Angels and Demons:
Locke and Hobbes Thoughts on Mankind
Part 1 of 2: Read Hobbes Leviathan and John Locke’s Of Civil Government and answer the following questions.
- Why would the basic nature of humans be a topic of discussion for Enlightenment thinkers?
- How does Hobbes views of Human Nature differ from Locke’s view? Which perspective do you agreed with more? Why?
- Why would this (the understanding of the nature of men) be important for developing a concept for an ideal form of government
- How would these writers have come up with their point of view?
- How could Locke and Hobbes have come to such different conclusions?
- Describe three experiences you’ve had that would support Locke or Hobbes’ views on government and man.
SELECTIONS FROM THE LEVIATHAN
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Nature has made men so equal, in the faculties of the body and mind; as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together,the difference between man and man, is not so considerable…
From this equality of ability, arises equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end, which is principally their own conservation, and sometimes their delectation only, endeavor to destroy or subdue one another. And from hence it comes to pass, that where an invader has no more to fear than another man’s single power; if one plant, sow, build, or possess a convenient seat, others may probably be expected to come prepared with forces united, to dispossess and deprive him, not only of the fruit of his labor, but also of his life or liberty.
The State of Nature:
From this equality of ability, arises equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy,they become enemies….
Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man. For war consists not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time,where in the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known.
In such condition there is no place for industry[meaning productive labor, not”industry”in modern sense of factories], because the fruit there of is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, no ruse of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building …no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of 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.
SELECTIONS FROM OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT
John Locke (1632-1704)
The State of Nature
To understand political power aright, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature; without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man….
The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind,that being all equal and independent,no one ought to harm another in his life,health,liberty,or possessions: for men[are]all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business….
Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature.
God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life, and convenience. The earth, and all that is there in, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being.
Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy. And thus, considering the plenty of natural provision there was a long time in the world, and the few spenders… there could be then little room for quarrels or contentions about property so established.
Part 2 of 2:
Looking at Montesquieu and Rousseau find 2 quotes from each document that correspond to the tenets (beliefs) of the Philosophes (6 total). Be sure to explain how each quote or phrase fits supports the tenet.
Basic Tenets of Enlightenment Thought:
- Human society is governed by Natural Laws.
- These Natural Laws can be discovered by rational men.
- Human society can turn from traditional, authoritarian forms, and progress toward a more perfect government through rational thought.
Find 4 quotes each from Locke and Hobbes that support these tenets as well. If you are having difficulty go beyond the excerpt and continue your search online.
*DISCLAIMER: The Enlightenment thinkers shared many beliefs and the entire movement cannot be simplified into 3 simple statements, but it’s not that far off either.
SELECTIONS FROM THE SPIRIT OF THE LAWS (1749)
Charles de Secondat,Baron de Montesquieu
Of the Laws in General
Laws, in their most general meaning, are the necessary relations arising from the nature of things. In this sense, all beings have their laws, the Deity his laws, the material world its laws, the intelligences superior to man their laws, the beasts their laws, man his laws….
Since we observe that the world, though formed by the motion of matter, and void of understanding, subsists through so long a succession of ages, its motions must certainly be directed by invariable laws….
Law in general is human reason, in as much as it governs all the inhabitants of the earth; the political and civil laws of each nation ought to be only the particular cases in which human reason is applied.
They should be adapted in this manner to the people for whom they are framed, because it is most unlikely that the laws of one nation will suit another.
They should be relative to the nature and principle of each government…. They should be relative to the climate of each country, to the quality of its soil, to its situation and extent, to the principal occupation of the inhabitants, whether farmers, huntsmen, or shepherds: they should have a relation to the degree of liberty which the constitution will bear, to the religion of the inhabitants, to their manners, and customs… in all which different respects they ought to be considered.
SELECTIONS FROM THE SPIRIT OF THE LAWS (1749)
Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
Of Political Liberty and the Constitution of England
Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power: but constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.
To prevent this abuse,it is necessary, from the very nature of things, that power should be a check to power.
The political liberty of the subject is a tranquility of mind arising from the opinion each person has of his safety. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another.
When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates,there can be no liberty….
Again,there is no liberty if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive.
In perusing the admirable… [governments], we find it is from that nation the English have borrowed the idea of their political government. This beautiful system was invented first in the woods….
Neither do I pretend by this to undervalue other governments, nor to say that this extreme political liberty ought to give uneasiness to those who have only a moderate share of it. How should I have any such design; I who think that even the highest refinement of reason is not always desirable, and that mankind generally find their account better in mediums than in extremes?
SELECTIONS FROM THE SOCIAL CONTRACT(1762)
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Man is born free, and every where he is in chains. Many a one believes himself the master of others, and yet he is a greater slave than they….
[T]he social order is a sacred right which serves as a foundation for all others… now,as men cannot create any new forces,but only combine and direct those that exist, they have no other means of self-preservation than to form… a sum of forces which may overcome the resistance, to put them in action…and to make them work in concert.
This sum of forces can be produced only by the combination of man; but the strength and freedom of each man being the chief instruments of his preservation, how can he pledge them without injuring himself, and without neglecting the cares which he owes to himself?This difficulty, applied to my subject, may be expressed in these terms:
‘To find a form of association which may defend and protect with the whole force of the community the person and property of all its members and by means of which each, coalescing with all, may nevertheless obey only himself,and remain as free as before. Such is the fundamental problem of which the social contract furnishes the solution.’
In short, each giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody…
We see from this formula that the act of association contains a reciprocal engagement between the public and individuals, and that every individual… is engaged in a double relation….
…the social pact… includes this engagement… that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be constrained to do so by the whole body; which means nothing else than that he shall be forced to be free….