Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau Essay

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Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau developed theories on human nature and how men govern themselves. With the passing of time, political views on the philosophy of government gradually changed. Despite their differences, Hobbes and Rousseau, both became two of the most influential political theorists in the world. Their ideas and philosophies spread all over the world influencing the creation of many new governments. These theorists all recognize that people develop a social contract within their society, but have differing views on what exactly the social contract is and how it is established. By way of the differing versions of the social contract Hobbes and Rousseau agreed that certain
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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.

Man has no reason or conscience when in contact with others. Possessions begin to be claimed, but the inequality of skill lead to inequality of fortunes. The idea of claiming possessions excites men’s passions, which provoke conflict and leads to war. Rousseau believes men are not perfect in their original state, but have the ability to live in a more perfect society with guidance of
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