Faculty: Arts
Department: Department Of Philosophy




The influence of John Locke on early modern political society is widely recognized. His ideas regarding governance and life within the political society were widely adopted in the seventeenth century as they serve as better alternative to Monarchical order and absolutism. But John Locke’ believes that his chief contribution to the reform of governance was not these but rather his concept of liberty. His concept of liberty has come to embody large elements of myths and several nuanced interpretations which results in contrasting investigation of his scholarship on liberty by many Philosophers and Political thinkers. Such misreading of his concept of liberty has created some gaps in actual understanding and application of Locke’s notion of liberty amongst many contemporary political and social thinkers. Consequently, we hold that given these gaps, it would seem hard to optimally interpret and apply his concept which is aimed at liberating man. This dissertation examines the problem associated with Locke’s concept of liberty as can be articulated from his various political writings and responses. On the strength of this, therefore, an analysis of his concept for better understanding is enunciated here.. From the difficulties in understanding Locke’s idea of liberty flow the disagreements within the literature over the meaning of liberty and ultimately of the other concepts essentially bound up with it.. The fundamental problem of Locke's political theory is the proper understanding of his concept of liberty which usually pops up the question of how successful Locke was able to enlarge individual liberty in the society. This dissertation analytically revealed that Locke’s concept of liberty was a unification of positive liberty and negative, which manifests in public good. but not denying the fact that, there are elements of negative dimension which easily give the impression of excessive individualism and license to act without any legal restriction. This misreading of Lockean liberty also resulted in some thinkers asserting that Lockean liberty is synonymous with license .This dissertation posits that Lockean liberty is not license to act as one wants in a society but to act for public good Locke values the human capacities that these rights protect, because human capacities may only be fulfilled within society that is governed by laws aimed at achieving expanded liberty. In the present work, it is argued that, in Lockean individualism, living in the society is not without potential obligations, because society is built on contract. Locke cannot be well understood on the subject in view if one does not see the civil society as a product of sacrifice of liberty against the contemporary idea of liberty that is synonymous with license to act as one wants. Succinctly, this work admits that Locke’s conception of liberty essentially contributed to the emergence and spread of liberal ways of thinking about politics. The work helps us to understand that Locke’s concept of liberty is enjoyed when there is movement from individualism to expanded liberty which is manifested in public good.