Locke vs Hobbes

The concept of human security, which has had a crucial place in human’s societal history, has been argued over by many great philosophers throughout mankind’s existence. Two pioneer thinkers of political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, theorized state of nature typologies, which are the core of social contract theory, and created a concept of modern security, even in the 17th century. Hobbes created a contract entrusting absolute power to the sovereign, which thrived off of the individual’s duty and responsibilities to the government.

Contrary to Hobbes, Locke recognized the secure relationship between individuals’ rights and liberties and the role of the sovereign. These two philosophers revolutionized liberal thinking in the height of the enlightenment age in which many philosophers questioned and argued over the relationship between the state and the individual. Hobbes and Locke, two brilliant thinkers, are notorious for being the founders of social contract liberalism. Before one can look at each philosopher’s social contract, we must first define what separated their thinking from the standard at that time, and what actually made them liberal thinkers.

There had been one way of thinking in governmental rule for thousands of years which had been formed around the tyrannical ideals of hereditary privilege, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. These governmental ideals, which extremely lacked rights for the individual, had been spread all over the world for thousands of years and throughout many empires. What made Locke and Hobbes such liberal thinkers, was their ideas of a mutual relationship between the individual and the state.

This was a mutual contract in which both parties had an agreement where they could coincide, benefit, and enforce the liberal ideals of liberty, equality, and justice. Now one must dive into both philosophers proposed social contract, to get a better grasp on the aspects of the contract where both men agree, and where both men have conflicting ideals. The place to begin in both contracts, would be at mans most simple form, when he is untainted by the aspects of society, and is simply, in the state of nature.

John Locke describes the state of nature as the most basic fundamentalcondition in which a human persons lack an authoritative, common, or human superior. Locke feels that man can successfully exist without the structure of a society, and that, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent” (Locke Second Treatise of Government pg 191).

This natural law is formed through God, who created all men naturally equal. Reason is the driving force of cooperation of man in the state of nature, Locke argues that this driving force of reason makes men realize, “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker” (Locke Second Treatise of Government pg 192) The reason makes men understand that working together and cooperating will ultimately benefit themselves and the natural state they inhabit.

Locke then makes it clear that even though men inhabit a state of nature, and they are not limited by any obligatory laws of society, each individual in the state of nature has the power to execute the natural laws. Man still cannot “invade others right” and anyone who does so, man has the right to “Punish the transgressors of that law” (Locke Second Treatise of Government pg 192). Locke then proves this by using the example of a foreign “alien” committing a crime in a country not of his origin, but still being held accountable and punished for it.

Locke believes that the state of nature and the state of war are two separate entities as well, and one is only in a state of war if his property or safety is threatened by another party. This is seen as an act of self defense and the men who are being attacked have the natural right to protect themselves. Differing from society, in the state of nature, war does not end until the hostile party offers peace and payback for the destruction they have caused.

Locke also addresses the issue of property in the state of nature, following the recurring theme of religion, Locke states that no land can be individual property because God created the world for all of man to use. The way individual property can come about is when man uses his body (which is his own property by natural right) to exert labor on something of the land, only then does that become his own individual property. Locke applies these rules to land and says that a person in a state of nature can claim land by adding labor to it but only so much as that person can reasonably use without

waste,” But if they perished in their possession without their due use, they can be punished”( Locke Second Treatise of Government pg 219) John Locke’s state of nature, entrusts man as a social animal to naturally and successfully live in peace and harmony amongst each other, Thomas Hobbes’s state of nature, clearly does not. Hobbes’s has no faith in man whatsoever to live peacefully amongst each other in the state of nature. In Hobbes’s state of nature, it is the opposite of peace; he states that the natural state is, “Warre of every man against every man” (Hobbes Leviathan chpt 13).

Hobbes stresses the fear and brutality of the chaotic and uncultured state of nature in which man has “no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. ”(Hobbes Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 13 (1651) Hobbes recognized that this description of human nature emphasizes our uncultured animal nature, leaving man to live and act independently of each other, and acting selfishly only in his own self-interest, with blatant disregard for others.

Self preservation is the only right that can exist independent of Hobbes’s government. This produces what he called the “state of war,” a way of life that is certain to prove “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. ” (Hobbes Leviathan I 13) Locke states that “In the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition: secondly, diffidence: thirdly, glory. The first, maketh men invade for gain: the second, for safety: and the third, for reputation” (Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, I 13.).

In a state of nature man simply cannot know what is theirs and what someone else’s property is because there is no distinction. Within the state of nature there is no private property because there is no law to establish it, the only order is caused by natural laws that are discovered by reason. Hobbes does agree with Locke that reason is the driving force in the state of nature and that, “that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it” (Hobbes Leviathan, Ch.XIV).

According to Hobbes, property exists solely by the will of the state, that being said in a state of nature men are forced into an endless struggle for property. Although Hobbes does not fault man for these problems, he just believes that, “Where there is no common Power, there is no Law; where no Law, no injustice. “(Hobbes, Leviathan XIII 13). Hobbes completely disagrees with Locke that man naturally understands the difference between good and evil. Unlike Locke, Hobbes believes that in a state of nature, the state of war is always present because of mans natural distrust of one another.

To solve the problem of the chaotic state of nature man is naturally thrown in, Hobbes creates a social contract based upon mutual agreements, in which man can agree to and enter a much more sophisticated and efficient society. Both Hobbes and Locke both agreed that men would eventually willingly come together to form a government. Locke figures that man eventually will be inconvenienced by the state of nature as their social and economic life develops, and they will leave it by forming government.

Contrary to Locke, Hobbes states that society could not exist except by the power of the state and since man was evil by nature that he would require a strong mutual authority to save him from the anarchical state of nature he was originally born in. Even Locke agreed with Hobbes on the fact that human nature allowed men to be selfish, Individuals fear of one another forces mankind to come together and form a sophisticated state. This state allows man to be provided with a mutual and central authority to protect the lives, liberty, and property of those who within this civil sovereignty.

Hobbes believes in the second fundamental law of nature which says that, “Man should lay down this absolute right of nature and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself. ” (Hobbes Leviathan, Ch. XIV) The laws of nature are the main ideas which Hobbes basis his social contract. Man must transfer the power to a mutually agreed common authority in a contract, where both parties agree in a covenant not to harm each other.

This contract is beneficial to both parties because it is a guarantee that they will each be safe, but this guarantee can only be fulfilled if there is a common authority enforcing the covenant, and stopping any cheating from going on. The third state of nature proceeds the second one saying, “”That men perform their Covenant made; without which, covenants are in vain, and but Empty words; and the Right of all men to all things remaining, wee are still in the condition of Warre. “(Hobbes Leviathan Chpt 15 pg 89).