Thomas Hobbes and John Locke have each compiled an elaborate explanation of society, as they believe it ought to be. Hobbes in \'Leviathan\' and Locke in \'Second Treatise of Government\', have recorded their differing interpretations of the state of nature, the logic behind sacrificing personal rights to join a social contract, and the government that would monitor the exchange based upon the agreed terms by the commonwealth.
An opinion with which Locke would disagree and Hobbes, to generalize, classifies the state of nature as equivalent to a persistent state of war. This outlook is largely related to his consideration of mankind as inherently malevolent, motivated primarily by self-interest; the law of nature asserting that people do not commit any action not for the purpose of self-preservation that dominates all other desires. Thus, a war of all versus all results from the “three [selfish] principal causes of quarrel: \"competition, diffidence, and glory,” (Hobbes 76).
Before further elaboration upon Hobbes' consideration of the state of nature as a state of constant war, a more extensive explanation of his view of the state of nature is necessary. With his focus on moral philosophy, his theories are largely related to the idea of right and wrong and an agreed upon definition of these notions upon which a society may thrive. Firstly, Hobbes considers the state of nature as lacking any concept of right or wrong, having no pre-political rights—a perspective other philosophers, including Locke, would disagree with. With no enforced distinction between what is moral and immoral, Hobbes would allege that everything is permissible in the state of nature and so an individual is always at risk of losing their rights at the hands of others.
Alternatively, other thinkers often claim that no one is interested in witnessing or causing the suffering of others. Hobbes' disagreement extends from his belief that all men are equal and therefore have a right to everything in the state of nature, which he attributes to the “war” caused by competition.
[...] Thirdly, competition and diffidence are a result of the innate desire for recognition as part of a particular status. Desire for glory is the last of the causes of human clash and, therefore, war. To recap, Hobbes equivocates the state of nature as a of every man against every with no law of clarification between right and wrong there is no such thing as injustice (Hobbes 78). This situation is comprised of reciprocal fear among the people and lacking of an utmost aim or greatest good. [...]
[...] Hobbes' disagreement extends from his belief that all men are equal and therefore have a right to everything in the state of nature, which he attributes to the caused by competition. As this is a state in which all values are lost and there is no guilt for acquisition by any means that meets one's own desires, any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies [and] endeavor to destroy or subdue on another” (Hobbes 75). [...]
[...] Unlike Hobbes, who supposes that the state of nature itself is a constant state of war, Locke suggests the state of war occurs when one person threatens the property of another while no common superior on earth [is present to] appeal to for relief” (Locke 15). Critical to his assertions is the fact that Locke considers reason to be the defining characteristic of human beings—reason being his primary law of nature. Aside from reason, a measure given by God, as a quality with which people are born, Locke considers everyone to be essentially altruistic and in possession of the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property. [...]
[...] It is this monarch, conceptualized by Hobbes, that is responsible for defining right and wrong through the construction of civil laws. Locke finds the purpose of a social contract as a solution to the impartiality of man and so government is necessary to act as judge. Hobbes and Locke agree upon little in the creation of government other than the fact that it is a necessary structure. Both Hobbes and Locke have developed in-depth interpretations of mankind and the necessities in regard to government for its wellbeing. [...]
APA Style referenceFor your bibliography
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee