Society and Government

analytical Essay
1858 words
1858 words

Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government have produced two definitive and vastly different theories of government. Though both philosophers seem to be embedded in the concept of a natural law, why do Hobbes and Locke seem to come to two opposing conclusions about society and government? The answer lies in critical distinctions between their interpretations on the state of nature, including their conjectures on human nature, their perceptions of freedom and equality, and their ultimate reasoning for civil society.

Human nature is an integral part of the state of nature theory. Hobbes’ theorizes that human nature is flawed, with men being naturally selfish and hedonistic: “of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some Good to himselfe” (Hobbes, 1996, p. 93). This suggests that in a natural state, humans are only guided by their own needs and wants. As a result, Hobbes believes that the only law that governs the state of nature is maintenance of self-preservation. This gives rise to a clashing of desires, which compels man to undermine any concern for others and put oneself above all else.

The extent to which man is able to undermine others for the sake of self-benefit is also limitless according to Hobbes: “in this law of Nature for where no covenant hath preceded, there hath nor Right been transferred and every man had right to everything; and consequently, no action can be Unjust” (Hobbes, 1996, p. 100). There is a clear Hobbesian view of morality that begins to take form. Good and evil seem to be relative to Hobbes. Because of this, each individual in the state of nature has varying perceptions of morality, which often conflict, creating disagreement that only incites violence. This pr...

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...have consent in order to act. This essentially gives sovereign power to the people. This philosophy is also consistent with Locke’s favor for a republican structure of government.

The apparent difference seen between the political theories of Hobbes and Locke can be attributed to their differing views on the state of nature. The development of mankind as a selfish being living in a state of war and violently attempting to obtain equality naturally lead Hobbes to conclude that an authoritative power is needed to instill order to chaos. On the other side of the spectrum, Lock molds the state of nature to be a state of peace, and attributing men to Reasonable creatures and consequently creates a representative government where the people hold sovereign power. Essentially, these theories seem are a result of a pessimistic and optimistic framing of nature and humanity.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that thomas hobbes' leviathan and john locke's two treatises of government have produced two definitive and vastly different theories of government.
  • Explains that hobbes' theorizes that human nature is flawed, with men being naturally selfish and hedonistic. this suggests that humans are only guided by their own needs and wants.
  • Analyzes how hobbes supports the use of an absolute sovereign to establish a concrete verdict of what morality truly is.
  • Explains that hobbes' assertion of human nature is rooted in the concept of equality among men. though men are not genetically equal in strength or intelligence, each man is equally susceptible and vulnerable to others in nature.
  • Analyzes how hobbes' definition of war refers to the hostility and volatility of man in a state of nature, and the fear and anticipation that accompanies livelihood in such an unpredictable and potentially dangerous environment.
  • Compares the views of hobbes and locke on man's natural tendencies.
  • Analyzes how locke, similar to hobbes, suggests that there is also equality among men in the state of nature.
  • Analyzes how hobbes and locke have dissimilar definitions of freedom within the state of nature. the formation of a civil society contradicts the established description of liberty and liberty.
  • Compares locke's explanation of freedom with hobbes'. the law of nature governs three inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.
  • Analyzes how hobbes and locke emphasize the importance of consent in the formation of society.
  • Analyzes how locke suggests a system that is polar to hobbes. though the concept of consent is consistent, the defining characteristic can be found in his belief that political power cannot be forced upon others.
  • Compares hobbes' and locke's political theories on the state of nature, and argues that both are pessimistic and optimistic about nature and humanity.
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