Locke vs Hobbes

Topics: Political philosophy, Social contract, State of nature Pages: 4 (1383 words) Published: May 24, 2013
Hobbes vs Locke

Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke both developed theories on human nature, the state of nature, how men govern themselves and the dynamics of the social contract. With the passing of time, political views on the philosophy of government steadily changed. In spite of their differences, Hobbes, and Locke, became two of the most influential political theorists in the world.

Hobbes believed that man is not by nature a social animal, that society could not exist except by the power of the state. The state of nature, “no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Leviathan I 13) Hobbes stated that “during the time men live without a common power to keep them in awe, they are in that condition called war; and such a way as if of every man against every man” (Leviathan I 13). Hobbes said that without a powerful centralized state “to hold man in awe”, every man had a natural liberty to do anything he wanted to in order to preserve his own life. Hobbes believed that man would be locked in an eternal struggle with each other over attainment of limited resources such as food and shelter. This natural liberty without doubt leads to chaos as there would be in continuous violence and conflict as each individual imposes his or her will on others to gain access to limited resources necessary for their own survival. Men would naturally fear that they will be invaded and take preventive strikes on others. Others would be free to retaliate and take the law into their own hands. In a state of nature people cannot know what is theirs and what is someone else’s. Property exists solely by the will of the state, thus in a state of nature men are condemned to endless violent conflict. In practice morality is for the most part merely a command by some person or group or God, and law merely the momentary will of the ruler. Sometimes Hobbes comes close to the...
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