Thomas Hobbes And John Locke: The State Of Nature

Better Essays
The philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke had very different ideas as to what type of government would best suit a society leaving the state of nature. The two not only differed in their perceptions of the state of nature, but they stemmed their philosophies from radically dissimilar pictures of human nature. Despite a few partial-similarities, Hobbes’ and Locke’s theories are mainly contrasting. When it comes to human nature, Locke believed that all men are altruistic and inherently good in the state of nature. Their reason stems from their morality and all men are born equal, unless God says otherwise. Self-love corrupts a person’s ability to reason in Locke’s state of nature because the bias one may feel hinders his or her comprehension…show more content…
The desire for self-preservation creates an inherent competitiveness throughout the state of nature, one that drives the feelings of distrust and fear, and perpetuates the glory-seeking nature of all men. Even if a person seems like he or she is performing a good deed for someone else, their purpose is not to aid another, it is self-serving in the sense that it will make him or her feel and look good. Like Locke, Hobbes also believes that all men are equal, not because they were born equal, but because they can kill each other, which makes no one life worth more than another. These drastically different idea’s of human nature result in two distinct theories of the state of nature.
In the state of nature, both Hobbes and Locke agree that there is no legitimate form of government. Hobbes believed that it was every man for himself, while Locke thought that the law of nature bound men and prevented an uncontrollable state like Hobbes’; “But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license” (170). Locke believes that the state of nature has a law of nature. This law of reason governs the people to understand that just because men are all equal and independent, does not mean that
…show more content…
He believed that the people should be the basis of the government and that the power of the government is derived from the people’s feelings towards it. In the social contract, the people can revolt against an ineffective government, and it is the people who decide when a government is not longer acting in the best interests of its people. The only rights that people surrender are those that prevent the enforcement of the law of nature, all other rights remain intact. Since the issue in the state of nature was unintended biases that originated from the lack of reason, Locke suggests the idea of a legislator to act as the supreme power that represents the general good of the commonwealth, and the executive, that is the supreme power by default in the absence of the legislator, but is bound by a constitution. Unbiased judges and courts would then be responsible for punishing the transgressors of the natural law of the people, instead of potentially prejudice citizens. The overall purpose for the creation of a government is to insure the protection of a person’s life, liberty, and property. Unlike Locke’s values of freedom and liberty, Hobbes’ social contract is built upon order and safety. Like Locke, Hobbes social contract requires the reduction of individual liberties. However, Hobbes takes it a step further and believes that all people should give up all of their
Get Access