one?
Gathering natural fruits gives ownership; the consent of other people is irrelevant [Locke]
     Full Idea: If the first gathering of acorns and apples made them not a man's, nothing else could. ...Will anyone say he had no right to them because he had not the consent of all mankind to make them his?
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 028)
     A reaction: The ideas of Nozick are all in this sentence. Does this idea justify the enclosure of common land? The first member of the community who thought of Locke's labour theory had a huge head's start. Liberal individualism rampant.
Mixing labour with a thing bestows ownership - as long as the thing is not wasted [Locke]
     Full Idea: How far has God given us all things 'to enjoy'? As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of his life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 031)
     A reaction: This adds a very different value to Locke's theory, because the person seems to be answerable to fellow citizens if they harvest important resources and then waste them. Where do luxuries fit in?
A man owns land if he cultivates it, to the limits of what he needs [Locke]
     Full Idea: As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 032)
     A reaction: Industrial farming rather changes this picture. Does the man himself decide how much he can use the product of, or do the neighbours tell him where his boundaries must be? 'Reason not the need', as King Lear said. What if he stops cultivating it?
Soldiers can be commanded to die, but not to hand over their money [Locke]
     Full Idea: The sergeant that can command a soldier to march up to the mouth of a cannon ...cannot command that soldier to give him one penny of his money.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 139)
     A reaction: A very nice and accurate illustration of a principle which runs so deep that it does indeed look like a basis of society.
Fountain water is everyone's, but a drawn pitcher of water has an owner [Locke]
     Full Idea: Though the water running in the fountain be every one's, yet who can doubt but that in the pitcher is his only who drew it out?
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 029)
     A reaction: This would certainly be the normal consensus of a community, as long as there is plenty of water. The strong and fit gatherers get all the best firewood, so I suppose that is just tough on the others.
Private property must always be subordinate to ownership by the whole community [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Each private individual's right to his very own store is always subordinate to the community's right to all, without which there could be neither solidity in the social fabric nor real force in the exercise of sovereignty.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.9)
     A reaction: This may sound a bit drastic, but every country practices this principle, seen in compulsory purchase orders (e.g. to build a railway line). In liberal democracies you expect good compensation. In communist Roumania you were just moved. Also taxation.
Persuading other people that some land was 'owned' was the beginning of society [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say 'this is mine' and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: A wonderful riposte to Locke, who thought political legitimacy was based on property! Locke is way too simplistic about whether someone has a true right to their property. Highy dubious claims become ossified after a generation or two.
What else could propert arise from, but the labour people add to it? [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: It is impossible to conceive of the idea of property arising from anything but manual labour, for it is not clear what man can add, beyond his own labour, in order to appropriate things he has not made.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: A thorough endorsement of Locke's labour theory of value. It is not clear to me why you have to 'add' something in order to achieve ownership. Don't you own firewood just by picking it up? Golfers give ownership of a lost ball to the first one to see it.
Land cultivation led to a general right of ownership, administered justly [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: From the cultivation of land, there necessarily followed the division of land; and from property once recognised, the first rules of justice. For in order to render everyone what is his, it is necessary that everyone can have something.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: This looks rather obviously correct. You don't plant crops if you are not protected in your right to reap what you have sown, and you would expect to re-sow from the proceeds. Other people will want you to do this.
If we have a natural right to property, what exactly does 'belonging to' mean? [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Others have spoken of the natural right that everyone has to preserve what belongs to him, without explaining what they mean by 'belonging'.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Pref)
     A reaction: This is aimed at Locke. What Marxists will challenge is the legitimacy of property ownership, granted by patronage, enclosure, exploitation and conquest. These start as injustices, but that fades after a few generations. Locke has a labour-theory.
Property is a sacred right, breached only when essential, and with fair compensation [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no man may be deprived of it except when public necessity, lawfully constituted, evidently requires it; and on condition that a just indemnity be paid in advance.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 17)
     A reaction: This covers compulsory purchase orders. Is the ownership of slaves inviolable? Will aristocrats be compensated for the confiscation of their vast estates?
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / a. Slavery
Slavery is not just obedience, but acting only in the interests of the master [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: It is not acting on command in itself that makes someone a slave, but rather the reason for so acting. ...A slave is someone obliged to obey commands from a master which look only to the advantage of the master.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.10)
     A reaction: So if I forcibly enslaved you, and then only commanded things which were for your own good, that would not be slavery? If the master feeds the slave, is that not part of the slavery? Most jobs might count as slavery by this account?
Slaves captured in a just war have no right to property, so are not part of civil society [Locke]
     Full Idea: Slave are captives taken in a just war, and by right of Nature subjected to the absolute dominion and arbitrary power of their masters. ...Being not capable of any property, they cannot in that state be considered any part of civil society.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 085)
     A reaction: If the test of citizenship is being capable of holding property, presumably children and mentally damaged people (including the very old) will also fail to qualify. I see no principled reason why slaves should not be allowed to vote. Note 'just' war.
If you try to enslave me, you have declared war on me. [Locke]
     Full Idea: He who makes an attempt to enslave me thereby puts himself into a state of war with me.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 017)
     A reaction: So presumably actual slaves are in a state of permanent war with their owners. What of a woman who is enslaved by her husband?
A master forfeits ownership of slaves he abandons [Locke]
     Full Idea: A master forfeits the dominion over his slaves whom he hath abandoned.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 237)
     A reaction: How often did slave owners take a day off, I wonder? Presumably slaves will take back their freedom, even if the masters haven't 'forfeited' their ownership, so Locke's point is fairly academic.
Sometimes full liberty is only possible at the expense of some complete enslavement [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: There are some unfortunate circumstances where one's liberty can be preserved only at the expense of someone else's, and where the citizen can be perfectly free only if the slave is completely enslaved. Such was the situation in Sparta.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.15)
     A reaction: Rousseau wrote just before the moment when it was seen that slavery in European empires might be abolished, but he was not in the forefront of thought on this one. Greek philosophy would probably never have happened without slavery.
We can never assume that the son of a slave is a slave [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: To decide that the son of a slave is born a slave is to decide that he is not a man.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], IV.2)
     A reaction: Obviously this is because men are 'born free', though I am not clear how that maxim can be reached. I take it for granted that African slaves in the Americas found themselves born into slavery. No justification was required.
People must be made dependent before they can be enslaved [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: It is impossible to enslave a man without having first put him in the position of being incapable of doing without another.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: Ah yes. The key to running a slave plantation is not the threat of violence, but control of the shelter and food supply.
Enslaved peoples often boast of their condition, calling it a state of 'peace' [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Enslaved peoples do nothing buts boast of the peace and tranquillity they enjoy in their chains and they give the name 'peace' to the most miserable slavery.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: It seems to be a sad truth that enslaved peoples are less upset about their condition than outside observers are, especially in modern times, where slavery is usually deemed unacceptable. Slavery might be the best you can hope for.
If the child of a slave woman is born a slave, then a man is not born a man [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The jurists who have gravely pronounced that the child of a slave woman is born a slave, have decided, in other words, that a man is not born a man.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: The hidden premise of this enthymeme is that man is born free. A key issue of liberalism is the status of children. Are the children of religious believers automatically members of that sect? Can I be born a West Ham supporter?
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / b. Freedom of belief
Government is oppressive if opinions can be crimes, because people can't give them up [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Government is bound to become extremely oppressive where dissident opinions which are within the domain of each individual, a right which no one can give up, are treated as a crime.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 18.06 (2))
     A reaction: One might compare illicit desires, such as those of a paedophile, where it is a crime to act on them, but presumably they cannot be given up, so there is no point in legislating against the mere desires.
Without liberty of thought there is no trust in the state, and corruption follows [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: If liberty of thought is suppressed ...this would undemine the trust which is the first essential of a state; detestable flattery and deceit would flourish, giving rise to intrigues and every sort of honest behaviour.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 20.11)
     A reaction: Spinoza specifically defends philosophy, as the epitome of freedom of thought.
No one should be molested for their opinions, if they do not disturb the established order [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: No man is to be molested on account of his opinions, even his religious opinions, provided that their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 10)
     A reaction: Virtually any opinion will 'disturb' the established order a little bit, so this gives the option of suppressing quite mild beliefs, on the grounds of their small disturbance. It is still a wonderful proposal, though.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / c. Free speech
Treason may be committed as much by words as by deeds [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: We cannot altogether deny that treason may be committed as much by words as by deeds.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 20.05)
     A reaction: For example, betraying a major state secret. This is an important idea, for anyone who simplistically demands utter freedom of speech. There is also subversive speech, which is very hard to assess. Incitements can be crimes in Britain.
Free speech is very precious, and everyone may speak and write freely (but take responsibility for it) [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of man's most precious rights. Every citizen may therefore speak, write, and publish freely; except that he shall be responsible for the abuse of that freedom in cases determined by law.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 11)
     A reaction: Wonderful, and very nicely expressed. Tom Paine will have been a huge influence on this clause.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
The freest state is a rational one, where people can submit themselves to reason [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: The freest state is that whose laws are founded on sound reason; for there each man can be free whenever he wishes, that is, he can live under the guidance of reason with his whole mind.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.10)
     A reaction: I wonder if is not so much that the state is rational as that it is right. Freedom is submission to the truth. Rationality is only good because it arrives at truth. But is there a 'truth' about how a state should be run? Enlightenment optimism.
Freedom is not absence of laws, but living under laws arrived at by consent [Locke]
     Full Idea: Liberty of man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth. Freedom is not (as Filmer suggests) doing what you please while not tied by any laws.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 022)
     A reaction: That sounds plausible if the consent is unanimous, but a minority is not free if the laws made by a large majority are a sort of persecution.
Like rich food, liberty can ruin people who are too weak to cope with it [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Liberty is like those solid foods or full-bodied wines appriopriate for strengthening robust constitutions that are used to them,, but which overpower, ruin and intoxicate the weak and delicate who are not suited to them.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Intro letter)
     A reaction: Rousseau vision of a successful society involves robustly self-sufficient citizens (as in the American ideal), rather than people who are free, but easily led into dependence (in a 'nanny state').
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / f. Freedom to leave
A person is free to renounce their state, as long as it is not a moment of crisis [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Grotius thinks that each person can renounce his state and leave the country. (n15: provided it is not to evade one's duty the moment the homeland needs us; this would be criminal and punishable; it would not be withdrawal, but desertion)
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.18)
     A reaction: The obvious example is Britons going to America in 1939, or (more controversially) conscripts going to Canada to avoid fighting in Vietnam. I'm unclear whether the idea in the note is that of Grotius or of Rousseau). Is tax exile OK, then?
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / a. Grounds of equality
The social compact imposes conventional equality of rights on people who may start unequally [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Instead of destroying natural equality, the fundamental compact substitutes a moral and legitimate equality to any natural physical inequality. that men all become equal by convention and by right.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], I.9)
     A reaction: This does not pretend that equality is a natural right. The imposition of equality is virtually the main point of forming a state. Effectively, the state operates like an insurance company, treating all contributors as equal.
Three stages of the state produce inequalities of wealth, power, and enslavement [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Stage one gives law and property (producing inequalities of rich and poor), stage two gives a magistracy (producing weak and strong), and stage three is legitimate power becoming arbitray (producing master and slave).
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: This is the final answer to the prize essay question (with Idea 19772). What a beautiful analysis - and he didn't even win the prize this time!
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / b. Political equality
All citizens are eligible for roles in the state, purely on the basis of merit [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: All citizens being equal in the eyes of the law are equally eligible to all honours, offices, and public employments, according to their abilities and without other distinction than that of their virtues and talents.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 06)
     A reaction: This proclamation of meritocracy must have rung bells around the cities of Europe, and was a reason why many people enjoyed being invaded by Napoleon.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / d. Economic equality
All value depends on the labour involved [Locke]
     Full Idea: It is labour that puts the difference of value on everything. ...Whatever bread is worth more than acorns, wine than water, that is wholly owing to labour and industry.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 040)
     A reaction: In capitalism this is nonsense. Supply and demand fix all the values. Locke has slid from labour bestowing ownership to labour bestowing value. No one gets paid on the basis of how hard they work, except on piece rates.
The pleasure of wealth and power is largely seeing others deprived of them [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: If one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the height of greatness and fortune while the mob grovels in obscurity and misery, it is because the former prize the things they enjoy only to the extent that the others are deprived of them.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: This seems to be an accurate picture of ancien régime France, and it still applies to modern plutocrats. The pleasure of nice house is not that is very good, but that it is better than other house. Inequality gives a lot of pleasure!
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 4. Right to Punish / a. Right to punish
Self-defence is natural, but not the punishment of superiors by inferiors [Locke]
     Full Idea: It is natural for us to defend life and limb, but that an inferior should punish a superior is against nature.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 236)
     A reaction: He is obliquely referring to the execution of Charles I, even though he may have been legitimately overthrown. I wonder what exactly he means by 'superior' and 'inferior'. An idea from another age!
Punishment should make crime a bad bargain, leading to repentance and deterrence [Locke]
     Full Idea: Each transgression may be punished to that degree, and with so much severity, as will suffice to make it an ill bargain to the offender, give him cause to repent, and terrify others from doing the like.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 012)
     A reaction: I gather that the consensus among experts is that the biggest deterrence is a high likelihood of being caught, rather than the severity of the punishment.
Reparation and restraint are the only justifications for punishment [Locke]
     Full Idea: Reparation and restraint are the only two reasons why one man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that we call punishment.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 008)
     A reaction: But by 'reparation' does be mean retribution, or compensation? He doesn't rule out capital punishment, but that may qualify as maximum restraint.
We accept the death penalty to prevent assassinations, so we must submit to it if necessary [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Whoever wills the end also wills the means. ...The death penalty inflicted on criminals can be viewed from more or less this point of view. It is in order to avoid being the victim of an assassin that a person consents to die, were he to become one.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.05)
     A reaction: This seems to be roughly the spirit in which Socrates submitted to his death. I doubt whether many criminals agree with harsh punishments dished out to other criminals who get caught.
A trial proves that a criminal has broken the social treaty, and is no longer a member of the state [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The legal proceeding and judgement are the proofs and the declaration that a criminal has broken the social treaty, and consequently that he is no longer a member of the state.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.05)
     A reaction: This seems to be a plausible rationalisation of capital punishment, but what about lesser crimes. Is the interior of a prison a sort of temporary exile from the state? Hence the significance of whether prisoners are allowed to vote. But 19811.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 4. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
Primitive people simply redressed the evil caused by violence, without thought of punishing [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: More primitive men regarded the acts of violence that could befall them as an easily redressed evil and not as an offence that must be punished; they did not even dream of vengeance, except as a knee-jerk response.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: This may be Rousseau at his most optimistic, trying to deny a rather more aggressive streak in people, seen in children's playgrounds.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 4. Right to Punish / c. Deterrence of crime
Only people who are actually dangerous should be executed, even as an example [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: There is no wicked man who could not be made good for something. One has the right to put to death, even as an example, only someone who cannot be preserved without danger.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.05)
     A reaction: This formulation implies that we could execute a dangerous person as a deterrent, even though they were not guilty of this particular crime. I suspect that Rousseau was too nice to go through with that.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. Consultation
Plebiscites are bad, because they exclude the leaders from crucial decisions [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: I would not approve of plebiscites like those of the Romans where the state's leaders and those most interested in its preservation were excluded from the deliberations on which its safety often depended.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Intro letter)
     A reaction: I wish David Cameron had read this before 2016. This is exactly what happened with the Brexit referendum, where the people voted for an action entirely opposed to the preference of the majority of their elected representatives. Chaos ensued.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 2. The Law / a. Legal system
Rule of law is superior to autonomy, because citizens can see what is expected [Hooker,R]
     Full Idea: Men saw that to live by one man's will became the cause of all men's misery. This contrained them to come unto laws wherein all men might see their duty beforehand, and know the penalties of transgressing them.
     From: Richard Hooker (Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity [1593], I s.10), quoted by John Locke - Second Treatise of Government 111 n1
     A reaction: One British school has a single rule, that pupils 'shall always treat other people with respect'. Presumably the rulers, as well as the pupils, must decide when this is transgressed. The rule of law may be preferable.
The aim of law is not restraint, but to make freedom possible [Locke]
     Full Idea: The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom, for where there is no law there is no freedom.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 057)
     A reaction: This fits both the liberal and the communitarian view of the matter. Talk of 'freedom' is commonplace in England by this date, where it is hardly mention 60 years earler. John Lilburne almost single-handedly brought this about.
The state ensures liberty, so civil law separates citizens, and binds them to the state [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The relationship of members to each other should be as small as possible, and as large as possible to the entire body. ...Only the force of the state brings about the liberty of its members. From this relationship civil laws arise.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], II.12)
     A reaction: I'm guessing that these laws could be said mainly to prescribe both our rights and our duties. His four types of law are political, civil, criminal, and customary.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 2. The Law / b. Natural law
Human laws must accord with the general laws of Nature [Hooker,R]
     Full Idea: Laws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature.
     From: Richard Hooker (Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity [1593], III s.9), quoted by John Locke - Second Treatise of Government
     A reaction: The point simply seems to be that they won't get assent from the public if they are not in accord with natural justice. Positivists say you can make any damned law you like.
The order of nature does not prohibit anything, and allows whatever appetite produces [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: The order of nature, under which all human beings are born and for the most part live, prohibits nothing but what no one desires or no one can do; it does not prohibit strife or hatred or anger or anything at all that appetite foments.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 16.04)
     A reaction: This is as vigorous a rejection of natural law as I have met with. It is hard to see on what grounds anyone could disagree, other than hopeful sentiment.
It is only by a law of Nature that we can justify punishing foreigners [Locke]
     Full Idea: If by the law of Nature every man hath not a power to punish offences against [the state], as he soberly judges the case to require, I see not how the magistrates of any community can punish an alien of another country.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 009)
     A reaction: This is a nice point. You can't expect to be above the law in a foreign country, but you have entered into no social contract, unless visiting a place is a sort of contract. Intrusions into air space are often accidental visits.
Writers just propose natural law as the likely useful agreements among people [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Writers begin by seeking the rules on which, for the common utility, it would be appropriate for men to agree among themselves; they then give the name of 'natural law' to these rules, with no other proof than their presumed good results.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Pref)
     A reaction: The arguments for natural law strike me as quite good, but pinning down its content looks incredibly elusive, and at the mercy of cultural influences.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 3. Taxation
The consent of the people is essential for any tax [Locke]
     Full Idea: The legislative power must not raise taxes on the property of the people without the consent of the people given by themselves or their deputies.
     From: John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690], 142)
     A reaction: He will be thinking of the resistance to Ship Money in the 1630s, which was a step towards civil war. The people of Boston, Ma, may have read this sentence 80 years later!
The amount of taxation doesn't matter, if it quickly circulates back to the citizens [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: It is not on the basis of the amount of taxation that the burden is measured, but on the basis of the path they have to travel in order to return to the hands from which they came. If circulation is prompt and regular, the amount one pays is unimportant.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.08)
     A reaction: So the problem is when the government wants to build up a surplus, or pay off debts (or is corrupt, or even if it is suspected of corruption).
Everyone must contribute to the state's power and administration, in just proportion [Mirabeau/committee]
     Full Idea: For the maintenance of public force and the expenses of administration, a common contribution is indispensable. It must be equally apportioned among all citizens according to their abilities.
     From: Mirabeau and committee (Declaration of the Rights of Man [1789], 13)
     A reaction: Presumably this enshrines graduated income tax, an eighteenth century invention. Could you contribute just by your labour, or by fighting for the army? Those may be greater contributions than mere money.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 6. War
A state of war remains after a conquest, if the losers don't accept the winners [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: The conqueror and conquered peoples always remain in a state of war with one another, unless the nation, returned to full liberty, were to choose voluntarily its conqueror as leader.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)
     A reaction: Tricky if part of the conquered nation accepts the conqueror, and the other part doesn't, as in France in 1940. In a permanent conquest the state of war seems to fade away, as in England in 1066.
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 6. Natural Kinds / b. Defining kinds
Men started with too few particular names, but later had too few natural kind names [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Men at first unduly multiplied the names of individual things, owing to their failure to know the genera and species, but later made too few genera and species, owing to their failure to have considered beings in all their differences.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: The fact that two leopards differ is not a good enough reason to assign them to two different general terms. Adjectives can do all the necessary modification. The single general term acknowledges something important.
27. Natural Reality / C. Biology / 3. Evolution
Small uninterrupted causes can have big effects [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Negligible causes may have surprising power when they act without interruption.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part I)
     A reaction: A wonderfully simple observation that is a key idea of the theory of evolution. If life was created 6,000 years ago, evolution is impossible. If it appeared 500,000,000 years ago, how could evolution NOT occur? Little changes must occur.
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 1. Judaism
Hewbrews were very hostile to other states, who had not given up their rights to God [Spinoza]
     Full Idea: Having transferred their right to God, the Hebrews believed their kingdom was the kingdom of God, that they alone were the children of God, and that other nations were enemies of God, whom for that reason they regarded with extreme hostility.
     From: Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.23)
     A reaction: [He cites Psalm 139:21-2] So, according to Spinoza, they did not become the chosen people because they thought God had chosen then, but because they were the only state trying to align itself with God.