Essay about The State Of Nature By John Locke

Essay about The State Of Nature By John Locke

Length: 2370 words (6.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In the state of nature, mankind has utmost freedoms to do whatever he or she wants. John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government contends that the state of nature is the state of equality, where all are free to do as they please. But in this situation, men do not have the benefits of an established government. Security, privacy, and stable resources are provided not by the government, but by an individuals ability to secure such amenities. According to Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, those in the state of nature may form a mutually beneficial contract in order to survive. This contract entails creating a government or political authority that would provide for the general body in exchange for some of their natural freedoms. But according to Locke, true equality is in the state of nature, and so an established system would not be fair and equal in regulating an individual’s freedom. Rousseau’s The Social Contract aims to counter this by determining a government that not only upholds liberty, but creates true equality. For the purpose of this paper, freedoms and rights are two distinct objects which I will define. I will use Rousseau’s argument to support that claim that a social contract and the subsequent governing bodies are the entities that produces rights along with upholding them, in exchange for certain freedoms.
In the state of nature, a group will eventually have to form an agreement in order to survive. According to Rousseau, the resulting community is now its own body instead of just a group of individuals, now known as citizens. These citizens who are a part of the “sovereign” must follow the will of the sovereign. Rousseau presents the dichotomy of civil liberty - as the freedom with limits based on the gen...


... middle of paper ...


... the natural law. Within the civil state there are many laws that establish such a system. The social contract creates this system that holds everyone equally accountable. Within the contract, natural freedom is surrendered for rights. So everyone no longer has the freedom to do what he or she wishes. The contract entails what you are entitled to since you gave up your natural freedom. These are known as rights. Locke believes that there are innate rights in the state of nature; rights to life, liberty, and property. But in the state of nature, there are no mechanisms to ensure that these rights are protected. This essentially renders these rights useless, abstract, and non-existent. Because of this, the only way rights become meaningful and pertinent is in terms of a social contract and the subsequent governing bodies that produce rights along with upholding them.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about The State Of Nature By John Locke

- In the state of nature, mankind has utmost freedoms to do whatever he or she wants. John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government contends that the state of nature is the state of equality, where all are free to do as they please. But in this situation, men do not have the benefits of an established government. Security, privacy, and stable resources are provided not by the government, but by an individuals ability to secure such amenities. According to Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, those in the state of nature may form a mutually beneficial contract in order to survive....   [tags: Political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau]

Strong Essays
2370 words (6.8 pages)

Locke And Rousseau On The State Of Nature Essay

- Locke and Rousseau both discuss the topic of state of nature. They both agree that self-preservation is a fundamental rule in the state of nature. Locke says “Everyone, as he is bound to preserve himself…ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind” (§6) and Rousseau likewise states that one fundamental principle is “our well-being and our self-preservation” (14). They both agree that man has a genuine concern and care for humanity. Although they share this idea, the two are utterly different....   [tags: State of nature, Political philosophy, John Locke]

Strong Essays
1100 words (3.1 pages)

The State Of Nature By John Locke And Hobbes Essay

- Can man survive in The State of Nature. When faced with this question there are three majority answers that will be given. Yes, No or some will say, “Well it depends on who you ask”. Nevertheless, I am here to persuade you into questioning the reality of the state of nature, as it relates to Mankind Survival, through correlations and observations of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes’ writings. In J. Locke and T. Hobbes writing humans exist in two places. The first place is “The State of Nature”, a place in which one is referring to the state of nature; is when one speaks of a condition in which society is non-existing....   [tags: Social contract, Political philosophy]

Strong Essays
978 words (2.8 pages)

Locke 's State Of Nature Essay

- Hobbes and Locke both present states of nature in which the human race exists prior to, or without the formation of civil society. These states of nature present stark differences between one other that emphasize the different views the two author’s have on the natural human state. The states of nature each give rise to their own distinct and separate reasons for forming a civil society and, consequently, giving up rights in order to form a civil society. I will begin my essay by presenting both Locke’s and Hobbes’ state of nature and outlining their differences....   [tags: State of nature, Human, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke]

Strong Essays
1594 words (4.6 pages)

John Locke : A State Of Nature Essay

- The quote “Where there is no property, there is no justice” reflects the immense amount of weight John Locke places on property when developing his arguments in the Second Treatise of Government. Similar to Hobbes, Locke believed that there was a State of Nature and a State of War. However, contrary to Hobbes, Locke did not equate the two states, Locke believed that the State of Nature was habitable, but the State of War was “a sedate settled design upon another man’s life,” (pg.14); making it unbearable....   [tags: United States Declaration of Independence]

Strong Essays
1301 words (3.7 pages)

Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, And Rousseau 's Views On The Existence Of The State Of Nature

- Throughout the Age of Enlightenment, thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau contemplated the authority of the state over the individual: they are some of the most prominent theorists of this time period, and their studies have aided in the establishment of the Declaration of Independence as well as modern democracy. Each of these men’s historical expositions -- Hobbes’ Leviathan, Locke’s The Second Treatise, and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality and The Social Contract -- outline how man’s authentic state of nature contributes to the necessity of a social contract which exists in order to maintain civil society....   [tags: State of nature, Political philosophy]

Strong Essays
1308 words (3.7 pages)

The Second Treatise Of Government And A Letter Concerning Toleration Essay

- John Locke is a man of many opinions, many contradictions and lengthy explanations. The focus of this paper is primarily on chapter V of John Locke’s book, The Second Treatise of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration. Where Locke focuses on the topic of property, primarily man’s right to goods as long as he puts labour for it, restrictions to said right, and place of silver and gold in society. While the topics covered in this chapter are of importance and raise questions as to, if man consented to an unequal possession of earth, if man can fairly possess more land then needed without harm, if money represents wealth, and if the government should play a role in protecting disproporti...   [tags: John Locke, State of nature, Property]

Strong Essays
1121 words (3.2 pages)

The Second Treaties Of Government Essay

- The Second Treaties of Government was written by John Locke, and English political philosopher around 1688. John Locke was one of the most important and highly influential philosophers in England, and he is still relevant today. He was born August 29, 1632 in Wrington Somerset, England to John Locke and Agnes Keene. While he was an infant, his mother died, so he was raised by his father, who was a county lawyer and a military man. He attended the University of Oxford, where he studied medicine. John died on October 28, 1704....   [tags: Political philosophy, State of nature, John Locke]

Strong Essays
1200 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Thomas Hobbes And John Locke

- Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both have theories of human nature, but have very differentiating views of what life is like for humans in this state of nature before any civil society or government authority. Hobbes has a very negative view of human nature while Locke has a very positive outlook on human nature. The two different views have lead to many critiques about which theory may be stronger. Thomas Hobbes has a pessimistic view of human nature. He believes that without outside laws or government (in the sate of nature) humans are awful and destructive creatures....   [tags: State of nature, Political philosophy]

Strong Essays
1108 words (3.2 pages)

John Locke and Political Authority Essay

- In this paper I will look at how Locke uses of the idea of private property to justify coercive political authority, by using concepts such as the state of nature to frame the argument. I will also look at the strengths and weaknesses with Locke’s position, namely weaknesses relating to the lack of consideration given to the poor, and strengths relating to the rationality of his state of nature, his advocacy for democracy and his distinction between property establishing set boundaries. Finally I will suggest that his theory of government while providing a solid framework, does not account for everyone within society, and as a result lacks persuasiveness....   [tags: Private Property, State of Nature, Strengths]

Strong Essays
1547 words (4.4 pages)