State of Nature: Hobbes and Locke

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John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, more Locke than Hobbes however, have been enormous influential political philosophers for the modern political thought and development of England and the Americas. The topic and phrase “state of nature” is used and discussed significantly throughout. The similarities are shown extensively, but there are many differing views of opinion as well. While they both discuss how the state of nature is dangerous, Hobbes is more pessimistic, where Locke, on the other hand, discusses the potential benefits. Furthermore, Hobbes speaks about the state of nature as a hypothetical and Locke demonstrates shows us examples of where it truly exists.

The one great and outstanding similarity between Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature and John Locke’s state of nature is that they both discuss how dangerous a state of nature can actually be. Both suggest that men are equals in this state with Hobbes stating “Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of body and mind, as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind than another; yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man and man is not so considerable.” Likewise, Locke describes this nature as a “state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another.” Despite thinking alike in this regard, however, Locke and Hobbes warn of the risk of the state of nature. As was thoroughly discussed in class and made very apparent, the entire time Hobbes has man in a state of nature, he (man) is in a state of war. Hobbes so states, “if any two men cannot enjoy the same thing, they become enemies and in the way to their end…endeavor to destroy or subdue one another.” Similarly, Locke points out these risks, saying that without the “law of nature,” man may make decisions that lead to a state of war. To review, both men mention the dangers of the state or nature, and the states of war that are...
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