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Locke and Hobbes

By venuspun0712 May 01, 2013 867 Words
Locke and Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are two famous philosophers who existed during the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The two men had divergent views pertaining to the nature of man and the ideal forms of government. While both men's ideas were proven true, they did reflect on their personal experiences basing on the period of times in which they existed. Their beliefs impacted on the world around them, and they have continued to shape governances throughout history. Though both men's ideas still hold some truth in today's world, Locke's ideas are the most clearly supported. Locke's belief was that each man is born with equality, freedom and independence. According to his views, men can form social contracts, which are able to draw a nation together. In his Second Treatise on Government, Locke states that "no one can be put out of this estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent, which is done by agreeing with other men, to join and unite a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living... " by this he ideally implies that every individual deserves a right of freedom but for one to receive a government's security and protection, they ought to sacrifice some of their freedom. Locke applies the idea of democracy whereby every individual takes part in creating the leadership of a nation. He further conceived that, if a political authority improperly uses its powers, like the absolute monarchy, then they should be overthrown (Source G). This is what is seen to be actually happening today. Locke's idea of governance is best demonstrated by the American republic where different types of people coexist peacefully. On the other hand, Hobbes conceived that men were born with no rights. He also did not believe in the idea of democracy but instead supported the thought of absolute monarchy. He affirmed that "men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man (Hobbes, 1998, p. 218)." He was opposed to social contract based on his belief that all men had desires to pursue different things, and these desires had a possibility of triggering conflicts which would then easily break the social contract. Hobbes view on the state of nature was that the life of man was, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short (Hobbes, 1998, p. 191)." He had little faith in people compromising with one another and running a country in a peaceful manner. These ideas are no longer applied in the contemporary world except for a couple of nations as North Korea where absolute monarchy is still being practiced. Eventually, it is true that, of the two philosophers, Locke's ideas have been the most influential in defining modern politics, individual rights, perspectives of human nature, and the forms of popular constitutions that are now in place. His significant importance in governmental view is better understood and known. Locke has exercised tremendous influence in both America and England. Locke, in his Two Treatises of Government, states the view that a nation exists to protect its citizen's natural rights. When the government fails in a particular task, its citizens possess the right or the duty to disengage their support or even rebel. Why We Need More, Not Less, Government by Amy stresses Locke's idea, in that when the people are dissatisfied about what the government is doing for them, then they have a democratic right of improving their lives by preventing such problems from recurring. Nevertheless, Hobbes has to some extent also influenced the actions than can be taken by individuals so as to bring the said changes to the government, and though that may be the case, John Locke is still considered as the honorary founder of America. As observed, his ideas have been applied by United States presidents including Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence as well as through the principles of dividing powers, which are a part of the constitution. In addition, Locke's ideas have been adopted in the "Libertarian Party Platform" whereby people seek to build a world "where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power." Basically, the idea of Locke pertaining to the natural rights of man to life, property and liberty is widely practiced by most societies today, especially the United Kingdom and the United States, where the basic role of the nation is to protect the mentioned rights (Libertarian Party Platform, 2010). Hobbes' and Locke's ideas were influential and do manifest various aspects of the present day governments. Nevertheless, it is clear that most of Locke's ideas have been modeled in the modern world; a classic example being the American constitution, while Hobbes thought of running a government has not been really followed. Moreover, the pessimistic view of Hobbes concerning the human nature does not appeal to enlightenment, but Locke's views concerning the same, are reasonable and not only accords with the optimism of the age but justifies it as well. Therefore, the modern world can be concluded to be far more Lockean than Hobbesian.

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