Hobbes’s Perspective on Human Nature

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Hobbes point of view on human nature and how a government should be run is a more realistic way of looking at things than John Locke’s theory. Both Hobbes and Locke see human nature differently, Hobbes sees people as being run by selfishness whereas Locke says that people are naturally kind. In our state of nature, Hobbes says we have no rights but Locke suggests that we have natural rights, God-given rights. Using reason, people decide to enter into a social contract with a ruler or a form of government, which would make a trade that, would help both of the parties. They both argue that the ruler can go too far or not fulfill their part of the contract, giving the people the right to revolt. Hobbes shows that humans are naturally evil that lays down the groundwork for his form of government.

Hobbes and Locke’s theories differ greatly beginning with their views of human nature. Hobbes suggests that people are naturally, solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish. He also says that without authority mankind is selfish and egotistical. John Locke, on the other hand, sees people as being peaceful in their nature state. These different points of show how they formed their theory of the state of nature.

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Without a government people are put into their state of nature, Hobbes and Locke both picture a different scene when they express human state of nature. Hobbes states that the condition of people before government was short, solitary, poor, brutish, and disorderly. But John Locke shows a different point of view, he notes three rights that are God-given and inalienable, these three are life, liberty, and property. Knowing what people do and don’t have the right to relates to how the government should rule their subjects.

A social contract is an agreement between the people and the government in order to preserve order. Hobbes sees the government or ruler as a powerful sovereign. He named it “Leviathan,” which is the name of a giant sea serpent in the Old Testament that supposedly battled Yahweh. The people must trade their rights, power, and their desire to dominate in order to receive protection. This special type of protection punishes those who break the contract. Under Locke’s theory, the ruler must protect the people’s natural rights and the people must give up their power to rule each other. The government’s job is to keep the people happy by not overstepping their boundary.

Hobbes and Locke both agree on the fact that there is a point in time that it is not only the right but also the responsibility of the people to overthrow the government. The government must be stable in order to follow through on their side of the contract or they are bringing a revolt upon themselves. Hobbes says that the Leviathan must be taken out of power when he fails to fulfill his side of the contract. Under Locke’s rules, the government must be overthrown when any of the people’s three God-given rights are taken away or lost. After viewing why a government should or would be overthrown we can look at Hobbes and Locke’s theory’s overall.

Hobbes’ theory is a pessimistic look at human being and the way they act around each other but Locke’s theory suggests that people are more easy-going and peaceful towards each other. As we see in the news daily, people are often cruel and inhumane, and we also see kinder people in everyday life. We see people who give up their own personal pleasure so they can serve others. But these people are far and few between, it becomes quickly obvious that humans are drawn towards self-happiness. A morally pure person would look at their neighbor and think, “what can I do to help him?” whereas the more realistic perspective would be, “what would make me happy right now?” Hobbes’ form of government uses the natural state of man to create a way of living that would help everyone, so you can feel safe in a usually non-safe environment.

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Hobbes’s Perspective on Human Nature. (2018, Sep 09). Retrieved from


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