Lecture 3 – locke: equality, freedom, property and the right to dissent

If so, then let’s go on to John Locke, another major scientist and another major founder of political and social philosophy and theory. I’ll do again what I did with Hobbes. We will again do briefly, for those who are not interested in lives and history. So first I introduce you, our friend today, John Locke. He was born in 1642 in Somerset. His father was a captain in a parliamentary army; a kind of small gentry, not particularly wealthy but not poor either. In ’52, he went to Oxford, and it was noted that he was “idle, unhappy and unremarkable” in Oxford. Well if you do not have a 4.0 at Yale, don’t panic. Right? You still can be John Locke. There are somebody who blossom later; he was a late blossomer. But by the end he was doing well, and in fact he became an official; you know, English universities called teachers officials. Officers – even at Yale, you know, we are called officers of Yale Corporation – kind of, I think, an old English

tradition. Anyway, he was admitted, and then in ’64 he gave an address to the college.
And this is a very important address because this is when we can learn the views of young John Locke. And quite clear from this address that, in fact, early in his life he was very traditionalist and quite authoritarian: The kings are good and the people are beasts. So in a way he was Hobbesian. In fact, you know, in the Two Treatises he stays away discussing Hobbes. But, of course, the ghost of Hobbes is all over the place. Right?
Well, a little about the times – ’49, I already mentioned, Charles I was executed. The monarchy was abolished for a time. Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England. But though he was very popular among many, he really could not control the struggle between the military and the parliament, and the chaos – what Hobbes experienced in the ’30s and early ’40s – in some ways continued. It was probably not as bad as before but was still very bad.
Well when Cromwell died, his son tried to become Lord Protector – did not succeed, and finally it was decided to call back Charles I’s son, Charles II, to become King of England. So the monarchy was restored. So these will remain turbulent years, and, of course, the kind of turbulence does color what Locke stood for.
Well, just a picture of Oliver Cromwell for you, and then Charles II, who was King of England for twenty-five years. Well there is a New Haven connection to all of this. Not all of you may know that. But I’m sure everybody knows where Whalley Avenue is, and where Goffe Street is. Well this has something to do with England and John Locke. Two of the judges of the trial of Charles I, Edward Whalley and William Goffe, were accused of regicide. And they escaped England in 1660, and they went to Boston. Well they did the wrong choice, right? They went where Harvard is, rather than going where Yale is. Okay? But Boston was an unsafe place, too much under the control of the crown. So therefore they went to the right place, right? And where can it be? Of course, New Haven. So they came to New Haven. And you probably know where West Rock is. Anybody was up on West Rock? A few of them. Well, in West Rock you see a sign which says “Judges’ Cove.” So if you go there, there is a little cove and, according to the legends, Whalley and Goffe hided in this cove. So here you go, history comes back home. Then they moved actually to Milford and lived in a house there, and I have a picture of this house. I don’t swear my life on it that this is really the house in which they hided, but that’s what some historian tells me.



Lecture 3 – locke: equality, freedom, property and the right to dissent