Compare And Contrast Thomas Hobbes And Jacques Rousseau

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Thomas Hobbes and Jacques Rousseau on the state of nature
The world is always filled with rigid dichotomies: good and evil, left and right, McDonald’s and Burger King -- just to mention some of them. The political theory in the 17th century seemed to have experienced a similar trend. The nature of government, more specifically the state of men, were often questioned, like the debate between Democrats and Republicans today. In 17th century Europe, the two major viewpoints on the issue were best exemplified by the writings of Thomas Hobbes, and Jacques Rousseau.
The nature state of men has been one of the biggest themes in political philosophy for centuries. This mainly is because the debate over the state of nature affirms the underlying reasons
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For Hobbes, social contract is an inevitable process because men need a central power for self-preservation (Hobbes 39). He cannot protect himself from outside dangers; therefore, he needs sovereign power for survival. Nevertheless, for Rousseau, social contract is needed, but it unavoidably creates inequality as well as peace and order. If men were more just and fair in his actions, social contract would be more beneficial to his life. In his natural state, men was more caring and cooperative, but with social contract, he is more individualistic and greedy (Bondanella 16). That is why, Rousseau does not believe in the good side of social contract. As Rousseau states, “I must make everyone see that since the bonds of servitude are formed merely from the mutual dependence of men and from the reciprocal needs that unite them, it is impossible to enslave men without first having put him in the position of being unable to do without another person” (Bondanella 32). As this statement implies, social contract enslaves men to unequal chances and opportunities according to Rousseau, but for Hobbes, it is the best form of self-protection. Otherwise, men cannot survive and become
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