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The Enlightenment, also named the Age of reason, was an era for the period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The term “Enlightenment” also specifically talks about a rational movement. Moreover, this movement provided a basis for the American and French Revolutions. During this period, philosophers started to realize that by using reason they can find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Enlightenment philosophers believed that all human beings should have freedom of religion and speech.
Furthermore, they wanted to have a government of their own and a right to vote. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were two very important philosophical thinkers of their time. John Locke was a prominent thinker from England, and Thomas Hobbes is perhaps the most complete materialist philosopher of the 17th century. John Locke believed that people are good, and they should have natural rights such as “life, liberty, and property” but Thomas Hobbs main focus was how human beings can live together in peace and evade the danger and fear of civil war. John Locke (1634-1704) was one of the most significant and powerful philosophers during the Enlightenment era.
Both the French Enlightenment and Founding Fathers of the American Revolution drew on his thoughts. John Locke suggested that the human mind was a tabula rasa (blank slate). There were no “innate ideas” known from birth by all people and society forms people’s mind. Since all people share the same undeveloped usual features, people are all equal and they determine their liberty. Locke said all human beings are equal expect women and Negroes because they are closer to the state of nature therefore they are less civilized and this led to the American Revolution. Locke’s most important work of political philosophy was the Two Treatises on Government.
He argued that the power of the king is derived from the people, each person has a right to hold property, and if ruler takes this property from people without their own permission, people can depose and resist him. . Thomas Hobbes is another philosopher in 17th century who argued that people were naturally wicked and could not be trusted to govern. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was born in London. He finished his college education at Oxford University in England, where he studied classics.
Hobbes was English philosopher, scientist, and historian, best known for his political philosophy, especially as expressed in his masterpiece Leviathan. In his boos he described the “state of nature” where all persons were naturally equal. He said that people are frightened of violent death, and every single human on the planet has a right to protect him/herself in any way possible. He assumed that it’s in people’s best interest to avoid war. Moreover, he believed that life in the state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Although John Locke and Thomas Hobbes do have some similarities, they have different opinions about most of their political arguments.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were two of the great political theorists of their time. Both created great philosophical texts that help to describe their opinions about man’s state of nature in addition to the role of government in man’s life. Both of them believed in individualism. Two years after the end of the English Civil War, Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan. He believed people had a good personality, if they were left to their own plans, life would become “a solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
He said if people give some of their freedom, they can have a harmless life. He believed people are always in competition with each other for the best food, shelter, money, and so on. Hobbes supposed the best way to protect citizens would be to have a sovereign that is threatening and supreme. . Locke’s view of the state of nature says that humans have limits as to what people should or should not do. In contrast to Hobbes, Locke believed that humans are generally nice to one another, and we will not bother one another.
Therefore, in Locke’s state of nature, humans are peaceful. Locke believed that people had the basic principles needed for a civilized society, so they were allowed to have natural rights such as life, liberty, and property. Locke believed rather than each person being equally at risk of death, each person was equally free and sovereign.
The Enlightenment was an era of free thinking and individualism. Different philosophers had enormous role in this era. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were philosophers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Both philosophers had very strong views on freedom and how a country should be governed.
Hobbes had more of a negative view on freedom while Locke’s opinions are more positive.
Fernández Armesto, Felipe. “The Exchange Of Enlightenments: Eighteenth Century Thought.” The World : A History. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2010. 738-65. Print. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on John Locke (1634–1704).” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 14 Mar. 2013 SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679).” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.