The State Of Nature In John Locke And Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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In John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theories, the state of nature is pre-political. It aims to explain the origin of the political order and the legitimacy of human society. Men in Locke’s theory give up their perfect freedom in the state of nature to secure the advantages of civilized society (Locke 495). The role of the government then is to protect the natural rights of all namely man’s property and liberty (Locke 493). According to Rousseau, men in their natural state have equality and liberty but they lose these when they enter the civil society. Civilization corrupts men. So, the state/government unites them under the general will and brings people into harmony. This paper argues that the role of the state differs for both Locke …show more content…
He denounces Hobbes’ natural condition of the constant state of war. To him, it is actually a chaotic state but it is neither good nor bad (Locke 501). Men are equal and free to do whatever they want, but they are bound by the law of nature or God’s reasons and will (Locke 493; 498). This state of nature is when a government or civil authority is absent. Rousseau’s state of nature paints the primitive condition of men without law or morality. He believes that men are free and equal (Rousseau 664). Additionally, they are ignorant and innocent or noble savages. They are born with the potential of goodness. Men are like animals except they are capable to “observe and imitate their industry” (Rousseau 624). Moreover, they are isolated and independent so they do not interact much with each other. Yet, interaction and competition are unavoidable especially in times of natural disasters. There is also no government in this state of …show more content…
In Locke’s theory, there is a chaotic state of nature. There exists because a civil authority (i.e., government and common judges) is absent to punish a violator of the law of nature. In turn, no other body aside from the person can protect their natural rights. So, they become their own judge, jury and own executioner against the offender (Locke 499). This situation leads to the variety of interpretation of the law of nature. Thus, one finds confusion, disorder or chaos. In consequence, insecurity of life and property becomes a reality. Locke suggests the civil government as a solution to this problem. Men from a community or a civil (political) society to secure their natural rights. In doing so, men institute a common law for all men so impartiality and authoritative judge exist. According to Rousseau, this occurs when natural disasters force men to move from the state of nature to form a civil state (641). It becomes necessary for the independent man in the state of nature to make contact with other. He unites himself to others and together they form a civil society or an association. In this civil society, everyone consents to be governed by the general will for the sake of collective good and interest. In this way, the government has a more direct rule by the

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