Hobbes Vs Rousseau

Topics: State of nature, Political philosophy, Social contract Pages: 4 (1502 words) Published: December 5, 2013
Thomas Hobbes’ imagined “state of nature” is full of “masterless men” (p. 140).  Jean Jacque Rousseau’s imagined “state of nature” is full of radically independent, solitary individuals who are innocent of good and evil. How does Hobbes come to that conclusion about man in the state of nature? On what kinds of evidence does he rely? How does Rousseau come to his conclusion about individuals in the state of nature. On what kind of arguments does he rely? Compare and contrast their imagined states of nature making sure you reference the evidence they draw upon to build their argument.

It is important to remember when relating Hobbes and Rousseau and their ideas of the natural state that they are not speaking of the same thing. Hobbes defines the state of nature as the time when men lived without a common power. Men would constantly be at war with each other, and the elements around them. There would be no laws or authority and without them, men would believe that everything is theirs. It is very similar to the mindset of a child. Children are not born with a natural inclination to share. That is something that parents must teach them as they grow. Greed is naturally instilled in men and because of this men have been fighting and violent even before societies were developed. Men were fighting, stealing, and murdering each other for survival. Rousseau argues with Hobbes. Rousseau describes a hypothetical time when society did not exist and men only acted on their natural instincts which were peaceful and timid. Men would not have any sense of right and wrong because they had not been molded by society’s standards yet. Hobbes states that in the state of nature men would be fearful and greedy and because of this it was necessary for societies to exist. Humans need protection from each other because instinctually we are violent and pose a threat to others. Men naturally crave property and self-preservation and in this environment peace is not possible. When men...
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