Essay on Thomas Hobbes VS John Locke: Comparison of Political Thinking

Essay on Thomas Hobbes VS John Locke: Comparison of Political Thinking
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Works of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes had a big influence on philosophy and politics. This sample research paper considers Locke and Hobbes’ ideas about the person in the society and their relations, as well as the origin of government. If you’re looking for an original research paper on the same or different topic, make your order on

Locke and Hobbes’ Political Thinking

John Locke (1632-1704) and Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) were well-known thinkers that had a big influence on the evolution of political thinking. Both of them had their unique ideas on the human nature, and relationships between the society, individual, and government. Their viewpoints have many differences and common features.

According to Williams (2003), Hobbes thought of people as of egotistical creatures that can kill each other pursuing personal interests. No one is an exception. People will do everything to protect their own safety. However, it doesn’t mean that all people are selfish or bad. The thing is, personal survival is the most important issue for every human being, and everyone is capable of killing somebody under certain circumstances, especially when it comes to survival.

Order VS Chaos

According to Williams, everyone has his or her own vision of what is right or wrong. There is no universal understanding of right and wrong, moreover, everyone can rationalize and change his or her views under certain circumstances. When a person needs to survive, he or she can use their own sense of right and wrong to justify any action, including killing another person. Thus, people have rights to everything, all moral standards change with time, which makes people not moral or immoral.

Since everybody can kill another person, and the meaning of right or wrong don’t really exist, people need government to ensure order and avoid undesirable situations that would happen without it. Williams (2003) said that life without government would be terrible and full of violence. Governments are created because people agree on certain points about morality and decide to live in peace, according to their moral values. Thus, everyone must get rid of the personal understanding of right or wrong and follow laws of government, in order to live in harmony with others.

However, Hobbes realized that maintaining order wasn’t a real purpose of government. Government is a group of people with power who use their power to rule the weaker. If people wanted to be ruled by government, they would delegate their rights to government voluntarily.

Hobbes has been trying to explain why do people are loyal to government, and why they don’t revolt, despite the fact that government doesn’t meet idealistic standards? In his opinion, reason and morality are two things that keep us from becoming the worst versions of ourselves. Religion teaches people how to behave and makes sure they will follow government’s laws. This model is described as peaceful leaving, as opposed to chaos, that is considered undesirable.

Analyzing John Locke’s philosophy, Mosley (2005) stated that his thinking was determined by his life and certain historical conditions. Locke was raised during the civil war in England. His works on religious rights, government, and freedom of religious expression caused hot debates.

According to Locke, everyone is responsible for rejecting his or her religious freedom and obeying the monarch in order to maintain peace. Locke stated that freedom of religious expression was one of the factors that created many problems for his country. He was afraid that fighting for religious beliefs will lead to anarchy and chaos, therefore destroying the peaceful order. Locke’s position is similar to Hobbes’ ideas, as he also considered monarchy the only way to keep the peace.

Political Philosophy of Locke and Hobbes

According to Mosely (2005), everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. On the other hand, only the monarch is the bearer of power and wisdom, who dictates what religion is right. Everyone must follow the monarch’s will in order to maintain peace and keep the country unified. At that time, many people considered monarchy the only thing that keeps their country from burning in chaos. They have seen the violence of wars in the name of Christianity, so they thought that nobody should be given religious freedom, as it could lead to anarchy.

According to Locke, the monarch must dictate what religion others should worship, even if such a choice changes as regimes change. His idealistic works described the monarch as a smart and enlightened ruler who is able to maintain peace. This image of a smart ruler was opposed to the uneducated masses who are driven only by their selfish wills.

Locke also thought that reformists want to trick the masses, giving them a false idea of what they’re fighting for while looking for possible ways of getting power and control. He considered reformists egotistical and selfish people, while the monarch was chosen by God, so his intentions were unquestionable. Locke stated that everyone must follow the monarch’s will because he knows what’s best for the masses and his power doesn’t come from selfish intentions. Thus, Locke’s ideas were rooted in Hobbes’ works and also developed main Hobbes’ ideas.

However, there is a difference between Locke’s and Hobbes’ philosophies. Hobbes thought that people should obey the monarch to escape their awful human nature. According to Hobbes, nobody has a right to judge another person, but as people realize how valuable peace is, they must understand that following their monarch is the only right choice. He also stated that a person must have a certain morality to be able to understand how important it is to be controlled by government. Hobbes thought that human nature is terrible, so they must be ruled to avoid chaos.

According to Mosely (2005), Locke had different ideas about human nature. He stated that there are universal moral standards that should be accepted by everyone. The society must be based on these moral values because otherwise, it won’t be able to guarantee anyone’s physical safety. Even if people choose to give up these morals after some terrible experience in their lives, it doesn’t make these morals less universal.

Locke considered morals the product of mutual agreement. This agreement is intended to maintain peace, however, it doesn’t mean that people should follow moral laws blindly. Instead, they must understand how valuable these rules are. Locke also said that the monarch has certain responsibilities as well. He must be aware of the masses’ point of view, earn their trust, and make everything possible to avoid a forceful submission. This system was considered a mutual trust. Locke’s ideas differ from Hobbes’ thoughts because he stated that universal morals do exist, and a powerful monarchy is the only way to maintain these morals and peace.

Locke’s views changed with time, deviating from Hobbes’ ideas even more. He observed how people of different religions were trying to make their religion the monarch’s religion so that their beliefs would be accepted by everyone. In his later works, Locke stated that people have a right to worship any god they like. He came to a conclusion that people must follow their individual beliefs and create a mutual agreement that will allow them to live peacefully. Moreover, Locke realized that having a right to their own opinions, people won’t follow the monarch will blindly. He said that the monarch must take into account the variety of beliefs and opinions so that people can express themselves and worship as they want. Otherwise, people and government will be in a constant fight, so the monarch shouldn’t force people to submit when he can prevent such a situation.

The more the political situation in England changed, the more Locke’s ideas deviated from Hobbes’ ideas. With time, Locke realized that Hobbes’ views cannot be a universal solution, and people must be able to have their own opinion about religion and monarchy. These changes in Locke’s philosophy were caused by his attempt to find out a new mutual agreement for the people of England.

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