Thomas Hobbes And John Locke Essay Research

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Thomas Hobbes And John Locke Essay, Research Paper Ever since the two men themselves walked the Earth, there has been considerably debate as to whether the political thought of Thomas Hobbes or John Locke was closer to the truth. Hobbes, characterized as the “Apologist for Absolutism” in The Western Heritage, believed that the natural state of man was one of continuous competition and would generally be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Therefore, he believed in a strong absolute monarch to keep the people under control. Locke, called the “Defender of Moderate Liberty” by the textbook, generally believed that in a natural state, man would be just as concerned with the rights of others as with their own. Therefore, government was to make sure that

everyone’s rights were protected. In my opinion, neither of these men are completely correct with their thought. However, if I was to live in a society governed by the thought of one of these two men, I would choose to live in one designed by Locke. Hobbes’ rather pessimistic view of human nature renders his political thought doubtful. In his view, man exists only for bodily pleasure and other such selfish pleasures. Although there is some truth to that, his call for absolutism on those grounds is doubtful at best. In addition, Hobbes places all the responsibility for preventing man from misbehaving in the hands of the absolute monarch. How can he be so sure that this ruler will not be dominated by his own hopelessly selfish will? If his thought is correct, the ruler will use

this power over the people for his own exclusive gain. To make the situation worse, in Hobbes’ system the people are unable to have any say in their ruling. Unless the commoners were nasty and brutish in their nature and the monarchs noble and generous, his system would not work. Lastly, history has shown that absolutism leads to widespread resistance. In France during the late eighteenth century, for example, the faltering of the monarchy led to the famous revolution that forever cast doubt on absolutism. Living in a system designed by Hobbes would make the common man’s life much worse. Although Locke’s thought is not flawless, his society would produce much more favorable living conditions. The true nature of man is somewhere between the beliefs of Locke and Hobbes, with

a tendency to be closer to Locke’s model. Man is neither as sinister as Hobbes’ view, yet is not as virtuous as Locke believes. However, this works well with Locke’s model for government, which was to preserve the rights of the people. Whether intentional or not, Locke left some room in his political thought to allow for the acts of utter selfishness that he left out of his thesis on the human spirit. In Hobbes’ social model, the halting of aggression from one man to the next does not make up for the loss of freedom to the central monarch. His limited governments could protect the rights of everyone while not preventing people from behaving naturally. In my humble opinion, this protection of basic rights while maintaining most freedoms would qualify as the ideal state.

Finally, an analysis of most modern media, from the news to movies and beyond, reveals that freedom is very important to most people. That once again shows that freedom is the natural state of man, and nothing short of that will last for too long. Overall, the ideas of Locke are much more appealing due to his fundamental ideas about the human spirit. Those ideas had a lot of influence on many later political philosophers, and forever changed the politics of both Europe and the rest of the world. Both Locke and Hobbes were very important to European history, and there is no doubt that politics would be very different without them. However, it is Locke who comes closer to the perfect state. Bibliography Ever since the two men themselves walked the Earth, there has been considerably