Compare and Contrast John Locke and Thomas Hobbes

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Man: The Social Animal Brian Greaney Political Science 230 Prof. T. Mullins April 18, 2011 John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were two main political philosophers during the seventeenth century. Hobbes is largely known for his writing of the “Leviathan”, and Locke for authoring "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding." Included in their essays, both men discuss the purpose and structure of government, natural law, and the characteristics of man in and out of the state of nature. The two men's opinion of man vary widely. Hobbes sees man as being evil, whereas Locke views man in a much more optimistic light. While in the state of nature and under natural law, they both agree that man is equal. However, their ideas of natural law differ…show more content…
Locke believed that people are willing to unite under a form of government to preserve their lives, liberty, and estate. Since natural law is already good, government not only preserves natural law, but also works to enhance it. The ideas presented by Hobbes and Locke are often in opposition. Hobbes views humanity much more pessimistically; viewing men as evil according to natural law and government a way to eliminate natural law. Locke takes a much more optimistic stance; viewing government a means to preserve the state of nature and enhance it as men are naturally peaceful and equal. Discarding the differences in ideology, their ideas were radical for their time. The interest they took in natural law, man's natural characteristics, and the role of government, provided inspiration for, and was the focus of many literary works for the future. In my opinion both philosophers provide a very convincing argument towards man in the state of nature and natural law. It all comes down to whether an individual can function without being governed, or whether he needs guidance in his everyday life. Hobbes Leviathan to me seemed the quintessential handbook for despots. That one ruler ruling over an entire nation would be rational if only the leader was fair and provided justice to his citizens if favor of the citizens. However referring to the state of nature, I believe that man has been endowed with reason which would fuel our self-preservation. In a
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