History of Idea – Locke
OPTION ONE: One might make the argument that the most key passage in Locke is section 50, near the end of Chapter V, in which he concludes his discussion of gold (money) and the obtainment of a “disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth.” Read this passage very carefully. Do you agree that “men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth” through “tacit and voluntary consent”? Or was this imposed upon most men by the strongest among them? Can “a man fairly possess more land” than he can use “without injury to anyone”? Does money (i.e. gold and silver) represent real wealth in goods and services? What is, or should be, the role of government in securing the right to and protection of “disproportionate” wealth? To what extent is this, indeed, the key or core of Locke’s Second Treatise? This option invites, perhaps, critique of Locke or discussion of wider political-philosophical issues raised by or in the Second Treatise. (Remember: just don’t answer the previous questions … use them to brainstorm, not to organize your essay!!! And, if you entertain “wider political-philosophical issues” don’t lose sight that your primary goal is to demonstrate that you understand Locke’s text!)
OPTION TWO: A careful reading of Locke’s notions about property development, spoilage, and so on, might lead you to conclude that he would be opposed to “excessive” capitalist development of real estate (i.e., say a Donald Trump tower on Miami-Dade wetlands), or perhaps the reverse. Explore to what extent you think Locke’s ideas in The Second Treatise are significant for arguments for or against large-scale real-estate development. This option provides an occasion to apply Locke’s ideas (especially in Chapter V) to the contemporary reality of land development that we see all around us in South Florida. Is development always “industrious and rational,” as Locke seems to imply, or can it sometimes represent “the covetousness of the quarrelsome and the contentious”? (Section 34). Does development always serve the common good or does it sometimes, or often, serve only the wealthy? (As with Option One: do not answer these questions per se; they are offered as brainstorming cues. Also, don’t forget that your primary goal is to demonstrate that you understand Locke’s text!)) If you have some facts about Trump or South Florida real-estate from the internet, you may use them (in which case cite your source): this is an exception to the “no research” instructions above, and in general you should not be taking up much paper space with such.
OPTION THREE: To what extent does Equiano’s awareness of his lowly status as a slave impel him to turn to a European religion; adopt European (capitalist) business practices; and become an ‘individual’ in the European and/or Enlightenment sense of that term? Do you think Equiano abandoned his ‘roots,’ by participating enthusiastically in European wars, religion, and commerce (including the slave trade), etc? Did he ‘sell out’ to some extent? Obviously, Equiano is a complex character. He was an abolitionist but he also participated in the slave trade and advocated the colonization of Africa (at the end of his memoir). Try to explain some of the tensions or contradictions in his character, by looking both at his psychology and at some of the social forces at work in the Eighteenth Century or Enlightenment era. It’s up to you to devise a main point about Equiano that gets at his complexity without being meandering! (Again: don?t just answer the questions!)
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