The Pretenses of Loyalty: Locke, Liberal Theory, and American Political Theology

By John Perry | Go to book overview

3
Locke’s Early Work
From Vizor of Religion to Veil of Ignorance

There hath been no design so wicked which hath not worn the vizor of
religion.

—John Locke, First Tract on Government

I esteem toleration to be the chief characteristic mark of the true
church.

—John Locke, Letter concerning Toleration


1. Toleration without Loyalty

In this and the next chapter I show that liberalism’s recent turn to loyalty is not altogether unprecedented. Locke’s own thought went through an analogous, even if not identical, turn. Observing this helps us better understand the contours of his thought, as well as his influence on liberal thought even to this day. Our study of Locke begins before Locke even is Locke as we know him today: in his oft-overlooked younger days as an opponent of toleration. This chapter explores this Lockean prehistory and explains the emergence of the thinker that we now identify as the founder of political liberalism. We can learn much not just by observing that he did move from supporting enforced religious uniformity to toleration but also how and why he makes this change. His view changed because he realized something analogous to what the thinkers examined in chapter 1 came to realize and what the thinkers of chapter 2 take for granted. Humans are constituted by deep and abiding moral loyalties that sometimes put them in tension with others and with their political communities; because of their depth, these loyalties are not easily harmonized by the ruler.

-73-

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The Pretenses of Loyalty: Locke, Liberal Theory, and American Political Theology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Lifting the Veil of Ignorance 15
  • 1 - Liberalism’s Turn to Loyalty 17
  • 2 - Harmonized Loyalties and Abstract Respect 49
  • Part II - John Locke’s Arguments for Toleration 71
  • 3 - Locke’s Early Work 73
  • 4 - A Letter concerning Toleration 103
  • 5 - "All at Once in a Bundle" 127
  • Part III - John Locke’s America 141
  • 6 - Refusing the Turn 143
  • 7 - Locke and Loyalty in Contemporary Political Theology 165
  • Conclusion 201
  • Notes 217
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 257
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