Philosophy and Society
October 30, 2017
In political theory the State of Nature is a hypothetical state that human beings lived in before they began to form governments. Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke, used the state of nature to theorize about the motives that led humans to create government structures and what those government structures should be. Of the three, Locke’s concept of the state of nature is the most realistic and most capable of creating good government.
Hobbes states, that existence in the state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Hobbes) a constant state of competition in which each individual …show more content…
Mankind may still return to the state of nature if the power of the state collapses. Hobbes believed that if the power of the state is absolute, its collapse is very unlikely and only occurs when the state is no longer able to protect its people.
Rousseau disagreed with Hobbes’s conception of the state of nature. Rousseau’s state of nature is a, peaceful and morally neutral state were solitary live as “Noble Savages” (Rousseau) individuals act according to their basic urges, hunger etc., and their need for self-preservation. These urges and needs are tempered by a natural sense of compassion.
Rousseau believed that the state of nature was a primitive state that preceded the creation of society and that it was only when people left the state of nature and began living together in society that they began living lives that resembled Hobbes’s description of the state of nature, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and …show more content…
Humans developed government to impose law and order and control the state of war between individuals. Hobbes government is designed to control people in order to protect them from themselves.
Rousseau believed the state of nature was idyllic and that humans lived freely as equals the negative aspects of human behavior were created by government structures not solved by them. People need to return to the state of nature and have no permanent government institutions. Government functions should be performed by all of the people, not by representatives, as necessary to meet specific needs.
Lockes’ state of nature has both the good and bad aspects of Hobbes and Rousseau. People had complete freedom to do as they wanted, as Rousseau believed, but exercising that freedom sometimes created conflict between people as Hobbes believed. Locke believed that people create governments to protect the rights of all the people without unnecessarily restricting the rights of individuals.
Lockes’ view is more accurate because humans do have the flaws of Hobbes and the aspirations of Rousseau. The governmental structure that Locke developed from his concept of the state of nature balances Rousseau’s complete freedom with Hobbes’s potentially oppressive