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The Empire of Habit : John Locke, Discipline, and the Origins of Liberalism, Hardback Book

The Empire of Habit : John Locke, Discipline, and the Origins of Liberalism Hardback


John Locke's political thought provides much of the theoretical underpinning for our own liberal democracy.

According to Locke's liberalism, the rights and freedoms of civil society are grounded in natural law, which is known and observed by all citizens. In this volume, John Baltes challenges this interpretation of Locke.

Examining Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Baltes reveals a Locke who is in conflict with the natural-law philosopher found in his famous Two Treatises of Government.

In his works on epistemology and education, Locke describes morality as a construct and human nature as malleable.

Drawing on Foucault's concept of discipline, Baltes reconsiders Locke's liberalism and shows that it requires citizens governed not by natural law but habit, that is, subjects who are constructed by carefully controlled space and visibility and regulated in their conduct to become capable of self-government.

The Empire of Habit thus offers not only a new reading of one of the most important political philosophers of the Western tradition but also new insight into our own political liberalism. John Baltes is an independent scholar of political theory.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Political science & theory
  • ISBN: 9781580465618



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