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Comparison Of Leviathan, By Thomas Hobbes, And The Discourse On The Origin And Foundations Of Inequality Among Mankind, By Jean Jacques Rousseau.

1289 words - 5 pages

Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes are two of the most "influential political theorists in the world"(Arbury). Their ideas and philosophies have spread all over the world influencing the creation of many new governments (Arbury). Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers with similar, yet contrasting, theories about human nature; both men developed theories on human nature and how men govern themselves. Hobbes theory is based upon the assumption that "human nature is naturally competitive and violent; while Rousseau's theory about the state of 'natural man' is one living in harmony with nature and in a better situation than that he was seeing throughout his life in Europe"(Arbury). In some cases, Hobbes has been criticized because of his "overly cynical view of human nature, whereas Rousseau has been criticized because of his naïve view of human nature" (Palaver). The concept of 'state of nature' merely means the "state of man as it would be if there were no political organization or government"(People and Idea Systems). This concept has been used by many philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a "criterion of what man's natural condition might be and how this condition has been corrupted by civilization"(Palaver). Through this paper I will compare and contrast the human nature and individualism mentioned in Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, and the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Mankind, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes presents the reader with an overall pessimistic view of human nature, void of human emotions and based on reason. Hobbes begins his critique of human nature by creating what he refers to as 'state of nature'. Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau agree that the state of nature is what would exist without a government present. In this state of nature, Hobbes believes that people are naturally savage and out for themselves, "for the laws of nature (justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and the golden rule) of themselves without the terror of some power to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions, which carry us to partiality, pride, revenge, and the like"(qtd. in Cruz). Hobbes states that this state of human condition "...is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"(Hobbes, 377). Through his state of nature, Hobbes wants to show what men are characteristically like- what our human nature is like without conventional government to protect us. He is attempting to show us that we need a strong central power. However, Hobbes did believe in he existence of 'laws of nature' in the state of nature, one of which being the biblical golden rule. He also had a theory of 'right of nature, which was basically "the liberty each of us has to live our own individual lives, and to preserve our lives by the most appropriate...

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