Locke: State of Nature & the New World | Philosophy Tube | Summary and Q&A

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June 30, 2017
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Locke: State of Nature & the New World | Philosophy Tube

TL;DR

Enlightenment thinkers' concept of the state of nature was conveniently used to justify colonization and oppression of indigenous peoples.

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Key Insights

  • 📏 The concept of the state of nature was a philosophical tool used to explore the origins of government and societal rules but was conveniently used to justify colonization.
  • 🥺 European colonizers perceived indigenous cultures as primitive and lacking civilization, leading to the devaluation and oppression of indigenous peoples.
  • ❓ Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke benefited financially from colonization and used their theories to support it, drawing upon contemporary legal and political realities.
  • 🥰 European colonizers suppressed indigenous language, culture, and art, imposing their own beliefs and practices.
  • 👍 The concept of the state of nature still influences attitudes towards indigenous land ownership, with First Nation Canadians having to prove ownership against the biased standards of European societies.
  • 👯 The discourse on the state of nature and the perceived inability of "backward countries" to govern continues to legitimize external rule over indigenous peoples.
  • 👻 Recognizing the context and consequences of Enlightenment thinkers' work allows for the creation of more ethical and inclusive philosophy.

Transcript

if you read any of the classics of enlightenment political philosophy thinkers like John Locke Thomas Hobbes and jean-jacques Rousseau you'll come across the idea of the state of nature a hypothetical time way back in human history when humans had no laws no governments no rules no property no social contracts no social organisations of any kind Ho... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Enlightenment thinkers use the concept of the state of nature to justify colonization?

Enlightenment thinkers believed that indigenous peoples in the Americas lived in a state of nature, lacking government and property rights. This allowed European colonizers to perceive the land as vacant and exploitable for economic gain.

Q: How did European colonizers interpret indigenous cultures and ways of life?

European colonizers saw indigenous cultures as primitive and lacking civilization. Instead of recognizing their different relationship to the land and governance structures, they perceived these differences as absence, ultimately justifying exploitation and oppression.

Q: Did indigenous peoples have their own forms of government and property?

Yes, indigenous peoples in the Americas had different governance structures and property systems. For example, the First Nation Mi'kmaq people in Canada had a political structure called the Howard County vitac dating back to the 10th century.

Q: How did Locke's idea of property and government contribute to colonization?

John Locke, an influential Enlightenment thinker, argued that indigenous Americans had no property and government due to their different practices and lack of centralized authority. This Eurocentric interpretation helped colonial powers justify the theft of indigenous lands and resources.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The state of nature is a hypothetical period in human history without laws, governments, or social organization, often explored by philosophers.

  • Enlightenment thinkers used the concept of the state of nature to justify colonization and exploitation of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

  • European colonizers viewed indigenous cultures as simple and primitive, leading to genocide, forced labor, displacement, and the suppression of indigenous language, culture, and art.

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