Comparing John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Comparing John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all dealt with the issue of political freedom within a society. John Locke's “The Second Treatise of Government”, Mill's “On Liberty”, and Rousseau’s “Discourse On The Origins of Inequality” are influential and compelling literary works which while outlining the conceptual framework of each thinker’s ideal state present divergent visions of the very nature of man and his freedom. The three have somewhat different views regarding how much freedom man ought to have in political society because they have different views regarding man's basic potential for inherently good or evil behavior, as well as the ends or purpose of political societies. In order to examine how each thinker views man and the freedom he should have in a political society, it is necessary to define freedom or liberty from each philosopher’s perspective. John Locke states his belief that all men exist in "a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and person as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man." (Ebenstein 373) Locke believes that man exists in a state of nature and thus exists in a state of uncontrollable liberty, which has only the law of nature, or reason, to restrict it. (Ebenstein 374) However, Locke does state that man does not have the license to destroy himself or any other creature in his possession unless a legitimate purpose requires it. Locke emphasizes the ability and opportunity to own and profit from property as necessary for being free. John Stuart Mill defines liberty in relation to three sph... ... middle of paper ... ...Mill does not implicitly trust or distrust man and therefore does not explicitly limit freedom, in fact he does define freedom in very liberal terms, however he does leave the potential for unlimited intervention into the personal freedoms of the individual by the state. This nullifies any freedoms or rights individuals are said to have because they subject to the whims and fancy of the state. All three beliefs regarding the nature of man and the purpose of the state are bound to their respective views regarding freedom, because one position perpetuates and demands a conclusion regarding another. Bibliography: Works Cited Cress, Donald A. Jean-Jacques Rousseau “The Basic Political Writings”. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987. Ebenstein, William. Great Political Thinkers “From Plato to Present”. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1951.

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