Two of the most prominent figures in social contract theory, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke established many of the founding ideals that contemporary Liberalism is based on. While the shared many similar positions, there are some key distinctions to be made between the arguments Hobbes and Locke make in Leviathan
Social Contracts Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were two English political philosophers, who have had a lasting impact on modern political science. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both spent much of their lives attempting to identify the best form of government. Locke and Hobbes were among the most prominent of theorists when it came to social contract and human rights. A Social Contract is an agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, are the two basic figures of differentiating viewpoints when it comes to the social contract. While both agree that societies and governments should coexist with one another, their opinions on how the two operate in relation to one another differ on many important points.
He refutes Hobbes’ idea that man is naturally seeking to attack and fight by saying that man in the state of nature is actually man in his most timid form. He states that savage man’s needs are so basic (food, shelter, water, a woman) and easily found that he can have “neither foresight or curiosity”. By this man he means that man lacks the expansive nature that Hobbes’ believed they possessed (natural eternal quest for power). He continues on man’s basic nature adding “With passions so minimally active and such a salutary restraint, being more wild than evil, and more attentive to protecting themselves from the harm they could receive than tempted to do harm to others, men were not subject to very dangerous conflicts.” This is rather opposite of the state of nature in which Hobbes calls man in a constant war with man. He argues, that without society, in fact, that man would be much more pure and that the ills of society have dirtied man. He believed that human nature is very comparable to that of an animal in that it is at its based even natured, but that the separating factor between the two is free will. He argues that since society calls for more cooperation between men, it also causes more competition, creating many of society ills. Rather than saying man fled from the state of nature like Hobbes, Rousseau rather said that man needed society for division of labor as well as the division
Both Hobbes and Locke can be considered the “Founding Fathers” of liberal political philosophy. Both theorists give their own accounts of human nature as well as how and what their concept of a government should look like. Hobbes and Locke also agree on most aspects of each other’s theories but
Locke and Hobbes started with a central notion that people with similar “state of nature” would on their own accord come together as a state. Locke believed that individual would not perpetually be at war with each other. He believed humans began with a state of natural characteristics of absolute freedom with no government in site. Hobbes work differs from that of Locke’s because he felt people needed a strong central authority to ward off the inherent evil and anarchic state of man. Locke believed that within the state of nature man would have stronger morals and thus limit their actions. Locke also, credited people with the ability to do the right thing within a group. And the natural rights and civil society where Hobbes differentiated with this by believing that people had to resolve their natural rights and the their were privileges granted by the sovereign. Locke believed the relationship between citizens and government took the form of a social contract, in which in exchange for order and protections provided by institutions the citizens agree to surrender some of the freedoms within the state of nature. This was also, agreed that power of the state was not absolute but exercised according to law. If broken by the state it forfeits and the contract becomes void. This allots for the citizens of the state to have a “voice” and power for change to replace the government with moral obligation by the governed. Hobbes believed absolute power was the price man should
Rousseau believed that to uplift ourselves out of the state of nature, man must partake in the course of being the sovereign that provided the protection. The contrast between Rousseau’s concepts and those of the liberals of his time, originated with different understandings and interpretations of the state of nature. Classical liberal thinkers like Thomas Hobbes defined the state of nature as an unsafe place, where the threat of harm to one’s property was always an existent. He
The story “lord of the flies’’ by William Golding, the novel correlates to the philosophical views of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. John Locke was an English philosopher that surmised man's natural moral compass would point towards good, Locke's philosophical writings stated “ that individuals in a state of
America: Just Another England History tells us that a just and successful democracy has never existed, so why would we, as citizens, believe that we live in one now? Before our nation was established it was commonly believed that a democratic government was not feasible in a large scale setting. Yet,
Secondly, when we ask the question, what is freedom, we are not simply asking for a definition. We are seeking to find some truth in regards to liberty. We don’t ask this difficult question in order to get some sort of dictionary definition, we ask this question in order to gain insight. We ask this question to know how we should live our lives and how our government and other institutions should act in respect to liberty and our freedoms. Berlin’s two conceptions not only provide us with a definition, but also helps us determine how our society and laws should progress.
As I’ve stated before, Jean Jacque-Rousseau and Hobbes have contrasting views when it comes to the state of nature. Rousseau held an optimistic view of the state of nature. He viewed humans who lived in early times as “Noble Savages” and that man was “naturally good.” Rousseau viewed individuals who lived in a state of nature were happier, healthier, self-sufficient and had the freedom to do as they desired. To live in a state of nature was to live a simple life focused on family, self-love, and self-preservation. Rousseau believed we were better off in a state of nature, where as civilization corrupts us.
Human nature and its relevance in determining behaviors, predictions, and conclusions has caused dispute among philosophers throughout the ages. Political philosophy with its emphasis on government legitimacy, justice, laws, and rights guided the works of the 17th and 18th century philosophical writings of Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Through Thomas Hobbes world-renowned publication Leviathan and Rousseau’s discourses on basic political principals and concepts, each man validated their thoughts on human nature and what is required for a successful society within their respective government confines. The distinct differences between Hobbes and Rousseau’s opinions on the natural state of man frame the argument of the different
Limits must be put on freedom and inalienable rights. Hobbes lived in the 17th century, and wrote during the time of the English Civil War. His political views were most likely influenced by the war. Hobbes perceived that by bringing back the monarch, or any other sovereign, there would be an end to the civil war and is “necessary to peace and depending on sovereign power” (415). The original state of nature, according to Rousseau, is the perfect state for man, where he is born free but is everywhere in chains (The Social Contract, 49). In the original state, man lives alone in innocence where he is virtuous. Rousseau does not agree that man is an aggressive and greedy being in the original state of nature; in contrast, the life of man is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” as Hobbes suggests (Leviathan, 408). Rousseau argues that men are truly happy in the state of nature. Only when men become sociable, they become wicked. In Rousseau’s Social Contract, man is depicted as an ignorant, unimaginative animal.
Both Hobbes and Rousseau are in agreement that the idea of the state of nature existed before the inception of the political society. However, their view is very different from the concept of the natural state of man. On one hand, Hobbes believes that humans are cruel, malicious and pathetic such that everyone acts in a way that pleases them regardless of whether they pose a risk to others or not (Hobbes & Malcolm, 2012). Hobbes describes men as enemies of each other and that the only thing that pushes them to make peace is the fear of death and necessities that would guarantee them a decent life. It is the passion for self-regard and reputation that necessitates the need to a political institution to govern humans (Hobbes & Malcolm, 2012).
In Philosophy the argument of the state of nature often comes into discussion. However, two mainstream philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Jean- Jacques Rousseau have similarities, but mostly have multiple different ideas on this theory. Although Hobbes makes valid points Rousseau 's view on state of nature is more realistic then
While Hobbes and Rousseau address many of the same issues and topics in both The Leviathan as well as The Discourses, the way that Hobbes and Rousseau look at these issues such as, human nature, the state, and inequality are extremely different from each other. In some cases Hobbes and Rousseau’s opinions on these certain ideas are completely contradicting and opposite of each other. While it is tough to say which viewpoint, Hobbes’ or Rousseau’s is correct, one or the other can be considered sounder by their logic and reasoning. The view that Hobbes takes on the matters of human nature, the state, and inequality is sounder and more logical than that of Rousseau.