Compare And Contrast The State Of Nature And Human Nature

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During the 17th and 18th centuries, great philosophers often sought to answer questions regarding the state of nature and human nature. In theory, the state of nature is a state where civil authority is essentially non-existent. Philosophers theorize about this state by examining human nature, known as a collection of the core qualities shared by all humans. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are two of the most prominent political philosophers from the seventeenth century who theorized about the state of nature and researched various aspects of human nature. Thomas Hobbes is an English philosopher and individualist liberal whose work contributed to a “modern shift in the history of western political thought” (Lam, 2007, p. 32). John Locke is an…show more content…
In the Second Treatise of Government, Locke describes that the pre-contract state of society is the state of nature where peace and harmony prevailed and every individual is born free. Locke’s account of the state of nature is a similar interpretation of democracy, where all people are born with certain inalienable rights. Moreover, Locke believes that in this state of nature men have true freedom to do and act as they please. In Locke’s state of nature, men honour their obligations and respect one another. According to Locke (1690), the state of nature is “a state of perfect freedom [for all] to order their actions […]” as they shall please (p. 8). Accordingly, Locke believes that liberty and freedom are most important for a good life (Lam, 2007, p. 66). Although violent conflicts are minimal due to the imposition of laws and law enforcers, this state is chaotic. Therefore, individuals give up a portion of their freedom to the state in order to secure a civilized society, where law and order are protected by the state. Locke’s state of nature is different from Hobbes’ concept of the natural condition in that Locke (1690) believes that “in the state of nature every one has the executive power of the law of nature” (p. 12). In the Second Treatise of Government, Locke describes that the pre-contract state of society is the state of nature where peace and harmony prevail and…show more content…
In the Leviathan, Hobbes states that man is a creature of desire. According to Hobbes, human beings are physical, sophisticated machines and human nature can only be understood in terms of bodies in motion. Unlike Locke, Hobbes does not believe that man is by nature a social animal. In fact, Hobbes believed that man can be defined by three premises: equality, egotism, and competition. Hobbes’ explains that competition arises as one man strives to satisfy himself over another man’s desires. In the Leviathan, Hobbes writes “from equality of ability ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore, if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and . . . endeavour to destroy or subdue one another” (Hobbes, 1651, p. 75). Moreover, Hobbes (1651) believes the state of nature is the state of “warre of every man against every man” (p. 188). That is, the state of nature is a state of perpetual war. As Hobbes expresses in the Leviathan, mankind’s natural condition is not one of blissful, peaceful, or noble savages, but of dangerous animals. According to Hobbes, human nature entails an endless pursuit of power. In this state, man is constantly struggling for power above all other things. As Hobbes describes in the Leviathan (1651), the general condition of mankind is “a perpetuall and restlesse
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