Comparing John Locke and Thomas Hobbes

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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are two political philosophers who are famous for their theories about the formation of the society and discussing man in his natural state.

Their theories are both psychologically insightful, but in nature, they are drastically different. Although they lived in the same timeframe, their ideas were derived from different events happening during this time. Hobbes drew his ideas on man from observation, during a time of civil strife in Europe during the 1640's and 1650's. Locke drew his ideas from a time where Hobbes did not have the chance to observe the, glorious revolution. In uncivilized times, in times before government, Hobbes asserted the existence of continual war with "every man, against every man." On this point, Locke and Hobbes were not in agreement. Locke, consistent with his philosophy, viewed man as naturally moral.

Many people have different views on the moral subject of good and evil or human nature. It is the contention of this paper that humans are born neutral, and if we are raised to be good, we will mature into good human beings. Once the element of evil is introduced into our minds, through socialization and the media, we then have the potential to do bad things. As a person grows up, they are ideally taught to be good and to do good things, but it is possible that the concept of evil can be presented to us. When this happens, we subconsciously choose whether or not to accept this evil. This where the theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke become interesting as both men differed in the way they believed human nature to be. Hobbes and Locke both picture a different scene when they express human nature.

Even though they both believed that men naturally have to some extent equality and freedom, what makes their concepts differ is the presence or absence of the natural law. In Hobbes' theory, men at their natural state are at constant war, the war of all against all. Another Hobbes' belief is that most people are selfish and tend to do everything for their own reason. To Hobbes humans are driven to maximize personal gains so in a world where there are no rules humans are in constant fear of each other as they each try to get as much as they can, enough is never enough. Men act in basically the same ways to get what we desire and if two men desire the same things then they inevitably become enemies, no...

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...s evasive when it came to monetary exchange and its effects. Money tends to make the reasonable, unreasonable at times. We see evidence of this everyday as people are corrupted by money.

After viewing why a government should or would be overthrown we can look at Hobbes and Locke's theory's overall.

Hobbes' theory is a pessimistic look at human being and the way they act around each other but Locke's theory suggests that people are more easy-going and peaceful towards each other. Hobbes point of view on human nature and how a government should be run is a more realistic way of looking at things than John Locke?s theory though. Both Hobbes and Locke see human nature differently, Hobbes sees people as being run by selfishness whereas Locke says that people are naturally kind. As we see in the news daily, people are often cruel and inhumane, and we also see kinder people in everyday life. We see people who give up their own personal pleasure so they can serve others. But these people are far and few between, it becomes quickly obvious that humans are drawn towards self-happiness.

Bibliography:

1. Leviathan. Thomas Hobbes, edited by C.B. Macpherson. Penguin Classics (1968)
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