Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were some of the most influential political thinkers of their times. Living during different times, their contrasting views were influenced by what they experienced. Thomas Hobbes
lived through one of most bloodiest wars ever, the “English Civil War”; and making him view mankind and evil and beastly. On the other hand, John Locke lived through the “Glorious Revolution”, one of the most bloodless and peaceful wars ever fought; thus viewing humans as nonviolent. Hobbes and Locke are renowned philosophers for their firm believes in their thoughts and views about the nature of mankind.
Thomas Hobbes was a very accomplished writer. In 1651, the English Civil War inspired Hobbes to write is famous, “Leviathan”. It studied physical bodies and human nature. Hobbes viewed people and society as materialistic and mechanical. He defined human will as, “the last appetite before choice”. Although he viewed mankind as unthinking, he did believe that man can prosper from the use of science.
Hobbes viewed mankind in a very negative way. He claimed that people had a strong desire to attain power. Hobbes saw the original human state as corrupted and evil. He saw people as self-centered monsters without a master. In his view, the only way to prevent people from acting out of sorts was to impose a tightly ruled government, known as absolutism. He thought that a strong ruler could control the negative aspects of man. He believed that absolute rulers should have complete unlimited power. Hobbes did not care who was in power, as long as it was an absolute ruler.
John Locke also was a renowned writer. In 1690, he wrote, “Essay concerning Human Understanding”. Unlike Hobbes, Locke described the human mind as a blank
tablet at birth. He said that no one was born good or evil, but that the society people grow up in influences their morality. Locke showed his disapproval with Hobbes’ claim that rulers were absolute in power when he wrote, “Two Treatises of Government”. Locke believed that an absolute monarchy was inconsistent and no form of civil government. He believed that the best form of government was a limited constitutional monarchy.
In contrast to Hobbes, Locke believed that it was important to protect the rights of life, health, liberty, and possessions. Locke has five main points concerning the rights of the people. First; all men are born with certain undeniable rights concerning life, liberty, and property. Second; the purpose of the government is to protect those rights. Third; the purpose of society is to protect those rights. Fourth; the rights of people can not be denied without due process. Lastly; if any government fails to protect these rights or denied these rights, people have the right of revolution. His last point is the most revolutionizing one of all, because for the first time in European history, someone claims that people have the right to rebel if treated unjustly.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke had very different views when it comes to the state and right of mankind. Hobbes viewed mankind as inherently evil and as savage beasts. While Locke claimed humans were born clean and pure, but it is society that influences the evil. Hobbes wanted an absolute monarchy to control the wild nature of man. On the other hand, Locke wanted a limited monarchy and the preservation of mans rights. In Hobbes view, the greatest good was law and order, while Locke believed in maintaining the rights owed to man.