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Locke Marx And Machiavelli On Reasoning Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1399 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Reasoning is a crucial human attribute that separates an individual from the rest. It is believed that through reasoning, an individual’s mental faculty is in a position to generate inferences on the basis of assumptions or premises. In this sense, reason is viewed together with the concept of rationality. In this paper, the ideas of the three scholars, Locke, Marx and Machiavelli are put into perspective with a view to determining their stances.

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Locke made an endeavor to prove that reason did not merely consist of syllogistic reasoning. This is captured in his insistence that God was not that mean to make men two legged creatures. What this statement implies is that there is more to man than actually that which can be seen in physicality. To begin with, there is an element that shows need for inquiry with a view to proving the things that are known with certainty. Secondly, an investigation thus ought to be done on propositions. The affirmation or refutability of such propositions depends on chance (Locke, 45).

In a sense, Locke raised the concept of conformity. To Locke, conformity is based on either own experiences or private testimonies as raised by other individuals. In this regard, reasoning is based on the two aspects as presented by Locke. It also emerges that our experiences are modified by what people inform us. As people continuously go ahead to raise new ideas, the chance of talking their sides to the issue under discussion rises. In Locke’s words, there are certain degrees of assent that are given to any proposition. These degrees depend on the chance of that issue being held as true. Locke presumes that since people do not know for certainty they decide to work with what they perceive to be holding a bigger probability to go through. It is the right use of this assent that depicts the level of reasoning of an individual. Reasoning is based on the probability that the views presented present the best chance of something going through as expected (Locke, 46).

In the works of Locke, it becomes clear that reasoning is a process that is developed by listening and learning from others. On the basis of the convincing power that emerges, then one forms or upgrades their current level of thinking. Locke on this basis believed that humanity had the capacity to make good choices. This is reflected in his insistence that people have the right to choose the kind of government system to govern them. People can also recall such governments if they feel that their interests are not being taken care of.

The thoughts of Locke are informed by the role which personal experiences play in the reasoning exercise. As the scholar clearly puts it, it is through the ideas that individuals insert into their minds that influence or inform the way in which they reason. This is thus a process that takes time to develop. In this regard, the more an individual has got through interacting with other people, the better the chances of such individuals to reason better. In essence what an individual learns is what such people use in their thinking and reasoning exercises.

The concept of reason is viewed in relation to emerging world trends (Machiavelli, 1). On the basis of Niccolo Machiavelli, reasoning was viewed in relation to its effect on governance in the middle ages. It was a view in response to the need of establishing an independent political system. In a sense, the works of Machiavelli point to a disconnection between value and politics. Machiavelli draws from the past in pointing out how the past rulers had excelled. The point of focus by Machiavelli in this case is rested on the fact that such leaders were not only exclusively independent but also disconnected from the common societal populace. In Machiavelli’s ideal leadership, there was to be no place for religion and morality.

The reason of state must have informed Machiavelli’s thinking as he primarily focuses on the good of the state and not the individuals (George, 34). His reasoning in this case is that political leadership should not be subjected to peoples’ views. Peoples’ reasoning could only serve to derail the drive to stability within states. The political leanings of the scholar seem to have played a pivotal role in his stance on the issue. It is no surprise that Machiavelli opted to insist that morality had no place in the governance activities. Assuming there is a conflict in the works of Machiavelli, it rests between reason and revelation. This is without doubt a pivotal aspect in the ideas of Machiavelli. If a position that Machiavelli is opposed to Christianity is taken, explicitly stated, the conflict posits Machiavelli on one hand and reason on the other. The conflict that is mentioned between revelation and reason is seen to be an intuition held by Machiavelli. To Machiavelli it is better to have order as compared to reason. Niccolo Machiavelli appears to offer tranquility precedence ahead of reason (Machiavelli, 34). The scholar was thoroughly convinced that the overriding issue during his time was the need for peace. The predisposition of the scholar to politics must have influenced his thinking. What the scholar wanted to underscore was the fact that in politics, the likelihood of disagreement would be compounded if more people were to be required to offer their views. It is in this vein of thought that the scholar chose to rubbish the need for reasoning.

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On the basis of Marx, the concept of reasoning can be exercised historically. This can especially be done in any traditional or modern setting. Marx recognizes that the faculty of reason not only depends on the specific identity of the person but does also depend on the particularity of the character in question (Daniel, 53). To be in a good position to shade light on reasoning as presented by Marx, it is necessary to capture the assumptions made by his school of thought. According to Marx, reasoning is exercised in persons who remain the objects of historians’ studies and the historians themselves (Daniel, 53). This means that the ability one individual uses to find out the state of an issue area should remain similar to that that another will use to derive the same findings. This concept of reasoning is however not uniformly available to all people. Notable victims that lack the reasoning capacity are to be found in the masses. This is attributed to the false nature in which the masses live.

According to Marx, the reasoning capacity enables one to move out of the traditional way of inquiry (Daniel, 54). The point at which an individual is able to distance themselves from the shackles of tradition presents the point at which the individuals in question can reason. Without the first requirement of disconnecting with the society, an individual cannot conduct any meaningful inquiry as they will be misguided by their traditions.

In terms of what Marx presents, reasoning is seen as a function of disconnecting with previous biases that may be held by an individual (Daniel, 55). In this regard, the idea of creating a universal world that is free from the self was envisaged. Marx believed that for empiricism to be achieved then there was need to have a disconnected group of individuals from society. This is after the philosopher realized that past experiences would conspire to undermine objectivity. On this basis, the scholar believed that only those that chose to divorce their minds with the society would be in a position to think positively. It is thus on the basis of his views that reasoning could only take place in freed individuals, freed from societal biases.


Though Machiavelli appears to be opposed to reasoning, the two other philosophers, Locke and Marx seem to agree on the issue. Whereas Locke saw the role of past experience in the reasoning process, Marx also made the same realization though his focus was that a disconnection be struck between individual and tradition if the reasoning exercise was to be worthwhile. As indicated, the emergence that Machiavelli was obsessed with stability, he chose to ignore the role of reasoning. It is concluded that the three scholars offer an insightful contribution to the reasoning discourse and students and scholars in the field will affirm this.


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