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Contrast Between Hobbes And Rousseau Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau both consider what life would be like outside of society, and in the state of nature. There are major differences in each philosopher's perspective on this topic. The major differences between each of these two philosophers views includes issues regarding human desires, and also the issue of morality. The underlying assumptions that both these philosophers believe in also differ greatly. Hobbes tends to place humans in the state of nature with the ability to reason and understand complex ideas. Rousseau on the other hand explains that humans could not have understood complex ideas, and that humans must have ...view middle of the document...

When people understand and reason, issues such as jealousy contribute to Hobbes' view of the state of war. There are three important things that Hobbes believes are at the root of the state of war. These things are competition between humans, their mistrust that other people are not going to follow through with their contracts, and their reputation. These issues clearly stem from people's unlimited desires, and lead to these problems of war and conflict due to the fact that humans can reason and understand complicated concepts.Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in contrast to Hobbes, believes that there is peace in the state of nature, and that the savage man has only desires that require him to eat and sleep whenever he feels it is necessary to do so. Morality for Rousseau, cannot exist due to the fact that humans desire basic things and act on those desires. People do not understand the concepts of right and wrong, moral and immoral; therefore humans cannot act in either a moral or an immoral way. Rousseau assumes therefore that human beings do not have the knowledge or reason to understand other desires than that of what they biologically need in order to survive. They did not understand these things because language, according to Rousseau, did not exist in the state of nature. He claims that without language, there can be no development of the human race. Humans could not think of new ideas or understand new things without the use of language. He believes that language itself gives meaning and explanation to complex ideas, therefore people can only think in very basic terms and can only understand the simplest of ideas and concepts. "Every animal has ideas, since it has senses; up to a certain point it even combines its ideas, and in this regard man differs from an animal only in degree." Since people do not have a higher level of reason in the state of nature, there does not exist things such as jealousy, inequality, conflict, glory, and many other things that Hobbes would emphasize when discussing his philosophical view. These things clearly cannot exist for Rousseau, considering his assumption that language has not yet been formed therefore, basically nothing exists in the human mind except self-preservation of oneself.The most convincing philosophical view in my opinion is that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Man at the earliest stages of life clearly could not have been able to speak and communicate with each other...

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