State of Nature

Topics: Political philosophy, Social contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau Pages: 4 (1374 words) Published: January 12, 2008
What is the state of nature? The state of nature is a term in political philosophy that describes a circumstance prior to the state and society's establishment. Philosophers, mainly social contract theory philosophers, and political thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau discussed and considered the "state of nature" as a starting point to their political and philosophical ideas. John Locke, whose work influenced the American Declaration of Independence, believes that the state of nature is the state where are individuals are completely equal, natural law regulates, and every human being has the executive power of the natural law. Similarly Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose writings are said to influence the French revolution, also assumed a state of nature prior to the formation of a "political person". However Rousseau had a different view about the state of nature. According to Rousseau the state of nature is a condition where private individual interest dominates over the public good and general will.
John Locke in his Second Treatise of Civil Government addresses the issue of state of nature. According to Locke, The state of nature is a condition earlier the development of society where all individuals are free and equal. Furthermore, it is a state where power and jurisdiction is "reciprocal". (Locke, 1690) No man has power over another and individuals are entirely equal. However, this liberty does not permit individuals to harm other's freedom or property. Therefore the state of nature has "a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one"...
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