Observations on Property in Robinson Crusoe and Second Treatise Essay

Observations on Property in Robinson Crusoe and Second Treatise Essay

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Observations on Property in Robinson Crusoe and Second Treatise        

 
  People have been fighting over land and possessions since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. But what actually constitutes the ownership of property? In the eighteenth century John Locke and Daniel Defoe addressed this question. In his Second Treatise, Locke defends the rights of people to property and he explains the basis for obtaining and maintaining dominion over it. In Robinson Crusoe, Defoe suggests a definition of property that concurs in part with Locke's, which indicates that people can claim ownership of property when they have added their labor to some part of it. In addition, Locke stipulates, according to principles of the rational use of creation's bounty, that people can claim as their property only what they can use for their sustenance--without wastefulness. Locke argued also that property owners must leave enough and as good for others to own. But his theory allows for the breaking of limits to ownership through the possession of money, which itself does not spoil or go to waste. Perhaps this view of money is why Crusoe takes it from stranded ships and hoards it even though he has no way to use it for his sustenance.

Crusoe apparently (though unknowingly) adheres to a number of other aspects of Lockean theory. At times, however, his sense of ownership seems to go a bit further than what Locke argued for. For example, Crusoe claims ownership over an entire island. Regarding his claim, there are at least two issues to consider. The first one is whether or not the island was already somebody else's property. The second is whether or not the entire island was his since he had not added his labor to the whole of it. Nor did he ne...


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...ng Crusoe: Locke's Political Theory in Robinson Crusoe." English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature. 69 (1): 27-36.

Curtis, Laura. The Versatile Defoe. London: George Prior, 1979.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. New York: Bantam, 1981.

Donaghue, Frank. "Enevitable Politics: Rulership and Identity in Robinson Crusoe." Studies in the Novel 27 (1): 1-11.

Kramer, Matthew H. John Locke and the Origins of Private Property. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government, the Works of John Locke. Vol.5. London: Thomas Teggs, 1823.

Novak, Maximillian E. Realism, Myth, and History in Defoe's Fiction. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1983.

Wood, Neal. The Politics of Locke's Philosphy. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983.

Woodward, Ralph L. Robinson Crusoe's Island. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1969.

 

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