The state of nature in Hobbes and Locke’s philosophy

Hobbes and Locke - Indiana University Northwest

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke: Two Philosophers ..

The Enlightenment philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke eloquently outline this debate. In the case of Hobbes and Locke the answer to that question comes directly from their shared experience in the English Civil War. Since studying these men requires an understanding of their common backgrounds, it becomes necessary to explore in some depth the English Civil War. Therefore the third objective of this unit will be for the students to describe briefly the English Civil War, its causes, its events and its outcome.

Hobbes And Locke

What are the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke? - Quora



Timestamps:

- Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan)
- John Locke (Two Treatises of Government)
- Compare/Contrast with Graphic Organizer

Mr. Richey discusses the works of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, two of the most influential philosophers of government in the seventeenth century. Hobbes and Locke were both influential in the development of social contract theory. In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes advances the idea of a permanent social contract in which people give up sovereignty to a governing authority in order to avoid the state of nature, which is a state of war with "every man against every man." After the Glorious Revolution, John Locke responded with his Two Treatises of Government, in which he argued that people enter into a social contract and form a government in order to preserve their natural rights (life, liberty, and property). In Locke's social contract, the people retain sovereignty and reserve the right to alter or abolish the social contract if the government fails to protect their natural rights. I spend the first part of the lecture providing a summary of Hobbes' Leviathan, followed by a summary of Locke, then I use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast Hobbes' and Locke's social contract philosophies, noting key similarities and differences between the two theorists.

Mastodon's Leviathan album is brought in from time to time just because it's awesome.

This lecture is designed specifically for AP European History students studying Absolutism and Constitutionalism in preparation for their exam, but can also serve students in other disciplines, such as US History and Government, as well.

I use a picture in this video (Green Nature) that should be attributed to Rudolf Getel. I neglected to do so in the video, so I am doing so here.

Hobbes And Locke

The beauty of this comparison lies in the fact that these men took drastically different stances on the role of government and the rights of the people. Hobbes and Locke saw revolution from very different perspectives, and went on to produce philosophies that were almost diametrically opposed to one another. Hobbes suggests a strict government whose only goal is protection of the people from harm. Locke on the other hand suggests that the purpose of government is the protection of liberty. This debate is central in terms of civil rights and civil liberties and seems to be the question that our government deals with on a daily basis.

Hobbes And Locke


The title of the book is taken from Shakespeare’s , and Macduff’s lament for the murder of King Duncan, the consequence of which is that “Confusion now have made his masterpiece!”. For Harrison, Shakespeare’s portrayal of the undermining of moral and political order provides a leitmotif for thinking about seventeenth century political philosophy in general. The greatest works of this century—here meaning those of Hobbes and Locke—emerged out of moral and political confusion. Religious disputes over the nature of belief and religious practice generated murderous civil and international conflict. Philosophical disputes, and especially the revival of ancient skepticism and newer forms of modern skepticism, sowed deep philosophical doubts about the possibility of knowledge, natural or otherwise. Older philosophical frameworks, such as Aristotelianism and Thomism, were found wanting, and philosophers struggled to find new arguments to arbitrate between various warring doctrines, or indeed to transcend them.The difference with Hobbes is clearest in Locke’s argument about property. Hobbes and Locke agree that individuals have a right to property in the state of nature, but Hobbes denies that individuals have any duty to respect the property of others. This makes property more or less useless in Hobbes’s state of nature. Locke says individuals have a duty to respect the property (and lives and liberties) of others even in the state of nature, a duty he traces to natural law. Natural law and natural rights coexist, but natural law is primary, commanding respect for the rights of others.Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were two different political thinkers. Hobbes thought negatively about humans and believed they should agree to make a gov that limited their rights called social contract. Locke had a more positive view and believed in three natural rights: life, liberty, and property.The subtle part of the equation is that the rights advocated are basically similar. Both Hobbes and Locke believe people have a right to self-preservation. They have a right to freedom as well, though for Hobbes that freedom must be partly relinquished to the state in order to be enjoyed in any reasonable way. Without the state, we would have total freedom, but no ability to exercise it without fear of being trampled by other people. For Locke, the state creates freedom by enforcing rights. Where it fails to do so, revolution is appropriate.In recent articles on Hobbes and Locke I pointed out that both thinkers believe in human rights. Despite this similarity, their conceptions of government are very different. Hobbes advocates a monarchy that has absolute power to enforce contracts and maintain morality. His is a state that awes its members into submission; if they defy the state, they could be destroyed. Locke advocates something closer to the liberal state, where freedom is important and state power has checks. Put differently, for Hobbes rights are enforced by the state, while for Locke rights protect us from the state. The difference is both subtle and drastic.Montesquieu published his greatest work, , in 1748. Unlike Hobbes and Locke, Montesquieu believed that in the state of nature individuals were so fearful that they avoided violence and war. The need for food, Montesquieu said, caused the timid humans to associate with others and seek to live in a society. “As soon as man enters into a state of society,” Montesquieu wrote, “he loses the sense of his weakness, equality ceases, and then commences the state of war.”