This is the 3rd article in this month’s series on Fidelity.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” ~ Exodus 20:12.
“[Would] that all the rulers of the earth [be] strangled with the guts of priests.” ~ Jean Meslier, paraphrasing a poem by Denis Diderot.
Students of the philosophical foundations of the American Revolution will be familiar with the English philosopher John Locke’s “Second Treatise on Government,” one of the classic formulations of the doctrine, echoed by the Declaration of Independence and Barbie in “Toy Story 3,” that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Locke’s First Treatise is less well-known. It consisted of a lengthy rebuttal to “Patriarcha,” a book by Locke’s rival philosopher Robert Filmer. Filmer argued that the idea that governments originated in a contract by the governed to delegate power to their governors was ahistorical and absurd and proposed instead that the power of kings originated with the patriarchal authority of the biblical Adam over his children.