Hobbes and Locke

Topics: Political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes, State of nature Pages: 4 (1159 words) Published: August 8, 2011
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both set out important arguments on the nature of government that continue to influence the way in which we think about the relationship between the governed and the government. Compare and contrast Hobbes’ and Locke’s arguments, with specific reference both to their reading of the “state of nature” and the kind of contract that each imagines to exist in the very concept of a governed community. Although each is making claims to a universal understanding of man, to what degree were their ideas influenced by their interpretation of history?

Hobbes and Locke both set out valid yet differing views on the nature of government that influence our thoughts regarding how we are governed. The first thing we have to take into consideration is the age of Hobbes and Locke at the time of the Glorious Revolution in England as it was a critical point molding their thoughts regarding their understanding of men and the form of rule to be implemented in society. We can see that Hobbes unlike Locke was much older and perceived it much differently to Locke who was much younger and less mature in his thoughts regarding the matters associated with the Glorious Revolution.

In the Leviathan, Hobbes gives us an insight on his perception of social contract. He recognizes a ‘state of nature’ in which people have the mindset of ‘who we are as we are’, basically a state of anarchy where the three basic causes of the conflict are competition, diffidence and glory. It is a situation where every man fights for his own survival, fights to prove his supremacy and acquire the glory associated with it. This state is also referred to as Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes, the war of all against all. When a form of authority crumbles down, people are left to their own governance and proceed to do only what they see as self-beneficial. This is especially true even in modern day. In Iraq, after the Saddam regime was toppled, the first thing that people did was loot the...
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