Philosophy of John Locke Critical Essay

Introduction

Philosophy has often been found as the only subject that provides humanity with almost all the questions regarding life. Thousands of philosophical conjectures and theories have been postulated in a bid to shed some light on some of the complicated aspects of human life. Philosophers are among the most respected and celebrated members of the society. This is because their various discoveries have gone a long way to change the perception of humankind about life.

However, this field has one major disadvantage. The disadvantage is that the inventions made by philosophers are solely based on their own life experiences and most of them cannot be empirically proved. Most people have been coerced to believe in mere theoretical concepts that lack any tangible evidence to lend credence to their assertions. This essay will discuss the efficiency with which John Locke presents his philosophies as opposed to Karl Marx and Machiavelli who divulge loopholes in their concepts.

Daily Life Experiences

First and foremost, John Locke efficiently presents his ideas and concepts because they are derived from immediate environment of the people. John Locke not only uses his own experience but those of the entire populace as well to assert his concepts. It is therefore easier for people to comprehend the essence of the concepts because they can relate them to their own lives.

For instance, in his attempt to define the concept of ‘The Self’, John Locke presents his case in a manner that can be approved by anyone who understands its weight. He posits that the human mind is predominantly empty. He further states that the mind is influenced by factors such as reflection, experiences and sensations. It therefore becomes easy for anybody who goes through the above three named situations to concur with Locke. This is attributed to the reality nature of his statement.

On the contrary, a good number of other philosophers present ideas that are farfetched and without any relevance to the society. Such notions are difficult to be understood by the people because they cannot visualize the subject of the matter. The lack of an image of the subject in the minds of the people means that it will probably take them ages to fully fathom the meaning of the concept. A good example of such a philosopher is Machiavelli.

The fact that there is a lack of coherence among the concepts of Machiavelli suggests that each concept was formulated by impulse and without much consideration on its relevance in the society. Machiavelli generally formulated concepts in a range of fields, ranging from political science to religion. This lack of specialization could also be an indicator that his concepts were not inspired by the state of life in the society.

Karl Marx is also among those philosophers who came up with farfetched theories that could not be applied to the society. A good example is the Marxism theory. His description of a totally flawless society under socialism is farfetched and unrealistic. According to him, the society under socialism would be one where there is a sufficiency of everything without ever having to struggle for anything.

The possibility that this state of utopia can ever be attained in any society is a zero sum game. This is because all members of a society can never be equal. There are vast discrepancies in terms of talent endowment and inheritance and these would still cause the difference among the people.

Ambiguity

John Locke also presents his ideas efficiently because they are devoid of ambiguity. The facts presented in his concepts are unequivocal and state clearly the matter at hand. This feature contributes to the easy comprehension of his concepts by a majority of the people who come across them.

The fact that they are clearly defined enhances the step by step understanding of the people. An example of such a theory is his concept on the limits of accumulation. He clearly states that although labor creates property, the accumulation of property is contingent on the capacity of man to produce and consume. Such a simple statement leaves no room for a misunderstanding or misconception.

There are however other philosophers whose concepts are not clear hence leaving room for numerous interpretation. The lack of clarity of their ideas hampers their effectiveness to cause a desirable change in the society. For instance, in his view about religion, Niccolo Machiavelli reiterates that religion is manmade.

However, he does not go ahead to explain why he takes this stance about religion. Such a statement is bound to leave more questions than answers, especially because religion is a highly sensitive matter in society. It is also at the center of most values in society. This is because it is attributed to a supreme being. This statement by Machiavelli is therefore very ambiguous.

Karl Marx also makes ambiguous statements when presenting facts in some of his concepts. For example, when he posits that the overtaking of the capitalist society by the socialist society is inevitable, he leaves the audience in suspense by failing to mention whether the two can concurrently exist or whether the latter will completely phase out the former.

Marx does not talk of a transitional period between the two distinct types of societies. It is unlikely that total change can be abrupt. It is also unlikely that all the members of a capitalist society can change into a socialist society at one go and as one entity. This ambiguity hampers the easy comprehension of the audience.

Different Points Of View

Furthermore, John Locke manages to efficiently present his concepts because he does so from different points of view. He does not merely base his concepts on one vantage point to declare his theories but rather approaches them from the views of different personalities. For example, in his theories regarding religious tolerance, he approaches the subject from three perspectives. First and foremost, he acknowledges the fact that the concept of gauging different religious claims is far beyond the ability of humankind.

In his second point, Locke considers the possibility of gauging the claims and uses this view to argue that using violence to force all the people into one “true religion” will not lead to any constructive results (Ashcraft 27). Lastly, he clarifies that forcing people to relate to a particular religion is likely to lead to more commotion in the society instead of the anticipated order.

The other two philosophers predominantly use a single vantage point to present their concepts. They are therefore marginalized, myopic or even biased in the formulation of their concepts. Niccolo Machiavelli discusses religion as a mere tool of maintaining law and order. He presents it as an aspect that negatively subdues individuals and gives unscrupulous rulers the chance to misuse their authority.

He does not consider the fact that there could be other more meaningful causes for the existence of religion. By concentrating his discussion solely on the political effect of religion, Machiavelli furnishes the reader with insufficient information about religion.

Karl Marx also focuses only on the advantages of socialism that will be effective in replacing capitalism. He focuses all his attention to the positive effects of socialism in the society. These effects lack appropriate stratifications and equal distribution of resources in the society.

These benefits of socialism may be true, but Marx should have gone ahead to identify the negative effects of socialism as well. These effects may have included a slowed economic growth, lack of savings and investments by the people. The exclusion of these negative effects creates a false impression that socialism is wholly perfect.

Size Of The Population Involved

Lastly, John Locke is the best of the three philosophers discussed in this text because his concepts always involve the majority of the population. He does not dwell on trivialities. Virtually, all his concepts are centered on either the whole society or the majority of the society.

This is probably because he has the interests of the larger society at heart. An example of Locke’s concept which involves the whole society is the theory of value and price. This theory states that the number of sellers and buyers proportionately determines the price of a commodity. This concept involves everybody who is a buyer or a seller of any commodity in the market. This basically refers to almost all the populace.

Another concept of John Locke which involves the majority of the population is the theory of value and property. In this theory, he states that property is derived from labor and it is therefore a natural light. Furthermore, he posits that labor is what gives value to the goods provided by nature. This concept involves everybody who is a worker or laborer. Therefore, it involves a lot of people.

The other two philosophers’ concepts are majorly focused on the minority in the society. These minorities may be the rich, the rulers or the influential members of the society. By focusing primarily on these minorities, the concepts have done little to help the other majority of the population.

For example, in his book The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli’s message is directed to princes and other heads of states only. All the concepts in this book are meant to guide the leaders in their administrative activities. Such a book is of no use to the rest of the majority population who are in need of other serious things.

Karl Marx’s ideas are also predominantly focused on the minorities in the society. Marx spent a lot of his time writing about labor and its relation to the labor provider. He stated that if anyone is to give up on his or her labor, then that can be equated to a spiritual loss. He regarded labor as the capacity of an individual to change the world (Calhoun 97).

Since most of the society at that time was not engaged in any form of labor, Marx’s concept was directed at the minorities who had the privilege of being employed. The concept was irrelevant to the rest of the majority of the population.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be inferred from the above discussion that John Locke presents his concepts in a better manner compared to Niccolo Machiavelli and Karl Marx. This is because his concepts are focused on real life experiences, are free from ambiguity, are presented from diverse vantage points and they are focused on the majority of the population.

Works Cited

Ashcraft, Richard. Revolutionary Politics & Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. Print.

Calhoun, Craig. Classical Sociological Theory. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. Print.

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