Thomas Hobbes and the Social Contract

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Thomas Hobbes and the Social Contract

When analyzing the modern social contract theorists, one must take into account the conditions that the philosopher was living in while devising his social contract. Each theorist: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes all have the same idea but each has his theory rooted in very different beliefs. Rousseau formulated his theory in the middle of the French Enlightenment and the same theory breathed life into the intellectual basis for the French Revolution; furthermore, he based his theory on those of Locke and Hobbes and then pointed out what he thought should be different. John Locke elaborates on the rights of man by including specific “natural rights” that were guaranteed to man. Finally during the English civil war, Thomas Hobbes wrote his book, The Leviathan, in which he explains his perspective on the state of human nature, the foundation needed for a social contract, as well as—use and—less wordiness what determines a legitimate government under the terms of the social contract. Although his works have received much criticism, out of the three theorists, Thomas Hobbes’ theory is the most important (Because ?...)Where’s the rest of the thesis? Main focus of the essay.

In The Leviathan, Hobbes begins by explaining man’s state of nature. Hobbes explains the state of nature or man before government, institution or laws as a constant state of war. He elaborates by saying that people’s individual rationality, as well as the fact that all people are roughly equal in power, dictates the violent, ‘preemptive aggressive, nature of man (Hobbes). Hobbes also explains the motivations that drive man to be in a state of conflict; man is inclined to be violent because of scarce resources, diffidence and religious disagreements. Finally, Hobbes sums up the life of man in the state or nature as one that is solitary, nasty, poor, short and brutish:

“Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a...
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