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Free «Hobbes and Locke Philosophies» Essay Sample

In proportion to Raphael (2004) John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were among the greatest political theorists of their age. The two theorists created great philosophical books that aid in describing the responsibility of the government with regard to the lives of its citizens. Moreover, they also aired their views concerning man's state of nature. Even though Hobbes and Locke have contrasting views on most of their political views, the two are connected by the fact that they are in a position to structure their distinct ideologies. Both theorists look toward the formation of civil order so as to protect the security of an individual as well as that of the state.

In accordance with Hobbes, the state of nature is an extremely dreary and bleak place. Hobbes believes that people in such a state were not directed by reason, but were guided by people's natural primitive, animalistic instincts instead. In addition, he believed that moral notions such as the concepts of evil and good did not exist in nature's state, and that human beings could utilize any force essential so as to protect their lives and good around them.



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Hobbes referred to this state as "war" which implied "every man against every man". At the same time, he describes the state of nature as without any benefits that man in modern society take for granted. "No agriculture, no letters, no commerce, no society, and no account of time" (Raphael, 2004, p. 17). Men in such a state live with a haughty grief and fear, always on the defense so as to protect themselves as well as their belongings. In the same line of thought, Hobbes relates man's desire to break away from war and the state of nature by looking toward peace which enables man to break up his never-ending feeling of fear. With the intention of obtaining peace, Hobbes depends on man using reason, which makes it possible for man to deal with what Hobbes refers to as "The Laws of Nature" (Harrison, 2003, p. 165). Thus, it is through such laws that man can find peace and to enable his natural right to everything, provided that the rest will follow his foot steps. Hobbes refers to this reciprocated transferring of rights between men as "contact".

According to Nosotro (2011), Hobbes had fear that man's thirst for power would be a constant threat to the contract. As a result, Hobbes always preferred the idea of a complete emperor to rule over the people. Eventually, Hobbes draws the conclusion that there ought to be some supreme authority that was formed by men as part of the societal contract that would be endowed with the individual wills and powers of every person, and would be granted the power to punish anyone who went against the rules. This absolute authority labelled "leviathan" was to be very effective since it helped to form a continuous circle that emphasized the social contract. The monarch operated through dread; the punishment threat helped to strengthen the mandates that nature laws provided, thus ensuring the continued functioning of the initial social contract. Apparently, the "Commonwealth" idea was created through the formation of this absolute rule (Nosotro 2011).

On the other hand, John Locker had ideas similar to those of Hobbes such as the state of nature and the social contract. However, the manner in which Locke took position on these ideas sometimes differed from that of Hobbes. In relation to Locke's view regarding the state of nature, Locke states that despite the fact that there were no social societies yet created; men basically were in a position to live peacefully since the natural laws that ruled them were a natural quality in which every person had (Bode, 2008, p. 8). Locke argued that all people were equal in the state of nature, and had exclusive power of the natural laws.

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Hobbes held the opinion that the "war" state was an innate part of the state of nature but Locke differed arguing that the two were very different. In line with Bode (2008), Locke considered that the state of nature entailed men living in concert, applying reason to rule their lives with no need for a common leader, or superior. The state of "war" took place when men made an attempt to force things on their counterparts. Moreover, Locke believed that as a consequent of this, men gained the right to wage war since he held the opinion that force devoid of right was a sufficient starting point for the state of war (p. 9).

In order to change from the state of nature into a social society, Locke argued that people would innately want to surrender their natural freedom with the aim of assuring protection for their "liberties, property, and lives". Furthermore, he believed that the most excellent form of government for a society that is civil would be one run by the majority people with the same views, and any individual joining the society would be submitted to the majority rule. In this state of nature-civil society transition, Locke stated that the two differed because the former lacked "A known, established, and settled law; a known different judge; and power to support and back the sentence" (Bode, 2008, p. 21).

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To complete this changeover into a society that is civilized, men had to give up their natural rights. These rights were inclusive of the right to place punishments against natural law crimes and the rights to do whatever they wished within the natural law bounds. Both rights are relinquished so as to put oneself under a judge's protection and executive working to the safety, public good, and peace of the people (Nosotro, 2011).

In accordance with Ashcraft (1991), Locke and Hobbes also differ in the kind of government that should rule the people. While Hobbes believes and emphasizes that the people should be governed by an absolute government, Locke only suggests governments such as Oligarchy or Democracy but never gives preference to either of them (p. 557). Generally, Hobbes believed that only one person should make the laws while Locke believed in majority rule where the ideas of the majority form the governing law. Besides the legislative body being absolute, it has limits and must govern under fixed laws which give equal rights to all.

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The ideas of Thomas Hobbs and John Locke about common law governments aid to explain, from a philosophical point of view, the evolution of man. Although the amount of power placed by the two on the sovereign power idea forms the basis of their critical difference. Hobbes and Locke also shared other different notions like the state of nature in which men lived in and the concepts of how commonwealth people should give up their rights. Even though most of their principles differed, there was a commonality in their end results: The general good of the people (Ashcraft, 1991, p. 560).

Hobbes philosophy that states that man is brutal and needs the leadership of a central government is more plausible in the modern society. Everyday, newspapers all over the globe report cases of brutal acts such as theft and murder. Such evil crimes are committed by people who are naturally brutal due to their thirst for power, money, and fame (Harrison, 2003, p. 166). Without a central government, it would be almost impossible to have peaceful nations because everyone wants to have their way. If governments were to be based on the majority rule, then the fortunate people in the society will live at the expense of the less fortunate.

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For instance, there have been several cases where the rich people in the political regime have bribed the poor so that they can gain their votes and have their way. One may argue that it is the obligation of the poor to avoid being manipulated and selling out their rights but in most cases such people are in desperate need of basic need. Thus, without a central government it would be quite difficult to ensure equal distribution of a country's resources. Though Hobbes's philosophy is not liberal since he argues that rulers should name their successors, it still remains more apparent in today's' society.


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