Hobbes Vs Rousseau On Human Nature

1051 Words 5 Pages
Starting off, they each had a distinctive understanding of human nature from one another. To Rousseau, humans in primitive times were "noble savages" and it is "civilization" that turned man into a "beast". Conversely, Hobbes believed that being "civilized" is a positive trait and being uncivilized or a "savage" is bad. Concerning human nature, Rousseau theorized that humans were innately good and generous, before being corrupted by the vices of civilization. Human life was most likely peaceful and compassionate as described in his opening line, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” (Rousseau, Chapter 1). Moreover, Rousseau imagined that humans turned rational and selfish once the vices of civilization and their interactions with …show more content…
The description of the state of nature is only a prelude to political theories concerning the ideal political system for humans to live in. On one hand, Rousseau depicted natural man as solitary and peaceful as he illustrated how man is tainted as he becomes societal via the process of moving into society. To him, society is the corrupting force that transforms ‘natural man’ into the self-obsessed beast that Hobbes declares he is. He does not deny Hobbes’ concept of state of nature but declares it incorrect and gives it his own significant meaning. For Rousseau, reverting back to the state of nature is much more than the removal of government or authority. It is the removal of all cultural clothes including beliefs, language and even an understanding of ourselves. At this level of development Rousseau believed that self-love and pity are the only sentiments that remain in our nature. As equality ensues, thirst for power is quenched as there is no one left to have power over. Hence, essentially his political theory aimed to recapture as much primeval natural purity as possible, through the new contract described in his book, “The Social Contract” whereby man is free again. Hobbes’ description of humans in the state of nature as ruthless, disorganized savages was an analytical tool used so people would consent to absolute political authority as the only way to avoid chaos such as that in the state of nature. During the early modern periods when Hobbes lived, claims according to which political power originated from a divine or predetermined condition were accompanied by limitations on political rights of people. Hobbes was original, in that he used his argument in support of such ruling families by urging people that some liberty has to be given up and hence vouching for absolute

Related Documents