Hobbes' Leviathan and Locke's Second Treatise of Government

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Hobbes' Leviathan and Locke's Second Treatise of Government comprise critical works in the lexicon of political science theory. Both works expound on the origins and purpose of civil society and government. Hobbes' and Locke's writings center on the definition of the "state of nature" and the best means by which a society develops a systemic format from this beginning. The authors hold opposing views as to how man fits into the state of nature and the means by which a government should be formed and what type of government constitutes the best. This difference arises from different conceptions about human nature and "the state of nature", a condition in which the human race finds itself prior to uniting into civil society. Hobbes' Leviathan goes on to propose a system of power that rests with an absolute or omnipotent sovereign, while Locke, in his Treatise, provides for a government responsible to its citizenry with limitations on the ruler's powers. The understanding of the state of nature is essential to both theorists' discussions. For Hobbes, the state of nature is equivalent to a state of war. Locke's description of the state of nature is more complex: initially the state of nature is one of "peace, goodwill, mutual assistance and preservation". Transgressions against the law of nature, or reason which "teaches mankind that all being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty and possessions," are but few. The state of nature, according to Locke's Treatise, consists of the society of man, distinct from political society, live together without any superior authority to restrict and judge their actions. It is when man begins to acquire property that the state of nature becomes somewhat less peaceful. At an undetermined point in the history of man, a people, while still in the state of nature, allowed one person to become their leader and judge over controversies. This was first the patriarch of a

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