Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era

Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era

by Jerome Huyler
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Books on John Locke abound, but until now none have captured the real Locke. By removing the layers of misperception that have clouded the philosopher's portrait for decades, Jerome Huyler reveals a startling new image that suggests a much stronger link between Locke's thought and the American Founding.

Huyler contends that authors as accomplished as J.G.A.

…  See more details below

Overview

Books on John Locke abound, but until now none have captured the real Locke. By removing the layers of misperception that have clouded the philosopher's portrait for decades, Jerome Huyler reveals a startling new image that suggests a much stronger link between Locke's thought and the American Founding.

Huyler contends that authors as accomplished as J.G.A. Pocock, Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, Thomas Pangle, and Joyce Appleby have largely misread or ignored Locke's influence on the Founders. Building upon and critiquing their pioneering works, Huyler argues that the American revolutionaries, the Federalists, the Antifederalists, and the Jeffersonian republicans were all committed to a set of moral and political beliefs which were readily available and clearly articulated in Locke's writings.

Huyler demonstrates that recent debates and controversies over the Founding—especially those pitting classical liberalism (i.e., Lockeanism) against classical republicanism—have obscured the fundamental influence of Locke's ideas. In these debates, classical republicanism defines a belief in civic virtue, active political participation, and an overriding concern for the many over the one. By contrast, Locke is portrayed as a thinly disguised Hobbes, promoting a liberalism of narrow self-interest, possessive individualism, and greed that ultimately leads to civil strife and a fragmented polity.

That is a false opposition and a false view of Locke, Huyler contends. He portrays, instead, an essentially moderate Locke, a seventeenth-century moralist who advocated an individualism that actually fits well with classical republicanism and that opposes certain elements and institutions which we too casually identify with liberalism and with Locke. In fact, Huyler argues, vigilant civic virtue and participation are absolutely essential to Locke. Far from being selfish and isolated individuals, Locke's citizens have every motive and incentive to associate and work together.

As Huyler persuasively shows, the "Lockean way of life"—a moral code that combines social cooperation with equality, individual rights, rational independence, and industrious self-improvement—was extolled in the eighteenth-century's most popular literary works and was central to the Founders' thought. After this book, our views of Locke and the Founding will never be the same.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author-a freelance writer with a Ph. D. from the New School for Social Research-states that "this book began as a doctoral dissertation," and, indeed, it has all of the virtues-and faults-of this genre: it's thorough, detailed, and prolix, with an exhaustive review and examination of the pertinent literature and extensive footnotes. Huyler traces the rise and fall of the academy's attitude toward the extent of Locke's influence on the founders of the American nation. Initially, Locke was considered to have greatly influenced the founders, but recent scholarship discounts this theory. This study argues persuasively that the original conception is the correct one. Recommended strictly for academic collections in history, philosophy, and political science.-Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700611089
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
01/28/1995
Series:
American Political Thought Series
Pages:
408
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.91(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >