Monday, June 23, 2014

Bentham on Filmer & Locke

In an unpublished manuscript, Jeremy Bentham wrote:



Filmer's origin of government is exemplified everywhere: Locke's scheme of government has not ever, to the knowledge of any body, been exemplified any where. In every family there is government, in every family there is subjection, and subjection of the most absolute kind: the father, sovereign, the mother and the young, subjects. According to Locke's scheme, men knew nothing at all of governments till they met together to make one. Locke has speculated so deeply, and reasoned so ingeniously, as to have forgot that he was not of age when he came into the world...Under the authority of the father, and his assistant and prime-minister the mother, every human creature is enured to subjection, is trained up into a habit of subjection. But, the habit once formed, nothing is easier than to transfer it from one object to another. Without the previous establishment of domestic government, blood only, and probably a long course of it, could have formed political government.[10]


Bentham went on to claim Filmer had failed to prove divine right theory but he had proved "the physical impossibility of the system of absolute equality and independence, by showing that subjection and not independence is the natural state of man".


10. J. C. D. Clark, English Society, 1688-1832. Ideology, social structure and political practice during the ancien regime (Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 75-76.


Source:  Wikipedia