Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both share the common vision of the role of a social contract to maintain order in a state. However, their philosophies were cognizant of a sharp contrasting concept of human nature. This essay aims to compare and contrast the social contracts of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke in respect to their definition of natural law. This essay will first analyze the pessimistic Hobbesian approach to the state of nature, the inherit optimistic approach of Locke, and then observe how their definitions directly affect their social contract.
The state of nature is the idea of life without society, government, state, or laws. John Locke and Hobbes both agree that the state of nature is equivalent to a state of perfect freedom and equality, although they both understand these terms differently. Hobbes argues that equality leads to inequality in the state of nature. Inequality arises from the idea of man having the right to pursue their self-interest, with no duties to each other. Without duties to each other when, “Any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies” (Hobbes 184). In the Hobbesian natural state, man is made up of diffidence and lives with no security other than what he can provide himself (Hobbes 185). By virtue, men will enter a continuous state of war for self-preservation because it is man’s natural right to act on what he thinks is necessary to protect himself.
On the contrary, Locke argues that
Locke’s idea of the state of nature men had kept their promises and honoured their obligations. In locke’s first treatise he argued that there was no divine right for monarchs, because God didn't put men above others and therefore everyone was equal. In his second treatise he strikes Hobbes and speaks his thought on the state of nature “man is free and in this condition all men equal”. For Locke, in the state of nature all men are free to order their actions, of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the of the law of nature. This idea influenced him to believe that human nature is represented by reason and tolerance the reasoning was "The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it", and that law is the reason. Much different than Hobbes, who had believed people were selfish and needed to be
Thomas Hobbes and john Locke were both enlightment philosophers who use the state of nature as a formula in political philosophy. Both Locke and Hobbes had tried to influence by their sociopolitical background, “to expose the man as he was before the advent of the social life” (). Locke and Hobbes addressed man’s relation to the society around him; however, they came to different conclusions regarding the nature of human government.
Thomas Hobbes was the first philosopher to connect the philosophical commitments to politics. He offers a distinctive definition to what man needs in life which is a successful means to a conclusion. He eloquently defines the social contract of man after defining the intentions of man. This paper will account for why Hobbes felt that man was inherently empowered to preserve life through all means necessary, and how he creates an authorization for an absolute sovereign authority to help keep peace and preserve life. Hobbes first defines the nature of man. Inherently man is evil. He will do whatever is morally permissible to self preservation. This definition helps us understand the argument of why Hobbes was pessimistic of man, and
A state of nature is a hypothetical state of being within a society that defines such a way that particular community behaves within itself. English philosopher Thomas Hobbes proclaimed that, “A state of nature is a state of war.” By this, Hobbes means that every human being, given the absence of government or a contract between other members of a society, would act in a war-like state in which each man would be motivated by desires derived solely with the intention of maximizing his own utility.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are comparable in their basic political ideologies about man and their rights in the state of nature before they enter a civil society. Their political ideas are very much similar in that regard. The resemblance between Hobbes and Locke’s philosophies are based on a few characteristics of the state of nature and the state of man. Firstly, in the state of nature both Hobbes and Locke agree that all men are created equal, but their definitions of equality in the state of nature slightly differ. According to Locke, “…in the state of nature… no one has power over another…” Locke’s version or idea of equality in the state of
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes are often viewed as opposites, great philosophers who disagreed vehemently on the nature and power of government, as well as the state of nature from which government sprung. Hobbes’ Leviathan makes the case for absolute monarchy, while Locke’s Second Treatise of Government argues for a more limited, more representative society. However, though they differ on certain key points, the governments envisioned by both philosophers are far more alike than they initially appear. Though Hobbes and Locke disagree as to the duration of the social contract, they largely agree in both the powers it grants to a sovereign and the state of nature that compels its creation.
According to Hobbes the state of nature leads to a war of all against all. What Hobbes refers to when he discusses the state of nature is a state in which there are no civil powers. To reach his conclusion about how the world would be in the state of nature, Hobbes first explains what human nature is and then explains the relationship between man and civil government.
Hobbes wrote that in order for men to have security and to escape the State of War that exists in the State of nature, they must "conferre all their power and strength upon one Man" and that this man will "beare their Person." In fact, Hobbes did not consider the State of Nature as having existed generally throughout the world. Locke on the other hand says that it is a state men are naturally in and will remain so unless men consent to form a civil society.
Amidst the bloodshed of the English Civil War, Thomas Hobbes realizes the chaotic state of humanity, which gravitates towards the greatest evil. Hobbes’ underlying premises of human nature–equality, egotism, and competition–result in a universal war among men in their natural state. In order to escape anarchy, Hobbes employs an absolute sovereignty. The people willingly enter a social contract with one another, relinquishing their rights to the sovereign. For Hobbes, only the omnipotent sovereign or “Leviathan” will ensure mankind’s safety and security. The following essay will, firstly, examine Hobbes’ pessimistic premises of human nature (equality, egotism, and competition), in contrast with John Locke’s charitable views of humanity;
According to Hobbes, the absence of authority delineates the state of nature. Hobbes believes that all men are equal in spite of the fact that some may appear smarter or tougher than others. In addition, humans are in perpetual state of war as they are self-centered and will often be willing to do anything that is at their personal interests (Hobbes, 1994). Locke however maintains that in the state of nature, humans live in accordance with reason and that there is no “superior” to act as the judge. Locke is of the view that the state of nature differs from the state of war, and that it contains equality and each person has identical powers (Locke, 2005).
Thomas Hobbes creates a clear idea of the social contract theory in which the social contract is a collective agreement where everyone in the state of nature comes together and sacrifices all their liberty in return to security. “In return, the State promises to exercise its absolute power to maintain a state of peace (by punishing deviants, etc.)” So are the power and the ability of the state making people obey to the laws or is there a wider context to this? I am going to look at the different factors to this argument including a wide range of critiques about Hobbes’ theory to see whether or not his theory is convincing reason for constantly obeying the law.
Since the beginning of the modern age, governments and states have existed in order to maintain moral law. Essentially these institutions are for the greater good of humanity. However, little thought is ever given to how humans lived without governments. Each and every person in the modern age is born into a state, and becomes a part of that state regardless of their will. The concept that humans are born into a state is derived from the social contract. The social contract is a voluntary agreement that allows for the mutual benefit between individuals and governments with regards to the protection and regulation of affairs between members in society. Essentially the idea is that citizens will give up some of their freedoms to the government in return for protection of their remaining rights. Throughout history, there have been a number of philosophers that have discussed the social contract and each philosopher has had there own social contract theories. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes was the foundation for social contract theory in Western political philosophy. While The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau was written a century later and inspired political reforms in Europe. Both Hobbes and Rousseau in their theories appeal to the social contract as being needed as a means to control man in society. However, their theories differ significantly on the basis of the state of nature, the phase after man has left his natural state and
In Hobbes book Leviathan, he makes the natural man out to be a self obsessed monster who is only interested in his own self preservation. This would intern leave the state of nature to be consumed with war, “...because the condition of man is conditions of war of everyone against everyone”. With out the constrain of government Hobbes states “So that in the state of nature man will find three principal causes of quarrel: first, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory” (Leviathan, 76). These principles would then leave men in the state of nature, with a life that Hobbes describes as “solitary, poor nasty, brutish, and short” (Leviathan, 76). Over all Hobbes view on the state of nature is a materialistic world where without an “absolute sovereign” the life of man would be nothing more then the “state of war”.
In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes lays out the hypothetical principal of the state of nature, where human it-self is artificial. It is human nature that people will not be able to love permanently, everyone against everyone power between the strongest. In this nation-state you must be the strongest in order to survive (survival of the fittest). In order to survive there are laws we must follow, to insure of our security because of fear. We were able to suppress our fear, by creating order, to have more order; we must have security, so the social contract appeared.
Hobbes believes that in the state of nature, humans have no laws, morals, police force, property, government, culture, knowledge, or durable infrastructure. Within this state of nature, people have no morals and do as they please without any consequence. As