The Foundation of Political Society
John Locke’s onslaught on Sir R. Filmer’s paternalism has diverted attention from his attempts to reconcile the historical precedent of patriarchal monarchy with the rational justification of the principle of consent. His assumption of the transition from the family to incorporation into political society by compact has been noticed; it has even been recognized as the example of how near he could get to a historical point of view. ‘Origins’, in Locke’s conception, has a historical as well as an Aristotelian meaning. It denotes foundations in the sense of what is supposed to have actually existed and in the sense of generally valid principles. Locke’s distinction between non-political and political relationships does not exclude comparability between them. The distinction is less sharp than he makes it out to be; it is unqualified only inasmuch as the father’s rule is limited in time and in the choice of penalties he can impose.