Locke’s and Hobbes’ Views on Human Nature

Human nature and essence is a philosophical concept that denotes the vital characteristics that determine an individual and are fundamental to all other forms and genera of being. Philosophy, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and theology study and interpret human nature at different levels of generalization. There are distinct approaches to understanding the individual, and the philosophical concepts of Locke and Hobbes are an opportunity to comprehend the differences and their essence.

Hobbes’s view of human nature is ambiguous and has numerous critics and supporters. According to Hobbes, human beings have inherent properties of a different kind, such as a drive to find a way out of such a poor nature (Vaughn, 2013). Firstly, the fear of death and the instinct of self-preservation dominate the other passions. Along with them comes genuine sense and everyone’s ability to reason sensibly about their actions’ positive and negative consequences. The instinct of self-preservation gives the first impetus to overcoming the natural state, and reasoning tells people under what conditions they can carry out this process (Vaughn, 2013). The primary, most fundamental natural law, according to Hobbes, states that it is necessary to strive for peace and follow it. Everything else must be operated merely as a means of relaxation.

Unlike Hobbes, Locke takes the position of those social groups who had finally secured guaranteed participation in the government of society. Locke proves that there are not and cannot be any innate ideas and notions in the individual’s mind and that the human soul is a tabula rasa (Vaughn, 2013). From this fundamental principle, the entire Lockean philosophical teaching directly deduces the extreme importance, necessity, and destiny of the education process for each individual. Furthermore, for personal emancipation in his doctrine, a philosopher is gradually abandoning the form of religiosity and the doctrinal practices in which he was raised in his family and the Puritan environment (Vaughn, 2013). Direct adherence to Hobbes did not prevent Locke from criticizing his predecessor, whose method he borrowed though his theory did not accept. Locke achieves this by increasing the logical abstractness of the model. Man in the natural state has unlimited freedom to dispose of one’s person and property.

However, unlike Hobbes, Locke believes that the individual is governed by the law of nature, reason, which teaches all men not to harm the life, health, liberty, or property of others. Locke’s thought is more rational as he removes from Hobbes’s state of nature its chief characteristic — war of all against all. Locke takes the theoretical position of sensualism: the perception of the emotional sphere through the senses, seeing them as the leading source and primary form of any objective and reliable knowledge (Vaughn, 2013). Moreover, external experience, he considers internal expertise, which is an integral part of the activity of the reasoning mechanisms and receptors. From Lockean sensationalism, the truth lies not in the reflection of objective reality in the individual’s mind but the harmonization and reconciliation of various fundamental concepts and commonplace perceptions with one another (Vaughn, 2013). It is this approach that is more balanced and much more accurately describes the characteristics of the individual.

The issue of human nature is the second fundamental component of the subject of philosophy. It involves questions about a man’s essence, place, and role in the world. Approaches to comprehending this phenomenon are entirely distinct. It is particularly noticeable when considering the ideas of Hobbes and Locke and their understanding of the war of the individual against everyone. Philosophers interpret human nature differently, and each person can choose to favor a concept that reflects their understanding more closely.


Vaughn, L. (2013). The philosophy here and now: Powerful ideas in everyday life (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

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AssignZen. 2023. "Locke's and Hobbes' Views on Human Nature." September 20, 2023. https://assignzen.com/lockes-and-hobbes-views-on-human-nature/.


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