Hobbes vs. Locke: Political Theories
Both Hobbes and Locke shared similarities within their political theories; however their theories also had some major differences. Both men were responding to the crisis of the 17th century and they were highly influenced by the scientific revolution. Hobbes and Locke rejected all previous theories regarding human nature. They used the same methodology, and the men accepted an atomistic view of society. They believed that individuals were rational and were motivated by self-interest. Hobbes and Locke traced their theories from a state of nature to the social contract. They agreed that the legitimacy of the government rested on the consent of the governed. Together, both men rejected legitimate political authorities such as Divine Right of Kings, brute force, historical tradition, and feudal contracts. Both political philosophers offered interesting arguments pertaining to government, human nature, and the state of nature.
Thomas Hobbes, a student of Descartes, was born in 1588 and lived through some terrible moments of human history, until he died in 1679. The Civil War, public executions, and The Spanish Armada negatively impacted Hobbes and his view of human nature. During his life it was dangerous to question the government, and surely man had no right to rebel. This negative opinion is further emphasized in Hobbes political theories, in which he concluded humans were selfish and ruthless. Hobbes believed that he and fear were born together. Oppositely, John Lock was born in 1632 and lived through peaceful moments in human history, until he died in 1704. He witnessed The Glorious Revolution and The Declaration of Rights, both in 1689. Society was tolerant and relatively free during this time. This peaceful transmission of power was reflected in his political theories.
The men shared a difference in opinion regarding the purpose of government that was needed to rule a civil society. Thomas Hobbes believed that the...
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