Men and masculinity in Filmer & Locke toward a critique of 'enlightened' manhood

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University of New Brunswick


From the perspective of the critical study of masculinities, this project seeks to look back in time at an example of just how the separation of affect from political life might have been effected in the pages of our intellectual history. Through the use of a single case study, that of John Locke’s (1632-1704) refutation—located largely in his First Treatise (1688)—of the theories of Robert Filmer (1588-1653)—located in his Patriarcha (1680)—I illuminate how the anatomy of a particular contest in the history of political thought can be seen as contributing to the elaboration of what would become the dominant Anglo-American masculinity necessary for the modern/liberal social contract. I take a critical approach to the meaning of Enlightenment manhood, understanding it as a masculinity that unsustainably approaches political, social, and familial relations with a version of reason and rationality that is stripped of affect and care.