A Comparison Of Hobbes Rousse Essay Research

A Comparison Of Hobbes, Rousse Essay, Research Paper

Hobbes state of war is the basis for his philosophical discourse on human nature. Where Rousseau says that man is compassionate and good to others in his nature, Hobbes argues that man is only out for himself.

When the point comes where two men want the same thing, they become enemies of each other. Since men often want the same things, they will try to take whatever they can get from each other. Therefore, any man s possession is not safe as long as someone else wants it. From this comes the constant state of war of everyone wanting what another possesses. With no government instituted every man is against the other with no median in which to protect anyone. Because everyone is against the other in war, there is no right or wrong, or any basis for these. There is no justice or injustice because these come from laws, and there is no government.

Rousseau would then argue that men come to peace and work together instead of against each other because it is good for them, and wouldn t like to see another man hurt. Hobbes says that man comes to an agreement of peace purely on fear. Man realizes that each person has the ability to kill the other, and therefore wants to be protected; so they declare peace to not kill one another. Whereas Rousseau says that man comes to peace because each cares about the next, Hobbes says that it occurs because it is in the best interest of a person for personal gain.

The difference between Rousseau and Hobbes is the factor of sympathy. Rousseau would argue that man would help another man who was injured because he would feel bad and want to help him. Hobbes would say that the only reason a man would help another if he were to get a reward for the deed. If a man is hurt, then one could possibly become hurt in the same way if he helped him, so why should he?

In the same way, Rousseau would say that if a man s neighbor needed food, he would give it to him because he was compassionate for the man and sympathized with him. Hobbes would say that man would be thinking the question in his head, What will I get in return, and is it worth me doing it? If it is not, then man will not help his neighbor and give food. Even acts of kindness such as charity; Hobbes would say that they are done because they make the individual feel good for doing something else, or it allows for others to look upon that person with esteem. Both the former and the latter are personal benefits.

Rousseau believes that in order for peace and order to be in a society, compassion and natural kindness for others are essential. Man has these natural qualities and therefore is able to live in peace. Hobbes argues that man doesn t care that he is living in peace per se, but simply realizes that it is beneficial to him to live in a way that he can benefit from others. War is harmful to the individual, so it is necessary for government to keep order among people for everyone s individual interest. Therefore, since only self-interest is wanted, the natural state of man is war.

Rousseau claims that there are no new forces in man, just old ones, and old ones that change into new ones. If man changes states, for instance, from the state of nature to a civil state, there isn t a change in forces at work among man, but a change in the old force. It is a redirected force because care has changed from the individual to the whole.

When man chooses to become a society, there is a sovereign leader and the rest of society. The whole civil state can be seen as a body that needs each part to work properly and work together. The body can live without it s ear, but it causes problems when it must cut off one of its parts, or when a part conflicts with another. Therefore, for each individual to live as a part of this body, he must redirect his thinking from being purely of his own needs, to those of the group.

An individual, when in the state of nature, bases his actions on personal instinct. These actions are amorally selfish because he has no other reason to act in any other way, but to better himself. He eventually realizes that he must live together with others because it is most beneficial to him and that coincides with his instincts. But upon entering the civil state, he must worry about acting properly in it. To act properly, he must worry about the rights, needs, problems, and attributes of other individuals in order to sustain the rest of the body.

Since man must now worry about everyone else, that is not natural; only self-interest is a natural instinctual thought. Instinct is then replaced with reason in order to cope with the needs of others as well as his own. Reason must try to take into consideration what actions are good for the whole, not just the immediate positive effects onto man himself. But the advantages to the jump into reason are that his faculties are exercised and developed, his ideas broadened, his feelings are ennobled, (and) his entire soul is elevated . (Rousseau 153). Man becomes smarter through reason as he moves away from his state of nature.

As in the state of nature, there was no right or wrong, but simply beneficial to oneself, or harmful. It made man happy if he did the right thing, and unhappy if he did the wrong. Instinct told him to do the right thing. In the body of a civil society, there is no one action that is good for everyone. Therefore, in order to make the best decisions that will make the most amount of people happy, reason must be used. Out of reason comes certain laws and norms that face man when in the presence of a civil state. Things that are considered good for the civil state as a body are considered just, and the inverse is considered unjust.

So reasoning in accordance with justice that produce moral or immoral decisions, has replaced instinct in the state of nature that had produced amoral decisions. Justice is a redirection of instinct, not a new force. The force of the instinct always existed, but it was transformed to become justice through the transition of nature to the civil state. Justice is not natural to man, and so nothing natural is either moral or immoral, or even looked at in those terms. They are simply actions.

Kant believes that man must use his reason to become mature. He says that so many people accept dogmas and beliefs passed down to them from other people, and don t reason for themselves, but simply accept ideas because they seem okay. Similarly, Rousseau says that one must prescribe(d) to oneself (Rousseau 151) in obedience to the law. Rousseau s argument supports that of Kant s because living in accordance to one s own laws means that you live as a mature human being.

It is much easier to accept someone else s idea or belief then to come up with one for oneself. Therefore it takes courage to get rid of dogmas and doubt all of one s beliefs and build up one s own ideas from them. It is also hard to break down ideas and come up with personal beliefs. It may turn out that a person comes up with the same idea that he started out with, they are two separate things, even though seemingly the same. The former idea as dogma is just any idea; no dogma means more than another. The latter evaluation of the idea is a belief that becomes an argument with backing. It takes courage for one to doubt one s beliefs, but also if the new idea contradicts the norm, it takes courage to stick with it.

Rousseau says that one must prescribe the law for himself. In this he means that one must use his acquired reason to make laws and morals for himself, similarly to how Kant described it. Reason should be well developed and put into use by forming strong beliefs. These beliefs can shape a person, and a person should live by them at all times. The ability to live by one s own beliefs is similar to when Kant talks about courage.

Both men clearly state that beliefs should be determined on an individual basis with no help from anyone else. Once a belief system is obtained, Kant calls it being mature, and Rousseau calls it obedience of one s own law. Kant simply means that one is not using his full capabilities as a grown person if they allow themselves to remain in the dark. Therefore, they become a mature adult when they can come to these ideas. Rousseau visualizes a value and belief system being set up by the person, and then it should be followed with strict obedience.

So Rousseau s sovereignty supports Kant s idea of the Enlightenment. Rousseau is speaking in terms of sovereignty in being able to rule oneself, while Kant is talking about the same thing in a different way: Kant just says that once enlightened, a person is whole, and is able to stand on his own. It may be a safe statement to say that not only does Rousseau support Kant s idea of enlightenment, but that he also has a very similar idea stated differently. Both are based on maturity of knowing oneself, one s beliefs, and using reason as the tool in which to gain this knowledge.


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