Hobbes Vs. Locke
Compare and contrast between Hobbes and Locke on their views of the natural conditions of man. What are the most important distinctions between these two philosophers on their views of the rights of the sovereign? What was the novelty of Hobbes and Locke's theory with respect to the sources of the legitimacy of political power (Sovereign) and political institution (the state)?
It is often said that our thoughts mirror the environment to which we are exposed to. With Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, one could certainly argue this point. Both were exposed to a tumultuous time in England history and lived through a civil war. Experiencing this prompted both philosophers to write on the origin of man, how he exists in the state of nature, and how the transition from this state of nature to a civilized society in which the people set up a government occurs. It is evident from both texts that their views were most likely influenced by the war. It is also apparent that Hobbes saw the war in a more negative light, which served to see the nature of man in a negative light. Locke is the more optimistic of the two and credits the nature of man as being peaceful. Nonetheless, this evolution of man from natural rule to governmental rule gives us two concepts of how this government should be employed. Hobbes argues for a monarchial state while Locke believes it to be important for the government to be branched so to establish a system of checks and balances. While no view can be fully right or wrong, it is important to consider the aspects of each philosopher's work, as did philosophers who wrote after Leviathan and The Second Treatise were published.
Before a society is ever established, it is thought that man lived in a state of nature like all other animals. Both philosophers in question chose to investigate the central subject of civil government, the human being, and then defined it's origin, evolution, and form. In Locke