A Possible Explanation Why John Locke Is Such an Aggressive Critique of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan Idea

2412 WordsApr 30, 200910 Pages
Introduction Writing in the 1650’s, Thomas Hobbes sought to address the prevalent problem of war by seeking to obtain those rational principles that will aid the construction of a “civil polity that will not be subject to destruction from within.[1]” Hobbes employs the idea of a “social contract” to resolve that seemingly intractable problem of war and disorder. He begins by imagining how people were in their natural condition i.e. before the emergence of a civil society. According to Hobbes, in that natural condition all men are equal and all possess the power of rationality. However, they are also “fundamentally selfish '' each person’s desires are for his (or her) own survival and reproduction.”[2] As people increase in…show more content…
First, he argues that men and women in their natural condition do not have absolute power and so they are in no position to give it to the state. Locke argues from the common sense principle that no one can give what he or she has not. Human beings by their very nature do not have absolute power and therefore even if all men and women were to surrender all their power to the state, still it is not logically conceivable that the state will possess absolute power. Regarding the power of the Leviathan, Locke correctly articulates, “…it can be no more than those persons had in a State of Nature before they entered into Society, and gave up to the Community. For no Body can transfer to another more power than he (or she) has in himself (or herself); and no Body has an absolute Arbitrary Power over himself (or herself) or over any other…”[11] Secondly, Locke argues that allowing the sovereign to have absolute arbitrary power will cause more harm than good in case the sovereign turns against the people. Locke observes that the state still is made up of the same men and women who come from the state of nature. This means that those who make up the state are self-interested like everybody else. Giving them absolute power is very dangerous since in case they turn against their subjects no one will be able to stop them. In this light, Locke concludes that even the state of nature with its own ‘inconveniences’ would be a

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