If free, why authority?

I have been thinking about the nature of freedom and authority. How do they relate to each other? Where does freedom stop and authority begin? It seems that true freedom recognizes the need for authority while just authority allows for the existence of freedom. Of course that sentence could take a book’s worth of pages to unpack. The British philosopher John Locke sums it up proficiently.

If man in the state of nature be so free, as had been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? Why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power?

To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he, every man his equal and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates, which I call by the general name, property.

The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. To which in the state of nature there are many things wanting (Two Treatises, Sections 123-24).

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About justicetheline

Above all I am a Christian Hedonist pursuing my ultimate satisfaction and joy in God. This blog contains postings about what God is teaching me through his Word, is an outlet for some of my photography, and will occasionally include stories about my experiences as a deputy sheriff on patrol. View all posts by justicetheline

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