Compare and Contrast the Views of the State of Nature Held by Hobbes and Locke.

Topics: Social contract, Political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 7 (2706 words) Published: November 2, 2008
I shall start off by first defining the meaning of A State of Nature. As the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau and Locke wrote about it, it means man when he was natural in his state of nature, uninfluenced by society, and the temptations of today. There are no rights in a state of nature, only freedom to do as one wishes. It is a term used to illustrate the theoretical condition of civilization before the states foundation in Social Contract Theories. In the dictionary it is described as “a wild primitive state untouched by civilization.” Both Hobbes and Locke discuss the state of nature with the positives and negatives in mind. Thomas Hobbs wonders what life would be like without a government to keep ruling over all of us, and John Locke believed the government should be working for the citizens and protecting them. Throughout my essay I am going to be comparing and contrasting their differences and similarities.

I begin my essay by first taking a look at John Locke and his opinions and beliefs. John Locke lived from 1632 till 1704; during his life he founded the School of Empiricism. He studied at the Westminster School in London; he gained a Bachelor of Medicine in 1674 after having studied at Oxford. He had never married, nor had he children; he died in 1704 after a long demur in his health. Locke published his Second Treatise of Government in 1689 anonymously as it an extremely strong minded piece of Political Philosophy. It outlines a theory based on contract theory and natural rights.

In The Second Treatise of Government Locke asks, What State all men are in? What is a State of Nature? From everything I have read, in my opinion, I believe Locke’s idea of state of nature to be a state of paradise, it sounds quite idyllic, no currency worries, no prejudice, no one man is better than the other. What State are all Men in? First of all Locke believed all men were born as equals, with a good and independent nature. It was in 1960 that Locke wrote his Two Treatises of Government, and within this he attacked the theory of Divine right of Kings and the nature of the State, as conceived by Hobbes. I read in detail his Second Treatise of Government and found it an extremely interesting read. Locke has a different view on the State of Nature in contrast to Hobbs; he supposed human nature was characterized by tolerance and reason. Locke believed human nature was what possessed men to act selfish, this is seen with the introduction of currency. Without currency and in a natural state, everyone was equal, “should also be equal amount another without subordination or subjection...” (Second Treatise of Government, Page 8). No one had more or less than the other. Therefore everyone was independent, and reliant on only their selves. Locke wrote: “For all men it’s a state of perfect freedom to order their actions/as they think fit, within the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man” Man had the right to do as his wished and that in true nature we are all reasonable beings, and therefore we should use our rationality to live together, not needing a social contract to bind us all, but using reason and instinct to guide us to living peacefully together. “What State are all men naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom, to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons.” (Second Treatise of Government, Page 8.) Locke claimed that a Political Society only came about because people gave up their natural power to protect their property, and gave into the hands of the community. Locke believed it to be the community that punished offences and handled disputes, for he feared a State of Nature didn’t have everyone’s rights protected, and therefore a Government was needed to protect their three absolute rights. These being Life, Liberty and Property.

In summarise, Locke believed a State of Nature was a placed where man makes his own natural laws, no one man has power...
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