Thomas Hobbes And John Locke 's Theory Of Social Contract Theory

1449 Words6 Pages
In this essay, I argue contemporary social contract theory extends itself beyond politics and into philosophy, religion, and literature. I begin by defining social contract theory and explaining the different perspectives of English philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. From there, I will introduce Dostoyevsky’s work, Grand Inquisitor, and conduct an analysis of the relationships between the Grand Inquisitor and his subjects as well as Jesus and his followers. Using textual evidence and uncontroversial interpretations of the authors’ works, I will draw parallels between the Grand Inquisitor’s relationship with his subjects to Thomas Hobbes’ vision of social contract theory. Similarly, I will draw parallels between Jesus’ relationship…show more content…
These varying “states of nature” inspired philosophers to develop warrant-based claims about the limiting or broad scope of such a social contract. As explained by Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan, the Social Contract is derived from an original condition of war. Hobbes writes, “The condition of man (as hath been declared in the precedent chapter) is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case everyone is governed by his own reason…” (Leviathan, XIV, p. 80). From this, we understand that, according to Hobbes, man is not a social animal when prompted with a boundlessly free society. With this claim, Hobbes counters Aristotle (see Politics), arguing instead for a perpetual societal condition of war. The need to control the evil, malicious, and irrational masses becomes the major theme for Leviathan; a goal of which Hobbes accomplishes through the advocacy of absolute monarchy and social contracts. Contrarily, John Locke presents a more positive worldview concerning the natural human condition and social contract theory. In his work Second Treatise of Government, Locke writes, “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions” (Second Treatise of Government, II). Here, Locke establishes that people in their natural state (“all equal and independent”) shall refrain from interfering with another individuals’ natural rights (life,
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