Locke and Publius

John Locke and Publius Valerius Publicola both believed in the capabilities of people to reason out for themselves. This reason is rooted in a commonwealth which is the product of the people’s rationality, forming, framing and judging that commonwealth. They both value the people’s ability to judge and interpret things, and that these people are the great considerations in creating rules and laws in the society.

John Locke is an English philosopher who is considered to be a British empiricist, but is an important proponent of the social contract theory (Krishnananda, 2004). This theory is the view that tells us about the people’s moral (and political) obligations depends on an agreement which is set between them in order to mold our society. The power lies in the people and that they are way above the government. The government is merely a tool of the people, such that they need the consent of these masses for them to go on with their governance. If not, it will eventually lead to a rebellion.

This means that the true power lies in the hands of the people, and that the government is merely a manifestation of that power. The people are protected by the rights of life, liberty and property, and that they have full potential in exercising these rights. The government is there to supervise and see that these rights of the people are achieved, and if not, the people could choose to reinstate another government in the form of a rebellion.

Locke’s perspective greatly affected the political philosophy and that he is considered to be a major proponent of the liberal theory. Being liberal means concerning yourself with the concerns of the people, thinking of their needs and welfare, like their health, housing, education their jobs, their rights and liberties. Being liberal entails that you are looking ahead and not behind, being open to new ideas without rigid or violent reactions. The people are the main cause of liberalism. They are the ones treated as being the most important. It doesn’t just battle local governance, it shows that people should be treated well, always looking forward to meet their needs.

Publius is a pseudonym that was taken up by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. This is taken from the Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola who was a proponent of the Roman Republic. Most of the writings are done by Alexander Hamilton, who wrote about 51 of the 85 Federalist papers. James Madison, who was greatly credited for the creation of the Constitution, has written about 29 of the papers. Meanwhile, John Jay, who wrote more or less 5 Federalist papers, became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The federalist papers that they wrote were pioneering. It became proponents of the law-making body of the country and that it could be accounted as important philosophical articles. When the Constitution was being thoroughly scrutinized in the late 1787, it was directly subject to criticisms especially by the anti-federalists. Anti-federalists papers under the pseudonym “Cato” and “Brutus” has surfaced.

In response to that, Hamilton began writing the federal papers to contradict the opponents of ratification. He responded by explaining the new Constitution to induce its ratification. He has written the first federalist paper wishing to satisfactory answer all the objections that seem vague or catch the attention of the people.

Hamilton recruited other people to write with him, and they took the roman name Publius, from Publius Valerius Publicola, who was not only a defender of the public but actually one of those who has contributed in shaping it. He was one of the first consuls who took position after the Imperial rule and has maintained it that way. He opposed the establishment and taking position of kings.

His surname actually meant “friend of the people,” that is why it really fits to be used as a pseudonym by those who fights for the rights of the people. Hamilton. The writings were generally pro-people federalism, and how it values a large following of the republic. It gives power to the national and state governments, and follows a certain central power at that. Hamilton and the others advocated this cause, which they see is fit for the United States, basically because it unites the power and governance under one head. Leadership and unity has really been a big factor in this set-up.

On being liberal

Both John Locke and Publius (Hamilton, Madison, and Jay) are liberals. Both of them believe in welcoming new ideas without the rigidity of reactions and that they always see through the people’s welfares. This is both their concern, making sure that they receive the appropriate attention in terms of benefits like housing, schools, rights and more. Their outlook is looking ahead, and not regretting decisions that they have made.

For John Locke, liberalism is a term attached with a lot of meanings, and that you could associate a lot of things to it. Locke associated liberalism with religion, wherein he clearly defines its difference with other types of liberalism. He compared religious liberalism to free-market liberalism, in terms of the age of existence. He said that this type of liberalism is in support of religious freedom, including tolerating it and the clear delineation of the church from the state.

It also gives the people freedom on how they will interpret the writings of the Scripture (Bible). This opens a new view for the people, since it is a perspective that rejects the idea of heresy, wherein you can get expelled or denied from the church, tried and burned at the stake, or be excommunicated from the society, thus greatly affecting your job and could cause loss of life and property. All of this is because if holding different or contradicting views of what is being taught in the church or by the religious authorities.

Publius Valerius Publicola’s take on liberalism was manifested by the writings, which prove to be pro-people. Even though it takes into consideration the concerns of leadership and ruling the country, they still take the people as a very important factor in the interests of the country.

He expresses his views and concerns regarding the people’s welfares through enacting and passing laws that enrich their rights to certain liberties. Federalism helps in securing democracy and human rights because it is given as a free choice to the public. If ever they are not satisfied in the condition of another place, say another state, he can clearly move to another. This is a clear representation of his efforts to promote liberty for the people even though he emphasizes on proper leadership and politics.

Similarities and differences

An evident similarity between Locke and Publius was their attachment to the people. For both of them, the people should be the center of concern and be the top priority for the leaders. Locke considers giving the people freedom and freeing them from the unjust standards and laws that has been put up before. In Locke’s time, people are wrongly tried, instantly getting death sentences when they oppose the view of church. He wishes to abolish that view and end the trials because of heresy.

He wanted the people to experience freedom not only with their right to live, but to be able to express themselves. They can also choose what they want to say for and against the church since it is their point of view. But many opposed this, especially those hugging the robes of the priests and church officials of that time.

On the other hand, Publius advocates the welfare of the masses with the emphasis of unifying under a single body of leadership. The surname itself is a manifestation of his attachment to the people. It means “People-Minder” or “Friend of the people” which he lives up to other’s expectations. He gave a lot of benefits to these people, thus raising their confidence on the importance of leadership, an essential ingredient of federalism which is what Publius rooting for.

The federalist papers are manifestations of their attachment to the people. They have devised it in a way that they are not hurting the interests of the majority while imposing unification under one head. Publius was proponent of excellent leadership, which doesn’t undermine the ideas of the people, instead stresses on their interests. These papers where written to support the constitution, and the constitution greatly considers the welfare of the people, along with these different states.

There are also obvious differences between the two. John Locke is more into the religious orientation. His ideology on liberalism was on a religious footing. It was clear that wishes to spread his ideas on religious liberalism to the people. John Locke is much more of a calmer personality, being peace loving in nature. On the other hand, Publius was more on the political orientation. He gives emphasis on what it takes to be a leader of a nation, wherein all the power lies in his hands.

He is undeniably a big influence in what we have today as the successful Federal government, which is why his outlook is highly political. In one of the writings, Publius stressed his disagreement of people involving into factions.

This is because it is detrimental in the interests of the federal state, and that it encourages conglomeration of people who are against something, instead of directly addressing it to the federal government. This is to avoid an imbalance in the power from the people, thus could lead into a political unrest. To prevent this, there are corresponding punishments to such same actions. This is a manifestation of his affirmation of ruling with an iron hand while embracing liberalism.

Locke and Publius’ attachment to reason

Locke has a clear view of reason and distinguishes it from what others perceive as faith. Faith for Locke is a settled, stable principle which emanates of an assurance and has no shadow of doubt and hesitation. Faith can only be measured if a person’s agreement is with respect to a testimony from God, a response to the words of the Creator himself. But the question of uncertainty arises here, wherein how can one be sure that the testimony comes directly from God, or really is from God.

Then we should have the liberty of checking on the credibility whether or not it came from the Creator himself. Weighing it against reason, Locke then distinguishes it by saying that it (reason) is the discovery of the actuality or the sureness of such claims or truths which the mind gets by making inferences and deductions. This are usually achieved with the use of man’s natural facilities, by using his senses and reflecting on it.

We have been given of a lot of ways to perceive things, including the perception of what is true, as it is related to reason. According to Locke, the reason is structured into the three degrees of knowledge, wherein it is related into making various judgments. Comparing faith and reason, the former is said to be the agreement to something that is proposed which is not through the basis of reason, but instead based on God’s authority, his most extraordinary ways. God has been a factor as to how we tackle things. Reason is based on senses and Faith is based on God’s intervention.

On the other hand, Publius has no concrete attachment to the concept of reason, wherein all his accounts can be justified towards his attitude on leadership and the propagation of peace and liberty in his reign. But as we can see, there may somewhat be a connection on the concept of reason with his pursuit of not affirming the rule of a king or monarchy, thus putting the rule into a sovereign body that would unify all necessary forces under one set of laws and rules.

This is a manifestation that he is concerned with reason, such that having a king signifies something devoid of reason since there is a dictator. One cannot fully get the grasp of liberty if there are those who are telling you what to do, and that is basically what the king does. So, this is a manifestation of Publius’ connection to reason.

Locke on Virtue

According to John Locke, we refer to the nature of our thoughts, the words we speak, and the action that we do as virtue. It is basically the center of our Absolute-Experience wherein we can attain the meaning of real happiness, the true goal of living a human life. We are veering towards self-realization, and as we go towards it, we don’t mind fearing punishment and any other forms that could discourage us from our goal. We are moving towards it since it is the true goal in life. This is how Locke grasps the concept of virtue, just like how Publius sees it.

Conclusion

John Locke and Publius are two different mindsets from different times. They may have different views on things, but they also have a lot of similarities. These two are truly great proponents of ideals and beliefs, and has been the reason for the establishment of various laws and regulations that are present in out society even today. Their countless contributions had been the basis of various ideologies that has spurn out of time from other great people. They are truly amongst the strong foundations of our society and their ideas prove great importance for everyone in the society today. Because of their ideas, we really owe them a lot.

References:

Krishnananda, S. (2004). Studies in Comparative Philosophy: John Locke.   Retrieved April 2, 2007, from http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/com/com_lock.html

Lendering, J. (2005). Publius Valerius Publicola.   Retrieved April 2, 2007, from http://www.livius.org/va-vh/valerius/publicola.html