IntroductionThis essay is concerning Thomas Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory, one of his most influential contributions to political philosophy, within his major work – Leviathan. This will be done by analysing this theories and ideologies regarding the state of nature along with the social contract, comparing and contrasting them to the works of other philosophers along the way and discussing Hobbes’ criticism. Biographical and Background InformationThomas Hobbes was an English Political Philosopher, who was born in the late 16th Century. His major work Leviathan, whose name derives from the biblical monster, was written at a time of uncertainty, civil disorder and great political turmoil, that is, during the English Civil War as well as the invasion of the Spanish Armada. During this time, he found himself surrounded by death, conflict and fear. He eventually moved to Paris, and began to observe his own countrymen killing one another from France. It is here that he thought up his ideology on the state of nature, and came up with his Social Contract Theory. It is important to keep Hobbes’ background in mind when reading his works, as they give context and perspective to where his ideas came from, and why they are so. The State of Nature and the Social Contract TheoryHobbes founded his social contract theory on the state of nature, which was a way of describing human beings in their original condition. Contrary to Aristotle’s claim that human beings are by nature social, he describes the life of human beings in a stateless society, therefore the state of nature, as being:”solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” – Hobbes (1651)Hobbes claimed that in this state of nature, human beings are driven by irrational appetites such as desire, hatred, fear and hope. The strongest of these appetites was that of obtaining and exercising power over others, with self-interest as the only need in mind, making them essentially selfish beings. All of this occurred due to the scarcity of goods and wealth, especially during such troubling times. This is what leads to a life of anarchy or chaos, where there were no rules, government or civilisation and every individual did as they pleased in order to survive. Hobbes also described the state of nature as being:”the war of all against all” – Hobbes (1651).Humans in the state of nature are always at war. Everyone lives in fear of a violent and dangerous death at the hand of their neighbour, is egoistic and vain-glorious. However, human beings do this out of protection of themselves and their property, like a beast having no natural or moral obligation to others and guided solely by survival. It was from this that Hobbes Social Contract Theory emerged. Human beings form this social contract and agree to live in this political state to ensure security and safety, as well as to avoid a violent death in the state of nature. Usually represented as a giant monster, the Leviathan was what Hobbes used to portray his image of the state. The head of the Leviathan was the supreme power and authority of the commonwealth, which is a political body that is run by the sovereign ruler in order to protect the people over which it has complete power. Everyone else within the state falls under the body, run and controlled by the head as part of the social contract. Although, the state is run by equality, in which one is to be ready to give up specific natural rights to the supreme ruler, as long as all other members of the state are doing so. One of these rights is liberty, therefore, accepting the laws and rule of the rulers of the state, in order to guarantee one’s own protection and security. The ruler is to provide this security, both that of a civil war or that of an invasion. In this situation, a balance can be found between freedom and security, entailing that it is more worth giving up some of your freedom if it gives you some form of protection. Although this agreement was created because human beings are naturally self-interested, it was also created because human beings are rational. It makes more sense for the individual to willingly comply to the authority of Sovereignty  and live in a civil society, as it is benefits their own interests. John Locke’s Social Contract TheoryAnother British Philosopher who spoke about the Social Contract Theory as well as the state of nature was John Locke, in the 17th Century. This was a different time in history to that of Hobbes, as it was a time of comparative peace. This meant that he did not look at the state of nature and the natural human being in such a pessimistic way, but rather, instilled optimism as well as positive values within the political perspective. One can see how this is reflected in the way he describes the state of nature in one of his major works – Two Treatises of Government:”men live together according to reason, without a common superior on earth with authority to judge between them.” – Locke (1689)This implies that human beings know the moral law because of their rationality, and do not need one supreme ruler or monarch, as Hobbes proposes. Whilst Hobbes claims that the state is an intervention from, the state of nature, Locke states that human beings are free by nature. There is already a common agreement that no one is to harm another’s life, health, possessions and liberty. He states that as long as one does not interfere with the right to someone’s life, one is entitled to do as they please. He also put forward the idea of human beings having natural rights, three particular rights that can never be overruled by political, man-made laws. Unlike Hobbes, who valued the monarchy or political dictatorship to be the best form of rule within the state, Locke preferred a comparatively democratic type of state, where a government is elected by the people. He emphasised the importance of majority rule, separation of powers and government consent. His opinion on freedom under the social contract was similar to Hobbes’, stating that human beings are to obey the law as long as their freedom is guaranteed and safeguarded. According to Locke, it is our duty to obey the law as long as the ruler does not disobey the rights of his subjects. If he does not protect their freedom and natural rights, especially if abusing of his power whilst doing so, the people are subject to protest, rebelling against and overruling their ruler. According to Locke, the whole point of agreeing to a social contract is to protect people’s possessions, or private property. Having a commonwealth and a government allows people’s property to be preserved under laws created by a political society. Any form of disagreements within a political society are to be settled by a judge using a set of these written laws. Therefore, Locke states that we desire to leave the state of nature simply to protect our property, and not to avoid a violent death and live a peaceful life as Hobbes proposed. CriticismLike all philosophers that ever put their ideas forward, Thomas Hobbes’ views were disagreed upon by critics. It was put forward that his social contract theory is comes from self-contradicting reasoning, due to the fact that human beings in the state of nature would have to had agreed to come together and form the social contract to establish a state. This is self-contradictory because humans in the state of nature, according to Hobbes, were selfish and violent, with their own survival solely in mind, making it hard to come together and agree upon a social contract in the first place. Besides this, for a state to actually form, there must have already been some sort of authority in order to have it set up, meaning that it could not be that human beings in the state of nature are completely solitary and did not cooperate. When criticising the social contract theory, Edmund Burke pointed out that the relationship between the state and the individual is not really a voluntary one, as it is a compulsory and permanent association which people are born into without agreeing to it. Some may argue that this goes against one’s right of freedom. It is also worth noting how this state of nature of every man to himself has never existed in any point within history, as people have always stuck together in order to survive. Even without a state or form of agreement, the tribe or the family was seen as a social unit in which people were united and lived together, not living solitary lives constantly in fear of being killed by every other individual. Therefore, the state of nature as described by Hobbes could not have been what lead to the formation of the social contract. Furthermore, Hobbes claims that human beings in the state of nature are all equal, all fighting to survive, but this was never the case. Inequality has always been more dominant throughout history, as some individuals, families, groups or tribes were always more dominating than others. Some were in better positions than others when it came to survival, making inequality to be obviously more factual in the state of nature. Also, the concept of having rights in the state of nature does not make any sense, even if these are in the form of natural rights and freedom. Rights in themselves imply duties within a collective social understanding, which completely goes against Hobbes’ notion of the state of nature.  ConclusionIn conclusion, one can see how Thomas Hobbes wrote his major work Leviathan at a time of political unrest during the English Civil War, during which he experienced many hardships such as death, conflict and fear. It is clear how this affected his ideas, as his view of the state of nature is a pessimistic one in which life is dangerous, lonely and full of fear, where individuals are run by self-interest and the need to survive. This is what lead to the formation of his social contract theory, in which human beings were able to ensure their own security and avoid a violent death in the state of nature. The state itself is described as the Leviathan, typically a giant monster, with its head being the ruler of all citizens, which make up its body. Finally, Hobbes argues that it is more worth giving up some freedom by entering this social contract in order to ensure safety, rather than be completely free in the state of nature at risk of a violent death by your neighbour. One can also see how John Locke proposed a more realistic view on the state of nature and the formation of a social contract. His opinion of the state of nature was more optimistic, claiming that human beings are free by nature, and have rationality to ensure their survival. Locke stated that the main reason for entering into a social contract was to ensure protection of private property, and not to avoid a violent death, as Hobbes claimed. Similarly to Hobbes, Locke mentions how in this social contract, we are to obey the ruler or rulers and the law in order to ensure our own protection and freedom. Hobbes’ ideologies on the state of nature and the social contract can be criticised for multiple reasons. Most of these criticisms revolved around the problem that the statue of nature in itself is inaccurate and self-contradictory. It is a state that never existed throughout history, as described by Hobbes. This is because human beings have always formed some sort of society, even if it was just a family, and stuck together in order to survive. Moreover, there had to be some sort of social cooperation within Hobbes’ proposed state of nature, as without this, the social contract he writes about would never have been formed in the first place. Also, being born into a social contract, as most people apart from its founders were, goes against the whole point of having freedom, as one cannot choose not to be born into this state, or not be part of it. Besides this, inequality was definitely a more realistic view of the state of nature as proposed by Hobbes, as one would always find individuals that are more dominant than others, being in better situations than others in order to ensure survival. Finally, Hobbes’ concept of having rights and freedom within the state of nature makes no sense, as for there to be any form of rights, there must be mutual agreement in a society, which is the complete opposite of what the state of nature, as described by Hobbes himself, was all about. Nevertheless, Hobbes’ ideas have had a great impact on political philosophy, and if analysed correctly with their limitations and historical context in mind, can still be relevant today.

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