03 October 2013

Life, liberty, and property

Having been frustrated by attempts to find the phrase “life, liberty, and property” in Locke's Two Treastises on Government (and made some interesting discoveries along the way) I believe I have the original quote at last: Second Treatise, Chapter VII, Section 87:

Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty, and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men

Life and liberty are a subset of property. And “estate” is interesting; what does that include?


Al said...

Means of living? Station in life?

Hunter said...

I'm reasonably certain that by "estate" Locke means what today we think of as "property", i.e. possessions, meaning chattels and real property. Think of a probate estate.

I think the word "property" to Locke, writing in the 18th century, was more likely to refer to the nature of a thing.

So in the quote you gave above, he is using one word in both senses, and he clarifies that with the enumeration.