“Locke’s Doctrine of Human Action”

Mark Blitz, “Locke’s Doctrine of Human Action” in The Claremont Review of Books, 26 Aug 2002.

Excerpt: “The fullest freedom might seem to be dwelling within the fullest suspension or indifference with no choice ever being made. Utter suspension, however, would result in inaction and even in the lack of thought, for unease leads to industry in order to relieve it. Once we have judged that we have done all we “can or ought to do in pursuit of our happiness,” then it is a “perfection of our nature” that we actually will and act in accordance with what we have determined. (1, 7, 21) The saving grace is that unease always will continue as long as preservation is challenged and our will is determined by unease, not placidity. The fullest freedom is suspension for the greatest possible relief from unease. The deepest or at least most lasting types of unease that Locke wishes to cultivate are desire for production, and desire to know the ways and means to satisfy our desires generally and the consequences of satisfaction. His goal is the maximum degree of productive thought and action. True freedom requires not only suspension but a broad enough outlook that narrow or peculiar religious or other conventional views do not dominant? It is suspension that allows rational calculation to direct preferences and that therefore requires preferences to come to light as amenable to rational control.”

Claremont Review of Books