The examination of human nature is one of the most fascinating subjects for philosophers, who attempted to approach it from the perspective of the dominant innate characteristics. Therefore, their stances differed depending on the assessment of the significance of certain qualities, which were, according to their opinions, prevalent in people. The two thinkers who demonstrated the varying perceptions of this topic are Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and the complexity of their ideas was added by the need to find a place of a person in society. This paper aims to provide the views of the mentioned philosophers on human nature and compare them to reveal the difference between their approaches to people’s roles.
Hobbes’s Views of Human Nature
The philosophical thought of Thomas Hobbes reflected a negative perspective on human nature. Thus, he believed that a man was a creature of desire and, therefore, could be seen only as cruel and selfish (“Hobbes vs Locke: State of nature,” 2020). According to Hobbes, this cruelty was derived from the desire to gain a more advantageous position in society compared to other people’s situations (Comrade, 2017). The selfishness, in turn, was conditional upon the prevailing orientation of a person on one’s own needs in contrast to the benefits of community (“Hobbes vs Locke: State of nature,” 2020). In this way, it can be concluded that Thomas Hobbes saw the main threat to the people.
Locke’s Views of Human Nature
The views of John Locke regarding human nature stemmed from the understanding of peoples’ reasonability. From this perspective, the key to the prosperity of all members of society was in the provision of independence in the decision-making process (Comrade, 2017). In this approach, the role of a human was related to the establishment of equality in a natural way (“Hobbes vs. Locke: State of nature,” 2020). Locke believed that this outcome was inevitable in the case if everyone had the same powers and rights or, in other words, was in a state of non-subjection (“Hobbes vs. Locke: State of nature,” 2020). Therefore, the emphasis of his thought was on the need for individual freedom, which will be reasonable due to the kind nature of people.
The Difference Between Locke’s and Hobbes’ Perspectives
The opposing perspectives of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke represent the conflicting notions of desire and reason, respectively. Considering this fact, the principal difference between their approaches is in the former’s confidence in the need for control defined by the greedy nature of humans (“Hobbes vs Locke: State of nature,” 2020). It is contrasted by the latter’s belief in the importance of independence deriving from the alleged reasonability of people’s deeds, which cannot be bad for society (“Hobbes vs Locke: State of nature,” 2020). Even though these two stances are equally well justified, the opinion of Locke seems to be more accurate. The introduction of limitations to people proposed by Hobbes can become the main factor making the members of society care about their benefits. Meanwhile, the independence of people will be an optimal solution since it implies no obstacles to their development.
In conclusion, the intentions of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke to explain human nature from the point of view of innate qualities resulted in the emergence of the two opposite approaches to the subject. The need for control contrasted by the necessity to ensure independence present the extremes, which seem to be disadvantageous for societal benefits. Nevertheless, the perspective of John Locke is less harmful than the one of Thomas Hobbes. It can be explained by the possible negative perceptions of limitations by the population, which can complicate the situation, whereas the provision of opportunities promotes the development of humanity.
Comrade, J. (2017). The state of nature: Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke. Owlcation. Web.
Hobbes vs. Locke: State of nature. (2020). The Philosophy. Web.