hobbes locke paper

hobbes locke paper - In the years after the American...

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In the years after the American Revolution an odd phenomenon began to occur. As the rebel Americans began to set up their own style of ruling and governing, they looked no further than their adversaries for inspiration. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke’s theories became the backbone for the government that has transformed America from a shamble of cities and colonies to an advant-garde world superpower. The answer to why these freshly-freed Americans would look back across the pond to their enslavers for inspiration is simple: Locke, Hobbes and their contemporaries had some of the greatest political ideals in world history. The founding fathers of our country and the other progressive thinkers of the period knew that this was the perfect zone to test them out. Fresh off defeating the heavily favored “redcoat” British Armed Forces, America was in a “state of nature.” This idea, first proposed by Thomas Hobbes nearly 350 years ago in his book Leviathan , suggests that humans without government reside in a life not worth living 1 . In a famous passage from Leviathan , Hobbes describes what life is like in the state of nature: “Whatsoever is consequent to a time of war, when every man is enemy to every man, the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition, there is no industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth [i.e. agriculture]; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of 1 Glen Newey, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Hobbes and Leviathan (New York: Routledge, 2008), 2 1
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time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” 2 Hobbes uses the term “state of war” interchangeably with state of nature in Leviathan , and for good reason. The world he is describing is one of depression, anguish, and lawlessness, a far cry from the bureaucratized and civilized present-day USA. He uses these powerful images to instill fear in his audience, as he is warning how dangerous and difficult living in his state of nature. (Remember, Hobbes was living during the turbulent times of the English Civil War of the 1640s). The problem with the state of war, according to Hobbes, is that it is governed not with laws, but with human nature. Three major human qualities – competition, diffidence, and glory – can be called the root of the quarrelling in the state of war. 3
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This note was uploaded on 04/23/2009 for the course PL/TH PL090/TH09 taught by Professor Dechiara during the Fall '07 term at BC.

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hobbes locke paper - In the years after the American...

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