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Hobbes And Locke Essay

2095 words - 9 pages

(A) Comparing and contrasting the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are comparable in their basic political ideologies about man and their rights in the state of nature before they enter a civil society. Their political ideas are very much similar in that regard. The resemblance between Hobbes and Locke’s philosophies are based on a few characteristics of the state of nature and the state of man. Firstly, in the state of nature both Hobbes and Locke agree that all men are created equal, but their definitions of equality in the state of nature slightly differ. According to Locke, “…in the state of nature… no one has power over another…” Locke’s version or idea of equality in the state of nature is based around the equality of authority and control. Each man has the authority to judge and punish themselves, but they do not have “…license to abuse others…” On the other hand, Hobbes’ definition of equality is based around the equality of man physically and mentally because “Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of the body and mind…” Nevertheless, the natural equality in both Hobbes and Locke’s states of nature contribute to man’s urge and want to join a civil society.

In the state of nature, equality creates a state of war amongst men. Hobbes’ believes that the cause of the state of war is the nature of man, perfect equality and self-preservation. The idea self-preservation in Hobbes’ state of nature consents to man to harming one another in the name of survival, because it is also in man’s nature. The definition of self-preservation and survival is different for each individual. No man in the state of nature has the authority to judge or question any individual’s actions about self-preservation. The act of self-preservation is not the only reason for the perpetual state of war in the state of nature, according to Hobbes man has a nature to disagree. This “intellectual dissention” in the state of nature, to Hobbes, Man is prideful and sometimes vainglorious by nature, making disagreements or dissention amongst men more powerful in striking at one’s ego causes a stronger urge to hurt another. These dissentions create “… that kind of strife inevitably causes the worst of conflicts” , adding to the perpetual state of war.

According to Locke, the state of war occurs because of destruction and enmity, which results from the perfect freedom and liberty found in the state of nature. This idea is similar to Hobbes’ reasons for the state of war, yet, Locke believes that it also occurs because of the “presence of a common authority that fails to act justly, the only possible state is a state of war, because the arbitrating power in place to stop war is itself in violation of the laws of nature and justice.” However, Locke’s law of nature that governs this state goes against Hobbes’ idea of self-preservation, because it does not allow for man to harm another’s life, liberty, health or...

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