What Is The State Of Nature? Essays

What Is The State Of Nature? Essays

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What is the state of nature? And what will that variation lead to various ideal forms of governments? Modern social theorists attempted to dig deeper the question between human nature, human organization, and the legitimate political structure. Thomas Hobbes, one of the earliest modern theorists, sees human nature as self-interest driven yet rational. Jean-Jacques Rousseau evaluates that humans are physically equal while polluted by comparisons, division of labor and properties. Emanuel Kant, however, defines humans as rational while competitive, a group of people on the way to enlightenment. These different characteristics of the human nature yield out multiple interpretations of governance. Hobbes, in his famous quote, “Covenants without sword are but words,” states that only an absolute sovereign authority, namely monarchy, can protect the commonwealth with subjects submitting their natural rights. Nevertheless, the monarchical system, as criticized by Rousseau and Kant, fails to be the most effective means representing the subjects’ interests, and their inner development. Rousseau, a believer of aristocracy, rejects the presence of the individual will. Kant, an advocate of republican democracy, states that coercive monarchy fosters an abuse of power and is senseless in guarding categorical imperative.
Hobbes waves the flag of a monarchical government. In his state of nature, humans are driven by appetites and desires. Human beings enter into a state of competition when they fight for what they consider the greatest good. Given the situation that variability of desires, a scarcity of resources, and an unavoidable fulfillment of human desires (felicity), violent and unpredictable outcomes constitute a state of war. Thus, when hu...


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...e life and property of the individuals. Monarchy, after all, isn’t ideal to retain active spontaneity, and is useless in guiding the people to enlightenment.
The sword, in Hobbes’ words, is a common authority that the subjects yield to. It is a manifestation of the Hobbesian human nature, which is chaotic and self-interest-driven. Obviously, Hobbes’ overly pessimistic reception of human nature is seen as an overstatement of the reality. Rousseau and Kant, whose supports for the general will and categorical imperative, produce two hugely varied forms of entity. All in all, it was the thinkers’ understanding of the human nature that propels their ideal system of governance, which, essentially, corrects chaos and instability, and leads to desirable outcome both in terms of the fulfillment of individual and social demands, and the development of the humanity as a whole.

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