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Difference Between Locke and Hobbes

Locke vs Hobbes

John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were known as social contract theorists and natural law theorists, too. However, they are both completely different in terms of their stand and conclusions in several laws of nature. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher from Malmesbury. He became famous when his book, “Leviathan,” created the foundation of the political philosophy from the West. Hobbes was able to garner several recognitions. He was the champion of absolutism for the sovereign. Not only that, he greatly contributed in different subjects. These would include ethics, geometry, and physics of gases, theology, and even political science.

John Locke, on the other hand, was coined as the father of liberalism. He was one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and proved to be a great English philosopher and physician. What is more is that he is one of the first few empiricists in Britain. He even greatly contributed in the American Declaration of Independence focusing on the classical republicanism and liberal theory. John Locke was able to study in a prestigious institution in London named Westminster School. Once he was able to finish his studies, he was then accepted to Christ Church, Oxford. However, he wasn’t pleased with the undergraduate curriculum at that time. He was more into the works of Rene Descartes rather than the curriculum given in the university. He was also introduced to medicine and was able to get a bachelor’s degree in medicine at Oxford.

The education of Thomas Hobbes was different. He studied at Westport Church when he was four years old. From there he was able to get into the Malmesbury School and even got the chance to get into a private school kept by Robert Latimer. His scholastic records were impressive so he went up to Magdalen Hall, closely connected to Hertford College, Oxford. Hobbes wasn’t very interested in scholastic learning so he decided to have his own curriculum. It wasn’t until 1608 that he managed to get his bachelor’s degree.

Both individuals have different stands on issues. Take, for example, the issue on human nature. According to Locke, he thinks that man is by nature a social animal. Yet Hobbes thinks otherwise. He doesn’t consider man as a social animal. He thinks that a society would not even exist.

On the issue about the state of nature, Locke believes that in the state of nature men usually are true to their word and even do their obligations. Despite the insecurities, it would be more pleasant, great, and quiet. He used the American frontier and Soldania as his examples of individuals in the state of nature. They have greatly showed that peace and property rights co-exist harmoniously. People would be in the state of nature where it is socially acceptable to one’s self to punish the shortcomings of one against you. Even though there are places and times that violent conflicts arise, it is usually ended in a peaceful manner. As for Hobbes, he made his stand clear on the state of nature in a brief statement. He said that there’s no society that has no continual fear and danger of a violent death. The life of man would be poor, brutal, short, and nasty.

The social contract is different for both Locke and Hobbes. Locke believes that we keep hold of the right of life and obtain the right to just and impartial protection of our property. Any violation of the social contract would put him in the state of war with his fellow countrymen. Hobbes believes that if you just do what you are simply told, you are safe. You won’t be violating the social contract because you don’t have the right to rebel.


1. Locke and Hobbes were both social contract theorists and natural law theorists.
2. Both have different educational backgrounds. Hobbes was a known English philosopher from Malmesbury. On the other hand, Locke was a known doctor from Oxford University.
3. On human nature, Locke thinks that man is a social animal by nature. Hobbes thinks that man isn’t a social animal.
4. On the state of nature, Locke believes man is true to his obligations and words. Hobbes believes that the life of a man would be poor and brutal in a society with continuous fear and danger.
5. On the social contract, Locke believes that man has the right to life and has the right to just and impartial protection. Hobbes simply believes that if man simply does what he is told, he is safe.

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