A Comparison of John Locke’s and Thomas Hobbes’ view on Human Nature and how that relates to our daily life

Posted: February 15, 2017


John Locke was an English philosopher and the most influential of the enlightenment and creative thinkers. He is one of the renowned founders of the liberal political philosophy, the philosophy of individual rights and human nature. On the other hand, Thomas Hobbes was a classicist who believed that science had the greatest influence in determining the advances in human knowledge. The royalist Hobbes devoted himself to the development and manifestation of a comprehensive philosophical dream of the behaviour of human nature. As a result, both Locke and Hobbes were both natural law and social contract theorists with different opinions. Locke was for the idea that man was by nature a social animal whereas Hobbes was famous for producing numerous deductions from Physics and mathematics.

Hobbes’s first statement of philosophical relation was the elements of law and later was identified with the Leviathan that contained the materialistic account of human nature and knowledge. He talks of the pessimistic vision of the natural state of humanity in the perpetual struggle against one another. However, with the authority of an absolute sovereign, individuals escape the grim of fate by surrendering to their superiors in the form of the commonwealth (Loptson 72). In such a case, Hobbes strongly believe that individual obedience to any form of authority is important so as to reduce the greater evil in a state of an endless war.

Likewise, Hobbes believed that human beings naturally desire to live well by use of power. Despite the power that they have been restored on them, they are never satisfied and would struggle to acquire more power. Human beings are ungrateful individuals and their needs are never satisfied. They always have a new desire for fame and glory, which is meant to ease their sensual pleasure and also meant to raise their self-esteem. Moreover, human beings have an admiration for others and envy those that are glorified more than themselves.        On the contrary, he believes that all human beings irrespective of their nature were created equally and should treat each other with due respect. He saw that any human being was capable of killing the other despite being weaker than the other human being. Several aspects may act as a bridge to killing the stronger opponent such as his high intellect or one may be assisted by another individual aspect.

As a result, Hobbes believed that the nature of humanity led him to seek power and also drove man to have the greed of power. The great desire for power led to competition and enmity especially in a situation when two or more people are competing for power. The two people might even end up in a war and hence destroy each other. He is known to have come up with the term war that referred to the time when two people oppose each other. The three main reasons behind war was competition, distrust and the urge for glory. These three cases led to man using violence to invade into another man’s territories in the aim of taking over power and for their personal glory.

Henceforth, the lack of a common power to unite the people would lead to a war of every man against every man. Therefore, Hobbes strongly believed that the state of war was the natural state of human beings and harmony among human beings was artificial as it is based on an agreement (Fry 99). Hobbes argues that the human action is pushed by particular desires and the greed of the human body. As a result, man enters into disagreements with one another and pains that it is hard to overcome. This only leads to the deduction of other negative ways to relieve our discomforts.

On the other hand, Lockes was in agreement with most of the natural law theorists who saw man as a social animal by nature.  Men were viewed to be loyal and they were honest and true to their words. They honoured their obligations and kept their promises. Despite the uncertainties that might befall them, such actions were seen to bring peace and a cordial relationship among human beings. Locke quoted the American frontier and Soldania to be perfect examples of people in their natural state of humanity where they coexisted with power and had peace with their property rights. They were in a peaceful state of nature with regard to one another. The Princes, Rome and Venice were in a state of nature shortly before they were officially founded.

He believed in honesty with their own values and wrong doings against one another were punished. It was exercised in the American Frontier with most people being in their natural state of mind. With the high insecurities faced by these people, violent conflicts were witnessed one in a while due to the natural nature. However, they were ended by the forcible imposition of a just and peaceful negotiation on evil doers where peace was seen to be normal (Parker 130). Likewise, Lockes argued that humans knew what was right or wrong and they were expected to act and behave within the law. Regrettably, they do not always act in accordance with this sober knowledge on the law.

The philosophical views of John Lockes and Thomas Hobbes are perfectly a replication of today’s lifestyle. As a matter of fact, Hobbes view on human nature is a true reflection on the kind of leaders that exist in our societies. They are so mad for power to the extent of killing one another. From the levels of insecurity in most countries in the world, one can simply conclude that Hobbes view on human nature that they were created to fight against one another. War has become part and parcel of today’s world with several terrorist groups emerging and thousands of people being killed on a daily basis in the current world. Leaders have also been seen to remain in power despite the end of their tenure in power.

Similarly, Lockes idea that man is a social animal also applies in our present day lives. It perfectly relates to the idea of liberalism by human beings where man is seen to be empathise with fellow human beings. They are controlled by emotions and the feeling to be honest towards one another. Specific desires may be seen among human beings and the animal nature in us has sparked the sense of everyone acting in his own selfish interests without the regard for others. However, according to Lockes, peace is normal and as human beings we ought to live in peace with one another as it is the epitome of the human nature. 

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