The Political Philosophies of Hobbes and Locke Comparison Essay by JPWrite

The Political Philosophies of Hobbes and Locke
This paper relates that Thomas Hobbes and John Locke represent opposite ends of the spectrum of seventeenth century political philosophy.
# 67545 | 3,050 words | 9 sources | MLA | 2005 | US

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This paper explains that Thomas Hobbes, who believed that man was cruel and evil by nature, espoused the idea that only the firm grip of an absolute authority would be successful in governing a society of men; countering this extreme view, John Locke put forth the idea that man was rational and peace-seeking by nature and that any useful system of government must be chosen by men and must serve the best interests of the polity. The author points out that, despite these difference, both philosophers argued their cases within the same terms of debate; both (1) spoke of social contracts and of the nature of man, (2) were concerned with defining the type of government that would be best suited to govern societies, as well as the reasons why man should submit to any form of government at all and (3) were concerned with the ultimate objective of avoiding conflict and violence and thereby assisting their fellow men in the task of peaceful coexistence. The paper summarizes that Hobbes had a dimmer view of mankind than Locke because, in the Hobbesian world, every man is preoccupied with the task of survival and will do anything to meet his goal of self-preservation; whereas, Locke expounds on mankind's virtues and on his innate sense of morality.

From the Paper:

"Locke argued a final, crucial point in direct dispute against Hobbes: that man has the natural right to quit government. Locke envisioned Hobbes' ideal of government-by-force as a counterproductive hunting match: "Whereas by supposing they have given up themselves to the absolute arbitrary power and will of a legislator, they have disarmed themselves, and armed him to make a prey of them when he pleases..." Man has thus, in constructing and submitting to an absolute authority, theoretically turned over every one of his natural rights. Where Hobbes wrote that man had a right to quit government only when it was matter of laying down one's life for no just cause, Locke leaves this self-eject option much broader. He even goes so far as to say that when a government begins to fail its people, and undermine its primary intent, the citizens subject to it have not only a right but an obligation to revolt against its power."

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The Political Philosophies of Hobbes and Locke (2006, July 11) Retrieved May 30, 2023, from

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"The Political Philosophies of Hobbes and Locke" 11 July 2006. Web. 30 May. 2023. <>