European Thinkers The Enlightenment Philosophy
The Enlightenment was a time period of new philosophies and scientific discoveries. Many philosophers had different views on government, human nature and equality. John Locke was an English philosopher, who believed that in natural rights and equality. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher, who believed in absolute monarchies and dictatorships. During the Enlightenment, philosophers John Locke and Thomas Hobbes had opposing views on government and equality.
John Locke was on August 29, 1632, in Somerset, England to Agnes Keene and John Locke senior. He grew up to study medicine in school, and eventually he obtained his license to practice. He gained interest in political affairs after starting a friendship with Lord Ashley, Earl of Shaftsbury. When Lord Ashley fled to Holland, Locke accompanied him. During this exile, he wrote most of his important writings. In 1688, he returned to England and began work as a commissioner of trade until 1700. Eventually, he retired and lived in Essex, until he died on October 28, 1704.
John Locke's major works were not published until he was almost sixty. One of his major works was the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The purpose of this writing was to find out the origin and extent of human knowledge. In this writing he concluded that the source of knowledge comes from experience and senses, thus every man starts off as a blank slate. This means that all men are created equal because they start off with the same lack of knowledge. In another major work, Two Treatises, he attacks patriarchalism and based on natural rights, it frameworks a theory of civil or political society. These books were the product of twenty years of work. In addition, the new idea and perspectives in these essays dominated European thought for no less than two centuries.
John Locke was a social contract theorist and a natural law theorist. He believed that all men were created equal, and where entitled to life, liberty, and property. In his views, the role of government was to serve the people by protecting theses rights and ensuring that. His thinking is that under the social contract, the people give their consent to be governed and give up some of their rights, in order for the government to protect their remaining rights. In the event that the social contract is violated, by the ruler attempting to obtain absolute power, he concedes that the people have a right to kill the rulers and their servants. In his perspective, authorization of the state to use force is meaningless, because it only makes the people confident that the force is just. His beliefs are centered around no one person having absolute power. To avoid having a ruler with absolute power he thought of a system of separation of powers. This format of government ensured that no one person had absolute power and it was later used for the government of the United States.
Thomas Hobbes was born in Wiltshire, England, on April 5 1588.
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes are both natural law theorists and social contract theorists, but their ideas have very few similarities. They have the similar belief that men create a government, thus entering into a social contract because it is in their best interest. In this social contract, they give up some of their rights in exchange for the protection of their remaining rights. The other similarity between them is that they both believe that in a state of nature men are all equal.
Locke and Hobbes have many differences in ideas. In the state of nature, Locke believes that there is a state of relative peace, while Hobbes believes that it is a state of war. John Locke concludes that by human nature, the instinct of man is to be good, but flawed. He believes that they are capable of governing themselves by restraining their flaws. Thomas Hobbes concludes that by human nature, the instinct of man is to be evil, greedy and competitive. This leads him to believe that they cannot govern themselves and they require external control. The job of the state is to ensure justice in Locke's views. Hobbes' view is that whatever the state does is just, and society must simply follow the ruler. In addition, Locke believes that the people have the right to alter or abolish the government if the laws of nature are violated by a representative. Hobbes opposes this belief saying that men have no right to rebel because men will revert to a state of war if the government is removed because it is not in their self-interest. In the opinion of Hobbes you give up your life to the government in return for your life, on the contrary, Locke believes men are born with natural rights.
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