Discussion 13: Hobbes and Locke on Why Humans Come Together

Question: Why do humans come together in civil society? What would Locke argue? What does Hobbes argue? Do you agree more with Locke or Hobbes and why?

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Humans come together in a civil society because they need each other to live a good life. No one is an island, that is, no one can live alone. Everyone needs each other to satisfy their needs and wants. For instance, one person may be afflicted by acts of nature such as floods and lose his or her possessions such as house, clothing, and food. When people come together, they can help the afflicted person to recover from the loss. Also, people come together because they desire unity and peace in a civil society. When people come together, they pool resources and for the common good.

Locke would argue that humans come together in a civil society because it is a state of nature for people to come to together for the benefit of each other.  In chapter 10, section 15 of the “Second Treatise of Government”, John Locke states, “the laws of nature, do bind men absolutely, even as they are men, although they have never any settled for fellowship.” This statement means that people come together because of the laws of nature. Furthermore, Locke argues that people come together because they need each other in different capacities. Locke states, “…therefore, to supply those defects and imperfections which are in us, as living single and solely by ourselves, we are naturally induced to seek communion and fellowship with others.” The statement shows that men are not perfect, and they need each other in a civil society.  Locke states that the cause of men’s uniting themselves at first in politic societies include men’s defections and imperfections.

Thomas Hobbes argues that humans come together in civil society to avoid conflict with each other and live in harmony. In the “Levithian”, chapter 13, “Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning their Felicity and Misery”, Hobbes states that nature has made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind, though there are some men who are physically stronger or have a quick mind. Here, Hobbes implies that although nature is neutral, some people manifest differences which may give them an advantage over others in society.  Furthermore, Hobbes states, “..if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies.” (Chapter 13). If they become enemies that would endeavor to destroy each other. Therefore, men come together to avoid conflicts or and to seek the assistance of others.

I agree more with Locke than Hobbes because Locke argues from nature’s perspective. I agree with Locke that men are inclined by the state of nature to come together. Humans are social beings and they would interact freely in a civil society. Furthermore, humans are not perfect, and they come together to fill up their defects and imperfections. Although Hobbes makes a compelling argument that humans come together to seek safety, Locke’s argument on the laws of nature is more convincing. Humans seek fellowship with each other because of the laws of nature. If one person lacks something, another person who has it can supply to others.

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