Differences between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke

We must recognize that Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were two English thinkers who made great contributions to Western political philosophy. Both analyzed the state of nature in terms of human development, natural laws as established norms for human coexistence and defended the right to survival in the state of nature.

Although Hobbes and Locke base their ideas on the defense of an instinctive freedom in which the child and the beast are free beings, their conceptions of the need for reason to exercise freedom are very different. That is why, in this text, we will show the differences between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke starting from their philosophical conceptions.

Thomas Hobbes

Mainly, Thomas Hobbes was an English materialist philosopher born on April 5, 1588 in Westport, United Kingdom and died on December 4, 1679 in Derbyshire, United Kingdom. Hobbes was a recognized theoretician of absolutism and his most recognized works were -Leviathan- and -Elements of natural and political law-, although he left many other written works.

According to Hobbes’s ideas, the laws that govern human behavior are the same ones that govern the Universe, which are of divine origin. For Hobbes, the natural state of man is war because he considers that everyone has the right to satisfy his needs and each one must achieve it by his own strength. This state of permanent war makes man self-destructive, which leads him to seek peace to generate a state of equality among men.

In addition to this, he considers that there are three natural laws where the 1st natural law is the norm established by reason that prohibits man from doing what can destroy his life or deprive him of the means to preserve it. From this first law follows the 2nd natural law that says that man must give up certain rights, provided that other men also do. Subsequently, the 3rd natural law is deduced, which indicates that men must fulfill the pacts they have concluded. Finally, according to Hobbes, natural law prevails after the natural state of war and reason participates in that process.

John Locke

We can say that John Locke was an English empiricist physician and philosopher born on August 29, 1632 in Wrington, United Kingdom and died on October 28, 1701 in High Laver, United Kingdom. Locke is considered the father of classical liberalism, since, with his writings, he laid the foundations for liberal political thought, his most important work being Two Essays on Civil Government.

According to Locke, all ideas come from experience and knowledge from experience. In this way, the state of nature is a state of equality in which all men are creatures of the same species born to jointly enjoy the same natural advantages and to make use of the same faculties. Likewise, he considers that natural law arises from reason and common equity, so that all men refrain from invading the rights of others and harming each other and therefore comply with this natural law that seeks peace and preservation. .

Finally, it indicates that all men have the means to put the natural law into practice, so that each one has the right to punish the transgressors of that law.

Based on the above, the following differences can be deduced:

Thomas Hobbes John Locke
His philosophy is materialistic. His philosophy is empiricist.
It proposes a state of nature of war of all against all. It proposes a peaceful state of nature.
It highlights the need for reason to prohibit man from destroying himself. Emphasizes the need for reason to exercise freedom.
It posits that people could accept any form of government that can take them out of the state of nature. It posits that the people will establish a government that creates laws impartially and has the common good as its goal.

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