I expect an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
compare and contrast the accounts of the state of the nature provided by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. In doing so, be sure to address the following questions: How do the above thinkers describe human nature? What is our condition in the state of nature? What are our relations with other people? Why do we leave the state of nature?
The best papers will not only accurately answer the above questions, but will also directly compare and contrast the thinkers on each of the points.
Hobbes’ View of Human Nature
Human nature is one of the complex theories that has made the minds wonder. The purpose of the existence and who they actually are have been the prime subject of thought for philosophers since the ancient times. The philosophers have provided different interpretations of the human nature, which are different from each other according to the time they live in or the society that they belong to. Understanding of human nature and their relationship to the society and each other have researched over time, considering the facts how they interpret societal changes or different interactions and emotions. However, there are three philosophers who have deeply interpreted the human nature from the study of human interactions and their political reactions (Murphy and Adrian). Each of the philosophers viewed human beings from different angles and explained their impact on the political aspects of the society. These three philosophers who are to be discussed in this assignment are Thomas Hobbes, Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke. The discussion will compare and contrast how each of them described human nature. It will also focus on the aspect of human nature in the political scenarios and the relation between people. Finally a conclusion can be drawn from the discussion which can summarise the different aspects of human nature according to the three philosophers and how it affects the society from different points of view.
Human nature is one of the most complex ideas to understand. According to Hobbes, the human beings have the urge for the desire of power and to sustain their life in a good manner. Moreover, Hobbes believed that human nature was always power hungry and cannot be satisfied with little power. Humans always craved for more power which satisfied them (Hobbes). The gain of power creates more desire, the desire for glory, luxurious life and recognition from others. Hobbes believed that man by nature was solitary, nasty, brutal, and poor and savage who craved for power for a better life and in the process can do anything to achieve that.
However, in this context Rousseau held a different view of human nature. Rousseau believed that human nature was shaped by the nature of the society in which it survived. Before human nature comes in contact with the society and is shaped by it, it possesses two natural feelings or sentiments. The first one is amour de soi which means love for oneself, and the other is pitie which means sympathy or pity (Rousseau). The first sentiment of self-love can be seen as the quality which develops self-respect or honour in a person. However, if exposed to negative atmosphere, the self-love turns into false ideas such as pride. The self-preservation is an aspect of the self-love which focuses on the development of the self without being harmed. The second feeling, which is pity, is the natural sympathy that man has in him as the desire of not harming others. So it can be seen according to Rousseau’s belief human nature is by default pure and has sympathy for others. However, circumstances and the society can bring in negative changes in the human nature.
Rousseau’s View of Human Nature
John Locke however, presents a different idea from the other two philosophers. Locke’s views looks upon human nature as rational and equal that possess the ability to do whatever they want. Human nature is neither good nor bad but has a rational outlook towards the laws of nature. According to Locke, the laws of nature are the universal laws and every human should abide by these laws (Gorman). It depends on the person’s will whether to abide by the law or not. It is not the inner evil or inner goodness which makes the human take a decision, but the rationality present in human nature which makes the person take a decision to do good or evil. Hence, a person is responsible for his own actions and should be accordingly rewarded or punished based on the outcome of his actions in response to the laws of nature. It can be either good or evil.
The discussion of human nature further investigates into the nature of human relationships. Hobbes believed that human beings by nature interacted with each other for self-benefits. He was of the idea that if a certain desire is similar for two persons the relationship between them will turn into enmity and would seek to destroy each other for their personal gains. Hobbes believed that the history of mankind has proved that war and violence is the natural state of mind of a human being. The selfish motives are the main causes of war and violence. This violence is done with the sole purpose of achieving power, glory and fame (Marturano). According to Hobbes the peace that prevails in the society is not a natural law as it is gained through agreement.
Rousseau however, believed that human nature is peaceful and pitiful. The savage nature that has been discussed by Hobbes develops only when they interact with other people who spread a negative influence on the peaceful man. Even in hatred and wars, a human can feel empathy if focuses on the evils of violence and war. The true nature of the human is then reflected when surrounded by all the evils. Rousseau believed that love of one self, the self-respect is the key to love others (Rousseau). Interacting with others and loving them is the true nature of the human self.
Locke had a different idea about how interaction between people can reflect the human nature. Locke was of the idea that human nature being rational interacts with people with the notion of proving their own ideas right. These interactions can give birth to a system in the society which develops into an idea to rationality, social justice, right to live and morality (Locke). The reactions to the universal laws of nature are influenced by the interactions with people. Human beings themselves decide what is good for them and what is evil (Hodas). This rational interaction is the part of Locke’s thought process. The universal laws cannot setup the society without the humans and so the responsibility of creating the society falls on the human nature whose interaction and development shapes the society as desired.
Locke’s View of Human Nature
Rousseau’s famous statement that man is born free but is bound by chains, denotes his depiction of the state of nature in which human beings survive. Rousseau believed that the society was in jeopardy which forced the men to turn away from sympathy and love towards hatred and evil. He believed that the society needed a social contract which can be formulated with the values that were already instilled in the human nature. These ideas were particularly influential for the French Revolution which took place to throw away the weak monarchy and establish a society which will value every person equally (Huet). It inspired the movement of freedom that according to Rousseau is the natural attribute of a human being.
Hobbes however, viewed man as savage and proposed the idea of a government which would have the power to unite men and control them to maintain peace in the society. The government would be responsible for creating an artificial harmony among the people who would otherwise go to war and disturb the peace (Eriksen). Contrary to Rousseau’s ideas of a liberal and equal society, Hobbes government proposes the idea of a ruler, whose strong will would bind the citizens and make them obey the rules of the society for maintaining peace and security.
Locke describes society as the unification of the rational people. They can address the distresses of the society and judge the punishment of the people who do not abide by the laws of nature (Locke). Locke believed that every human was a part of the state of the nature and they form a political society for governance by making a uniform agreement between themselves. No person can have control over another and it is the natural laws that the human beings have to submit to in order to form a peaceful and ideal society.
The above discussion highlights different points on the state of human nature and how they interact with each other. Moreover, it also decides which kind of society is suitable for the sustenance of the human beings. Hobbes believed that human by nature is savage and is always in a state of war for self-benefits. Rousseau on the other hand believed that man is pure by nature and has the positive qualities of love and sympathy which gets destroyed by the evil society in the future. Locke has a completely different theory in which he believed that human nature is rational and must follow the rule of nature to survive. Hobbes proposes a government of a ruler who would dominate the subjects to follow the rules of the society. Rousseau believed in a more liberal form of government where equality would prevail and Locke believed in a system where human beings would govern themselves by abiding to the laws of nature. It can be concluded that the three philosophers viewed life from three different angles and has seen society from different angles which provide a varied insight into the state of nature and the nature of the human beings.
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