Compare and Contrast John Locke and Thomas Hobbes

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Compare and Contrast John Locke and Thomas Hobbes

By | May 2011
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Man: The Social Animal

Brian Greaney
Political Science 230
Prof. T. Mullins
April 18, 2011

John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were two main political philosophers during the seventeenth century. Hobbes is largely known for his writing of the “Leviathan”, and Locke for authoring "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding." Included in their essays, both men discuss the purpose and structure of government, natural law, and the characteristics of man in and out of the state of nature. The two men's opinion of man vary widely. Hobbes sees man as being evil, whereas Locke views man in a much more optimistic light. While in the state of nature and under natural law, they both agree that man is equal. However, their ideas of natural law differ greatly. Hobbes positions himself with the view that the state of nature is a state of war where every man is for himself and loyalty to another being will only bring dismay. Contrastingly, Locke sees natural law and the state of nature as a place of equality and freedom for all. Locke therefore believes that government is necessary in order to preserve natural law, and on the contrary, Hobbes sees government as necessary in order to control natural law. Hobbes and Locke see mankind's natural characteristics in two very different ways. Hobbes describes the life of man as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". It is obvious he does not view man in a high fashion. He also says that men cannot believe that there are others as or more wise than themselves, expressing his discontent with how selfish men are. Conversely, Locke views mankind's natural characteristics much more optimistically. He sees man to be governed by logical reason. Locke understands man to be capable individuals able to think rationally and have the desire to coexist peacefully. Hobbes and Locke disagree on mankind's natural characteristics, but dealing with natural law their degree of their disagreement grows much larger with little room for...

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