Comparing Views of Human Nature: John Locke Vs Thomas Hobbes

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John Locke viewed human nature as imperfect and insecure. He believed that people are good and that everyone has good intentions. Locke believed human nature lacked the ability to cooperate, and this was because of inadequate common laws. People should honor their obligations and obey the laws set by the government. Locke believed the government was a social contract that should be agreed to and abided by its people.

This government was to be run by a central authority that would represent the majority. Locke believed that the will of the people and their natural rights to life, liberty, and property shouldn’t be limited by the government. If those who governed did not mean well or did not have the will of the people in mind, they would lose their legitimacy. Locke believed that people should only revolt if legislators took away their way of life, and that the people would decide when a revolution was required.Locke believed in a government for the people, by the people, which is why he influenced so much of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Hobbes viewed human nature as cutthroat and characteristically bad. Hobbes believed the only motivation for dealing with others was their own self-interest and saw everyone as an egoist. He believed people make decisions to benefit themselves. This would cause people’s own interests to conflict with those of others, causing society to live in fear and insecurity. Hobbes had an absolutist view of government and democracy.

Hobbes believed that "good" and "evil" referred to our own desires and aversions. He believed that notions of right and wrong or justice and injustice had no place in the state of nature. In his view, he believed the commonwealth should share power with those who are governed because he believed in equality among the people. War would occur when there was no common power, or Leviathan, to keep them in check. If this war were to occur, Hobbes believed everyone would be against everyone and that every man had the right to everything.

Locke and Hobbes did not see human nature in the same way. Their views were almost opposite. Unlike Hobbes, Locke did not believe that all people were egotistical or motivated by their own self-interests. Hobbes view of human nature was negative and was fueled by the belief that self-interest and this inequality among people would cause permanent conflict. Hobbes saw this conflict as war and thought there was no other means to end it. Locke viewed human nature more positively and believed that this conflict did not mean war. Locke thought that an ego made a person biased. Locke believed that when we act on those selfish desires, we attack the peace of other people’s property and people.

I think Locke’s view of nature is more accurate. I believe that people are well-intentioned, but they are usually led astray by their egos. If these selfish ways were to be checked, then those struggles with powers wouldn’t exist. I agree with Locke that the government and common laws should be obeyed. Only when the government abuses its power or when it no longer has the best interest of its people in mind should it be overthrown. I don’t believe that people only act in their own self-interest; the relationship or interaction can be mutually beneficial. I unfortunately see human nature as cutthroat, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Comparing Views of Human Nature: John Locke vs Thomas Hobbes. (2023, Mar 12). Retrieved May 17, 2024 , from
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