Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau have become known as three of the most prominent political theorists in the world today. Their philosophies and innovative thinking is known worldwide and it has influenced the creation of numerous new governments. All three thinkers agree on the idea of a social contract but their opinions differ on how the social contract is established and implemented within each society. These philosophers state, that in order for the social contract to be successful people need to give up certain freedoms in order to secure fundamental protections from the state, henceforth the state then has certain responsibilities to their citizens. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all believe that before men were governed we all lived in a state of nature. This state of nature was the conditions in which we lived before there were any political governments to rule over us and it described what societies would be like if we had no government at all. In this essay I will compare the opinions given by each philosopher regarding their understanding of the state and the law. I will also discuss how their theories have influenced our understanding of the law today. Thomas Hobbes – Regarding the State and Law Firstly I would like to begin my discussion with Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes was an English philosopher, known through out the world as the author of “Leviathan” which is regarded as one of the earliest examples of the social contract theory. His writings were greatly influenced by the
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Hobbes vs Locke When a unlawful crime happens we are shocked and paralyzed by fear and despair. Well ,with these crimes comes governmental responsibility this is why. Without a strictly ruled government violence, no productivity, and consequently no knowledge of the Earth would result. To begin, with “Without a common power to keep them in awe, it will result in a state of war” as Thomas Hobbes states. Strict power is important, absences of this allows us to forget that we are all equal and no one is higher than the other.
“In 1651, Hobbes wrote one of the most influential philosophical treatises in human history, Leviathan or the Matter Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil. Like his rival, John Locke, Hobbes posited that in a state of nature men and women were free to pursue and defend their own interests, which resulted in a state of war in which “the life of man” was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. ”(“Philosopher who influenced the Founding Fathers and the First Principles,”
Hobbes argued that once an individual is a part of an absolute monarchy, they no longer have the rights to branch away from the government. He created the idea that people who are a part of this absolutist society cannot fight against the authority because it provides protection for the people. Locke had another viewpoint which regarded the protection of the people, but he saw it in a civil society. Locke explained that the social contract was the result of men who had the equal rights as a natural concept of life. He preached that all men have rights and freedom to express their opinions and protection of their property.
Do you believe all humans have the best intentions for others? Many people believe that we come into this world with only good inside of us, while others believe we all arrive good but our mindset is turned evil and self-obsessed throughout time as we grow older. In the 17th century there were many arguments on whether citizens should govern themselves or have a ruler to keep the citizens in control. Everyone has a clean slate at the start but the choices one makes can mold you into who you become later on. In the 17th century there were two philosophers, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, who both thought differently about human nature and the way some people are when it comes to money and power.
Hobbes developed the ‘social contract theory’, which is the idea that civilians give up some of their freedom and liberty for protection from the leader. This concept, which was used during Hobbes’s time, is still a part of the government today. Hobbes brings down this concept in his world famous book, Leviathan. A picture of a ‘giant’ monarch holding onto a tiny world is used to describe his version of the social contract. The drawing depicts the trade of freedom for safety.
When comparing the two different accounts of English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke we must take into consideration a number of things such as the age in which they lived and the time in which they produced their philosophical writings. We will however find out that these two philosophers actually have a couple of things in which agree on even though most of their opinions clash. On one side we have Thomas Hobbes who lived in the time of the English Civil War (1642-1651) who provides a negative framework for his philosophical opinions in his masterpiece Leviathan and who advocates for philosophical absolutism . On the other side we have John Locke, living during the glorious revolution (1688-1689) he presents a positive attitude in his book The Second Treatise of Government and advocates for philosophical and biblical constitutionalism. It is important that we know that the state of nature describes a pre- political society prior to the social contract.
During the Enlightenment period, many thinkers shared their ideas about society, Thinkers like John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote books to spread their ideas against the Old Order. First, John Locke believed everyone had natural rights. These natural rights were life,liberty,and property. The main purpose of the government would be to protect these rights. Locke influenced important people such as Thomas Jefferson when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
The social contract theory comes to effect when individuals are keen on leaving the state of nature, which entails a time of chaos and lawlessness. Hobbes views this state of nature as states of war where there are individuals constantly seeking to destroy each other in the constant quest for power. Whilst Hobbes believes that life in this state of nature is “nasty, brutish, and short,” Locke holds a more optimistic view of the state of nature. In Locke’s view of the state of nature, all men are free “to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of
Thomas Hobbes proposed that the ideal government should be an absolute monarchy as a direct result of experiencing the English Civil War, in which there was internal conflict between the parliamentarians and the royalists. Hobbes made this claim under the assumption that an absolute monarchy would produce consistent policies, reduce conflicts and lower the risk of civil wars due to the singular nature of this ruling system. On another hand, John Locke counters this proposal with the view that absolute monarchies are not legitimate as they are inconsistent with the state of nature. These two diametrically opposed views stem from Hobbes’ and Locke’s different understandings of human nature, namely with regard to power relationships, punishment, and equality in the state of nature. Hobbes’ belief that human beings are selfish and appetitive is antithetical with Locke’s contention that human beings are intrinsically moral even in the state of nature, which results in Locke’s strong disagreement with Hobbes’ proposed absolute monarchy.
Summary Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) theory of social contract, which states that we need moral, legal rules because we want to escape the state of nature which is solitary, poor, brutal, nasty, and short. In this state, a man can kill others, and there are limited resources. This can soon lead to a state of war in which we are constantly disposed to harm others to achieve our goals. So, in this state of war if a person was to possess a beautiful house or property, and had all the comforts, luxuries, and amenities to lead a wonderful life; others could come and harm him and deprive him of his fruit of labor, life, and liberty. Therefore, the state of nature is that of fear, violence, and distrust.
Thus, both men would evaluate the statement that “in a legitimate state all men are free and there is no inequality,” differently. Rousseau would mostly disagree, holding that the state itself is the impetus for inequality. Hobbes would largely agree, contending that men are equal both in a primitive state of conflict and under a sovereign’s awesome power. These different responses result from the philosophers’ opposing views on fundamental human nature, civil society’s raison d’etre, and government’s inevitable form. --- Rousseau begins his
Hobbes made great advancements in political philosophy and made contributions to the development of the Anti-Aristotelian concept of science. Hobbes’ political philosophy influenced John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kent. Thomas Hobbes is considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes also contributed to advances in history, geometry, the physics of gases, theology, and ethics. Hobbes developed key ideas we still use today including the fundamentals of European liberal thought, the right of the individual, the natural equality of all men, the arterial character of the political order, the view that all legitimate political powers must be “representative” and based on the consent of the people, and the liberal interpretation of the law.
Known mostly for his political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes was born in April of 1588, in England. After graduating from Oxford College in 1608, Hobbes began working for the royal Cavendish family as a tutor for William Cavendish. “Gaining access to books, and connections to philosophers and scientists”, Hobbes’s work with the Cavendish family proved to be influential in his intellectual development (Thomas Hobbes). In 1640, a time of civil unrest in England, Hobbes published Elements of Law, an introduction to his political philosophy. Due to his belief in absolute sovereignty and his connection with the Cavendish family, Hobbes left England for Paris in fear of punishment.
The secondary literature on Hobbes's moral and political philosophy (not to speak of his entire body of work) is vast, appearing across many disciplines and in many languages. There are two major aspects to Hobbes's picture of human nature. As we have seen, and will explore below, what motivates human beings to act is extremely important to Hobbes. The other aspect concerns human powers of judgment and reasoning, about which Hobbes tends to be extremely skeptical. Like many philosophers before him, Hobbes wants to present a more solid and certain account of human morality than is contained in everyday beliefs.