(A) Comparing and contrasting the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are comparable in their basic political ideologies about man and their rights in the state of nature before they enter a civil society. Their political ideas are very much similar in that regard. The resemblance between Hobbes and Locke’s philosophies are based on a few characteristics of the state of nature and the state of man. Firstly, in the state of nature both Hobbes and Locke agree that all men are created equal, but their definitions of equality in the state of nature slightly differ. According to Locke, “…in the state of nature… no one has power over another…” Locke’s version or idea of equality in the state of nature is based around the equality of authority and control.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were seventeenth century political philosophers whose different beliefs stemmed from the different contexts in which each man lived.
Aristotle claimed that “the polis is one of those things that exist by nature, and man is an animal made to live in a polis.” For Aristotle, therefore, man is a political animal by nature. Society is an essential part of the natural state of man. For Hobbes, based on the meaning of equality, society as a political organization is precisely absent. He said: “States exist by convention, and conventions are manifestly man-made, so states are self-evidently artificial and thus nonnatural.” Moreover, Hobbes dissented from Aristotle on their understanding of the nature of man. Hobbes said that “men were not political by nature as bees and cattle were; their association depended on an agreement to observe justice among men who disagreed about who ought to receive what, and thus they needed common standards of right and wrong to regulate their affairs.” The origin of the society as a political organization therefore is the social
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke have authored two works that have had a significant impact on political philosophy. In the “Leviathan” by Hobbes and “Two Treatises of Government” by Locke, the primary focus was to analyze human nature to determine the most suitable type of government for humankind. They will have confounding results. Hobbes concluded that an unlimited sovereign is the only option, and would offer the most for the people, while for Locke such an idea was without merit. He believed that the government should be limited, ruling under the law, with divided powers, and with continued support from its citizens. With this paper I will argue that Locke had a more realistic approach to identifying the human characteristics that organize people into societies, and is effective in persuading us that a limited government is the best government.
The formation of government is one of the central themes for both Hobbes and Locke. Whether or not men naturally form a government, or must form a government, is based on man’s basic nature. According to Hobbes, a government must be formed to preserve life and prevent loss of property. According to Locke, a government arises to protect life and property. Governments are born of inequality and formed to administer equality.
One of the most important foundations of Hobbes political philosophy is his reasoning for the importance of government. Hobbes argues that without the presence of government human life would be unbearable, in fact he even goes as far as to say that without government we would live a life of everlasting war with one another. In this paper I will support Hobbes’ claims as to why government is vital, I will also compare Hobbes’ description of the state of nature to the state of the world today.
Hobbes and Locke’s each have different ideologies of man’s state of nature that develops their ideal form of government. They do however have similar ideas, such as how man is born with a perfect state of equality that is before any form of government and social contract. Scarcity of goods ultimately leads to Hobbes and Locke’s different states of nature that shapes their two different ideal governments because Hobbes believes that scarcity of goods will bring about a constant state of war, competition, and greed of man that cannot be controlled without a absolute sovereign as government while Locke believes that with reasoning and a unified government, man will succeed in self preservation of himself and others.
... of war. Hobbes interpreted government to be a single governing body, made up of the power of the masses. Hobbes contends that if there is no power to keep people in fear, they will continually be in war against each other. For this reason, the power of the sovereign must be absolute.
Hobbes’ Leviathan and Locke’s Second Treatise of Government are considered prevalent political writings, posing crucial theories, particularly the concept of a social contract; both philosophers reiterate the importance of transitioning from differing States of Nature to governed societies, but essentially vary as to the reason of ‘escaping’ the State of Nature. I argue the basis of the disparities between some of their theories lie in their definitions of human nature, which attributes to their descriptions of the State of Nature (and its compositions), which ultimately forms the foundations of their respective social contracts. This progressive effect stimulates the identification of key differences to which this response will discuss.
Locke and Rousseau present themselves as two very distinct thinkers. They both use similar terms, but conceptualize them differently to fulfill very different purposes. As such, one ought not be surprised that the two theorists do not understand liberty in the same way. Locke discusses liberty on an individual scale, with personal freedom being guaranteed by laws and institutions created in civil society. By comparison, Rousseau’s conception portrays liberty as an affair of the entire political community, and is best captured by the notion of self-rule. The distinctions, but also the similarities between Locke and Rousseau’s conceptions can be clarified by examining the role of liberty in each theorist’s proposed state of nature and civil society, the concepts with which each theorist associates liberty, and the means of ensuring and safeguarding liberty that each theorist devises.