Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Racques Rosseau were philosophers who stated their belief of human nature and how we should govern mankind. Although Rousseau was born a different time than Hobbes and Locke, they all had a very strong influence on the way governments should function. They created a revolutionary idea of the state of nature, the way men were before a government came into play. Each philosopher developed guidelines and responsibilities that the government is obliged to.
Although proposing different views and ideas, they all contributed significant ideas to society. Thomas Hobbes, Jock Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all differed on their views of government. Thomas Hobbes described the state of nature for man is “nasty, brutish and short. ” In order to escape this, people must give up freedom to receive peace and order by the protection of the government. Hobbes believed in an absolute monarchy. Order could only be established with a ruler holding absolute power.
The state was there to prevent people from attacking and killing each other. His structure of a government was to prevent chaos and violence. Just like Hobbes, John Locke believed there was a need to establish order; however, he saw a different way to achieve this. He had a more optimistic perspective on human kind. People should give up some rights to attain protection, like Hobbes’ outlook of the social contract, but if the government does not fulfill its duty, the people must change it. Rebellion was only justified if the ruler lost the consent of his people.
Hobbes believed that it was never justified. John Locke believed in any type of representative government such as a republic, constitutional monarchy or democracy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau had been considered by some the prophet of democracy. Rousseau believed in the General Will, the decision of the majority, because what is best for all is best for an individual. He said people enslaved in the law. All rights of people are given up to the “General Will” in order to be incorporated through the legislature.
The state is there to enact the General Will. Society embarked on with the state of nature. The English Civil War was influential to Hobbes and Locke. It made Locke object violence. Hobbes believed that to put an end to the war, an absolute monarchy must be established. Rousseau was influenced by emotion and not reason. This was the origin of Romanticism. The three philosophers’ vision of the state of nature was contrasting in terms of things like property and freedom. Hobbes believed that man was essentially evil, bad and corrupt.
His view of depravity of human nature was influenced by the English Revolution. He believed that humans would constantly fight if left alone, especially over property which was a limited source that was competed for. Thomas Hobbes essentially believed that humans were not good and order was established by depriving humans of their rights and freedom. According to Hobbes, state of nature was state of war. John Locke believed people were born with a blank slate or mind and their surroundings and environment made them good or evil.
Like Rousseau, Locke believes that people are equal, not in ability but in rights. People are born entitled to natural rights, life liberty and property. He stated, “Man is born free, and everywhere is in chains” was said by Rousseau. He also thought that men were born free and are good and that it is society that is corrupt. In order to accomplish this objective, society must eliminate all titles. His understanding was that the title of nobility should be abolished. Noble savage was a concept he admired very much. Humans are just like any other animal.
These philosophers agreed that things must be sacrificed to advance society. Despite their differences, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau could all comply that Government should not be through the Church. This contradicted the concept of Divine Right, which is the belief that a monarch received their power only from God. To determine what society should be, a clean slate was needed which included freedom of religion. Thomas Hobbes believes that the state must be only one religion in order to be united. John Locke declares that the state should have religious toleration.
Rousseau does not repudiate God but is disgusted with religion, especially Christianity. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all acknowledge that before men were to govern, we lived in a state of nature. They all constructed their own adaptation of what a government should be and how society should work. All of them recognize that the government should not be through the church and differ on human nature and the form of government. Their ideas were inspiring and spread to many places constructing new governments. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau were revolutionary.
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