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Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke/pro John Locke - Essay Example

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Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke/pro John Locke

Indeed, the differences between the two are such that Locke ultimately emerges as a theorist for democracy and Hobbes as an advocate of authoritarian and autocratic governments.
Hobbes' Leviathan may be described as a political philosophic treatise whose primary purpose is the legitimisation of the constraints which governments impose on human behaviour and their curtailment of human liberties and freedoms. In presenting his justification for the stated, Hobbes proceeds from a description of the state of nature, or pre-government societies and post government societies, effectively illustrating that within the context of the former, men may have enjoyed completed and unfettered freedom but they lived in a constant state of insecurity. In other words, and as MacPherson points out, men were completely free to do and act as they chose but because there were no limitations on freedom, they lived under the constant threat of the harm that may befall them or their property consequent to the actions of others.1 Consequently, the price of freedom was excessively high.
In arguing that the price of freedom was excessively high, Hobbes embarks upon description of the state of nature. As earlier mentioned, the state of nature refers to the pre-centralised government societies. ...
egitimate government and the consequent unfettered nature of freedom, human beings were allowed to give in to, and act in accordance with their innately competitive nature. As explained by MacPherson, human nature, as defined by Hobbes was not only competitive but was excessively materialistic and power-hungry. The implication here is that men covet both power and material wealth and are driven by an innate desire to accumulate both. This desire or innate compulsion motivates transgression on the life and property of others and determines that leadership and the exercise of authority over a community be extremely temporal, lasing only as long as it takes for the leader to be usurped by another more powerful.2 In other words, the state of nature, as described, is one which fails to guarantee or establish any degree of security or legitimate and stable leadership over a community.
As may be deduced from the above, Hobbes predicates his political theory on the assumption that human nature is innately competitive and accumulative, whether as regards accumulation of power or material wealth. Leshen confirms the stated by highlighting the numerous passages in Leviathan which refer to man's tendency towards impulsive action and opposed to rational thought.3 Hobbes, in other words, operates under the assumption that men are instinctual and impulsive by nature, rather than rational and deliberate and, accordingly, fail to respect the natural protective boundaries which supposedly surround the life, property and rights of others.
There is no doubt that one can interpret the above as a condemnation of human nature and, indeed, many have done precisely that and, accordingly, have criticised Hobbes as having a particularly negative and pessimistic view of man. Skinner, a ...Show more

Summary

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke stand out as two of the most prominent and influential of the political philosophers. Both are classified as social contract theorists but Hobbes, whose work predates Locke's by approximately one century, was the polar opposite of the latter…
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Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke/pro John Locke essay example
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