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Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Rousseau

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704) were two main political philosophers during the seventeenth century. They disagreed on many key issues of their time, such as human nature, political authority, and the right of people to rebel. They have very different opinions of the characteristics of man. Hobbes sees man as being evil, whereas Locke views man in a much more optimistic light. They both agree that all men are equal according to natural law. However, their ideas of natural law differ greatly. Hobbes sees natural law as a state of war in which every man is a enemy to every man. On the other hand, Locke sees natural law as a state of equality and freedom. Locke therefore believes that government is necessary in order to preserve natural law, and on the contrary, Hobbes sees government as necessary in order to control natural law. Since natural law is good, and not evil for Locke, it is the role of government to preserve natural law. For Hobbes on the other hand, government must exist in order to control natural law. The ideas presented by Hobbes and Locke are often in opposition. Hobbes have much more pessimistic stance, viewing men as evil, natural law as a state of war, and government as something that can wipe out natural law. Locke takes a much more optimistic stance, viewing men as free and equal and seeing government as only a preservation of the state they are in. Five main themes which significantly overlap and cannot be separated, are the state of nature, the basis for the development of government, the primary intent of government, the state of war, and the ultimate effect of the state on the individual. Rousseau believed that a truly free government is one where everyone votes, including every citizen. He believes man has the most freedom in the state of nature, but because man has the ability to rationalize and the desire to be social, he must enter a social contract with others in order to have a free and equal society. Rousseau believes that for man to exit a State of Nature he must agree to a Social Contract. Rousseau's "Social Contract" in the simplest terms is, each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and in our capacity, we receive each member as indivisible part of the whole". The Social Contract also keeps people from being totally alienated and affords them better protection. If a large group of people enter a Social Contract, they can more easily defend themselves against their enemies, and criminals who live in societies with no Social Contract. So, we can say that, by Rousseau, all things are equal, man is still free, and maintains autonomy.

Ahmed Sulejmanovic