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This Essay Compares And Contrasts The Political Philosophy Of Hobbes And Locke

5669 words - 23 pages

In this paper, I will examine the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. I will investigate both men's ideas individually and offer my own views on their theories. I will conclude the paper by comparing and contrasting the notions introduced in their respective writings.Thomas Hobbes was born in Wiltshire, England in 1588. He lived in one of the most unsettled periods in English history. Following a rebellion against King Charles, there resulted a civil war, which began in 1642. As a consequence of this political instability, Hobbes was forced into exile in November of 1640. He remained abroad living on the continent for approximately eleven years. During this period he ...view middle of the document...

It is concerned with matter in motion. He argued that all human life and all human thought are to be understood quite simply as matter in motion. In this regard Galileo heavily influenced his thinking. Hobbes identified two distinguishable types of motion. These he defined as vital motion and voluntary motion. I will not indulged heavily into these notions, except to say, that Hobbes believed that the ultimate goal in all human motion is toward self-preservation. Basically what he is saying is that all motion is a result of fear of death. Although reason plays a significant role according to Hobbes, it is largely a regulatory instrument to these basic motions (1).Hobbes philosophical ideas are largely portrayed in his text, "Leviathan." In this piece, he discloses the fact that he feels the evils of absolute power is still better than living in a society without that ultimate overseer. Perhaps as a result of the turbulent time in which he lived, Hobbes had an almost chronic fear of living within a chaotic society. It was his belief that a society without an absolute leader would be, or eventually become a chaotic one. Hobbes gives us a psychological explanation for why he believes this to be so. In his opinion, all people are by nature selfish and egoistic. As all men are selfish, and wish only to satisfy their own needs, competition for resources inevitably occurs. Resources are not infinite in amount, but are limited in their availability. As a result, Hobbes argues that conflict between men over these resources is unavoidable. Hobbes refers to people living in this 'state of nature' as 'natural man (Hobbes, Pt 1, Ch 11).'In his brief introduction to the Leviathan, Hobbes describes the State as an organism analogous to a large person. He shows how each part of the state parallels the function of the parts of the human body. He notes that the first part of his project is to describe human nature, in so far as humans are the creators of the state. To this end, he advises that we look into ourselves to see the nature of humanity in general. Hobbes argues that, in the absence of social condition, every action we perform, no matter how charitable or benevolent, is done for reasons, which are ultimately self-serving. For example, when I donate to charity, I am actually taking delight in demonstrating my powers, in its most extreme form; this view of human nature has since been termed 'Psychological Egoism.' Hobbes believes that any account of human action, including morality, must be consistent with the fact that we are all self-serving.Hobbes speculates how selfish people would behave in a state of nature, prior to the formation of any government. He begins noting that humans are essentially equal, both mentally and physically, in so far as even the weakest person has the strength to kill the strongest. Given our equal standing, Hobbes continues by noting how situations in nature make us naturally prone to quarrel. There are three natural causes of...

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