Action is the great business of mankind, and the whole matter about which all laws are conversant.

What did John Locke mean by:

Action is the great business of mankind, and the whole matter about which all laws are conversant.


This quote suggests that action is the essence of human existence and the primary subject of all laws. It implies that laws are not merely arbitrary rules but are designed to regulate human actions, which are the driving force of society. The phrase “great business of mankind” emphasizes the importance of action in human life, suggesting that our actions define us as individuals and as a society.

The quote also implies that laws are not just about preventing negative actions, but also about encouraging positive ones. They are conversant about action, meaning they talk, discuss, and debate about it. This implies a dynamic relationship between laws and actions, where laws continually evolve to respond to new actions and situations.

In today’s context, this quote could be seen as a call to action. In a world where issues like climate change, social inequality, and political corruption demand urgent attention, it reminds us that it’s our actions, not just our words or intentions, that will make a difference. It suggests that we have a responsibility to act and that our laws should support and guide these actions.

In terms of personal development, this quote could inspire us to focus on our actions rather than just our thoughts or feelings. It suggests that what we do is more important than what we think or feel. It encourages us to be proactive, to take responsibility for our actions, and to understand that our actions have consequences, both for ourselves and for others. This could lead to a greater sense of empowerment and self-efficacy, as we realize that we have the power to shape our own lives and the world around us through our actions.

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