Friday, August 10, 2012

Our Philosophical Past, Present and Future

Mary-Elaine Swanson’s book John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty is not light reading.  It is a scholarly work about the life and influence of the 17th century philosopher.  It’s not for everybody.  But for those of us whom it is for, it is wonderful.
Swanson begins by telling about Locke’s life, mostly through the words of his companions.  Then she shows how Locke’s thoughts and writings were instrumental in the Glorious Revolution in England in the late 1600s.  Next comes a great comparison of the American and French Revolutions in terms of the philosophies behind them:  the American Revolution being based directly on Locke’s ideas . . . and its French counterpart using a perverted twisting of them.  She closes the book with an analysis of how America currently seems to be headed away from our Revolutionary roots and toward the path of the failed French philosophy.
This is a historical work, meant for historical study.  One doesn’t read this book to get a general idea of the ideas and thoughts behind these great movements of world history.  One reads this book to understand what influenced these ideas in their formation, how they were communicated person to person, how they were adopted and rejected by various people in positions of influence, and how they have been misinterpreted and misappropriated over the years.  Swanson is trying to get at the original Locke and his original thoughts, defending him from the accusation that his political philosophy was rooted in godless rationalism.
If you are concerned about the direction of our country today, and you have the time and inclination to examine the philosophical basis of it, this is a great book to get you started. You can order it here at Amazon.

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own

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