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SUPERTHREAD: True Nature Of Man

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posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:12 AM
Premise: In an era where peace talks are had by the same men that wage war without reason, one is obligated to stop and assess the true nature of man. Since the dawn of mankind, humans have always been at war with each other, and with themselves. They have built the greatest empires on the backbones of their opposition but they have also built equally as great civilizations through more peaceful forums and alternatives.

In the attempt to categorize human motif, many philosophers have taken critical stances and made insightful observations into the behaviour of man. Two such philosophers, social contract theorists, and natural law theorists, are Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. This is however, where their comparisons end. Hobbes views humanity as being “selfish, violent and predisposed to using force and fraud to get what they want” (Hobbes, 1651). Locke however, viewed humanity in stark contrast to Hobbes, citing that they are “given to living peacefully with each other and cooperating to assist one another” (Olivo, 2006).

There is arguably no one way to categorize or make a general observation on man, for there are many facets affecting his behaviour, both nature and nurture related. I believe that the majority of Canadians would agree that at one point, Hobbes’s was more accurate and logical during the English Civil War under the context of the nature of the war, when he formulated them, but in present day, Locke’s view is more dominant in logic because of socialization factors inherent in the history and development of our civilization.

Earlier in the development of this article, I was predisposed to believe what I thought Canadians believe; that this view was indeed the right portrait of mankind, but I found my view overly skewed for two critical reasons: (1) I, and all Canadians alike, are living in the better half of the world, or rather quarter of the world, where people do not fight to live (or live to fight), and (2) humans have spent the longer half of their history at war with one another, leading me to reassess this article. The collective wisdom of Hobbes and Locke may provide a more substantial and logical step in the pursuit of knowledge on human behaviour and the reason behind the Social Contract. I have taken a large liberty in narrowing down both theories of thought, to focus on three main issues that will conclude which philosopher was more accurate on their theory of the Social Contract. These include man’s state of conflict and man’s state in nature, the role of the state, and the rights of man.

Nature versus Conflict: To understand Locke and Hobbes’ view on the Social Contract, we must first look at what man is naturally, without the context of civilization. Under this context, the term conflict actually means war, so this would attempt to define man’s natural state, and his state of war.

In Hobbes’s view, as stated in the Leviathan, man is not naturally good, Hobbes claimed, but naturally a selfish hedonist, "of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself". Hobbes tried to envision what society would be like in a “state of nature” before any civil state or rule of law. He concluded that life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, a “war of every man against every man” (Hobbes, 1651). Hobbes therefore, advocated that man’s natural state was a state of conflict, of war, and that the concept of good and evil was subjective to each man, therefore there can never really exist to concept of peace, because the concept of peace is merely war by other means to another man (Hobbes, 1651). Hobbes view of the Social Contract and the forming of societies therefore was because man was in continual fear of himself and the individuals around him. This coupled with his theory that man feared the danger of a “violent death” led him to believe that an authoritarian style government, preferably a monarchy, was desired by the people. This ultimately socialized man into a moral and just being that is not natural to him and without a government that sets down punishable laws, he reverts back to living a natural life of conflict.

Locke, on the other hand states in his Second Treatise that there is a difference between man in the state of nature and man in the state of conflict. He states, unlike Hobbes, the two are not the same, and the state of nature involves “people living together, governed by reason, without a common superior, whereas the state of war occurs when people make designs of force upon other people, without a common authority. In this case, the attacked party has a right to war. Want of a common judge or authority is the defining characteristic of the state of nature; force without right is adequate basis for the state of war” (Locke, 1690). Locke’s view on the Social Contract was that it relieved humans from being in a state of conflict, for the state would be the mediator between the individual people to settle their dispute. Locke stated that man’s preferable choice of government was a judge, and not an authoritarian style monarch like Hobbes viewed, because this would keep it impartial and at a distance into the lives of the people, to leave them to live in the state of nature, without having the separate state of conflict.

In essence, neither Hobbes nor Locke may be right here. In fact, both may have just made observations on socializing effects that society has on man. Man may not be good or evil, but may develop one way or another due to the different relationships he encounters throughout his life. Locke may be more accurate on man being a social creature, unlike Hobbes who stated that man is not social at all, because in either case, he had to have interacted with others to come up with the beginnings of the Social Contract. Locke’s view of man’s natural state being separate from his state of war may be wrong for the soul purpose that man has been at war since the dawn of his existence, and that war gives man purpose (Macpherson, 1962). Hobbes was right in saying that man in nature is the same is man in war because war gave man nature; it was the most primordial instinct that he developed. With the development of society came the development self-fulfilling activities such as religion and careers, giving man an alternative purpose that steered him away from his natural self.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:14 AM
The Role of the State: There is no doubt that with the evolution of governments, the most outstanding ones are Lockean in nature, democracies state that “we obey, only so long as a majority of us consent to the law making process and to the laws made under the same process” (Olivo, 2006). Or are they? Although the prominent governments of today have Lockean concepts, they are not the judges that Locke had originally had in mind. Although the government is not an absolute monarch as Hobbes recommended, its role in the lives of today’s citizen is continuously breaking the rules of the Lockean Social Contract. For example, with reference to the CRA and tax disputes, the state acts as a judge in its own cause, violating Locke’s view that we have “impartial justice and impartial protection to our property.” Indeed the state is not a judge, but more of a master as initially stated by Hobbes.

Locke viewed that we have a right to overthrow such governments that act as both judge and participant in disputes, because they put themselves at a state of war with their citizens. Hobbes viewed that good and evil is subjective to each man, and so a master of the state defines what is good and evil and that man has no right to rebel if it is not defined as right to the state. This view of the role of the state may not make Hobbes more logical, but it does make him more accurate, because states as large and intrusive those developed today cannot exist without violating Locke’s Social Contract.

The Rights of Man: The right of man was developed in the Social Contract to define the limit of the power of the state, and of the power of man onto others. To Hobbes, humans realized their shared vulnerability to suffering and with this created the rights of man under the social contract. To Locke, man has already instilled within himself the rights of man because of his nature, and only entered into civil society only to make life easier yet, preserving his interests and defining clauses of what to do when rights are broken (Olivo, 2006). Hobbes believed that civil society is “the application of force by a state to uphold contracts and so forth. Civil society therefore, is a creation of the state” (Macpherson, 1962). Therefore the rights of man can only exist with the state, unlike Locke who implies that without the state, the rights of man is a contract already entered into mutual agreement with each man for the most part.

I believe that again, Hobbes has a legitimate backing and firmer hold on the logic of human behaviour because, historically speaking, the State has had the power to take away rights of man as seen in the Third Reich, and when the state does not exist, man reverts to a state, constant to that of war. As seen in places in parts of the world where government is less prominent, such as part of Africa and the Middle East, chaos arises. I believe that more organization brings about less anarchy, but I do not advocate an absolutist government like Hobbes proposed. An absolutist government like North Korea’s is consistent with Hobbes’s theory and does have citizens in line, but it does not coincide with the rights of man.

The Social Contract Theory: As I had initially stated, the collective wisdom of Hobbes and Locke may provide a more substantial and logical step in the pursuit of knowledge on human behaviour and the reason behind the Social Contract. There can be no definitive right or wrong in all three concepts: the man’s state of conflict and man’s state in nature, the role of the state, and the rights of man. I believe that Hobbes was right about man’s initial state of nature, about the role of the state to man, but I disagreed with an absolute monarchy, and I cited that Locke’s view of a judge type of government with less influence into our life was in more interest of the people. Lastly, I believe that Hobbes was right on the Rights of Man and that they are not developed naturally for most of us as Locke put it.

According to Hobbes, what is right and what is wrong is subjective, so although I have provided evidence into whose theory was more substantial in each area of the Social Contract, it ultimately resides in the reader to develop their own basis on which theorist was more accurate in their portrayal of the Social Contract Theory.


Hobbes, T (1651). Leviathan. London, UK: Penguin Books.
Locke, J (1690). The Second Treatise on the Civil Government. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
Macpherson, C (1962). The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Olivo , L (2006). Introduction to Law in Canada. Toronto, ON: Captus Press.

[edit on 06/17/08 by narin]

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:15 AM
This hasn't anything to do with neither aliens, or UFOs. And it sounds like it;s been ripped off from a book anyways; wrong forum methinks.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:35 AM
Its all original, and I dont know how to switch the forum. Read it please if you're going to comment. I don't write for no reason.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:40 AM
Why do you deem all of your threads 'superthreads' as if your threads are more important than any other thread on ATS. Its like if I called my comment to your thread a "super comment"...a comment above all others.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:44 AM
reply to post by narin

a lot to think through - and nicely written

but I agree - you're in the wrong forum

you'll find your people - people who will eat this up - in another area

I don't know how you can switch it either - maybe a Mod can help?

also - meant tell you earlier - your blue Buddha - really nice

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:49 AM

Originally posted by Mad_Hatter
Why do you deem all of your threads 'superthreads' as if your threads are more important than any other thread on ATS. Its like if I called my comment to your thread a "super comment"...a comment above all others.

It's sort of a brand I'm creating on ATS. I'm going to start sticking to really long, deep threads. Like trips of sorts...into dormant concepts that I believe should be adressed

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:59 AM
reply to post by narin

Then for what reason have you posted - how about providing some specific discussion points? I'll be back in a few days, look forward to discussion as this is right up my alley

(edit: yeh the superthread thing is a bit douchey, just prefix your posts with Narin:
You'll catch less fish, but they'll be a lot tastier)

[edit on 2-7-2008 by Shar_Chi]

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 10:00 AM

I don't think these long drawn-out posts are going to garner much attention around here.

I also think your super thread "brand" will only irritate people.

Sorry, don't mean to rain on your parade.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 10:25 AM
I'm only vaguely familiar with the two, but from what you stated, and what I am...

I would say Locke was pretty much correct.

Hobbes seems miserably bitter and nihilistic.

From my experience, I have grown up in a society where the status quo encourages you to be competitive and defensive always... yet I feel like I should have to be none of these things. I feel pleasant, loving, and peaceful towards others, all on my own (even with all there has been to be defensive and competitive about), and I would love it if we could all work together for the right reasons... but those reasons are not being provided by our social leadership at all.

Either Hobbes was miserably nihilistic, or he was an elitist shill.

[edit on 2-7-2008 by dunwichwitch]

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 10:57 AM
I don't really like either of them or really care what they think or perceive to know about certain things.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:11 AM
Holy crap the first few posts are full of bickering and people who are wannabe moderators. This right here is the example of the True Nature Of Man.

Everyone wants to be the authority, everyone wants to be in control. Man has a serious problem with wanting "dominance". Much like in the wild kingdom, the males are always trying to "0ne up" each other, trying to show who is boss with their imaginary swords.

I can sum up the entire nature of man in 0ne paragraph:

Man doesn't trust. Man wants dominance. Man wants power. Man wants control. Man starts wars with countries like Iran for example, because man doesn't trust his own safety. Man wants to dominate all others because man wants things to go his own way, and no other way. Man wants power so that man can get what he wants, and man only wants control.

The end.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:24 AM
reply to post by nyk537

Supremo/Most excellent comment.

One doesn't create a superthread. A thread becomes a superthread when it garners a certain amount of attention, replies, and pages. But I haven't found anything, except the common courtesy of the membership, that prohibits anyone from calling their thread a superthread.

OP has presented an excellent read with referenced sources. It would be interesting to see an in depth debate reagarding Locke v. Hobbes.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:28 AM
I only read the first post I'm afraid, but here's my comment on that...

I know by "Man" you mean "human", although, personally, I think these theories ARE based soley on males, they were written with males in mind... in which case, how could either be plausable, when half of the population (the women) aren't mentioned? Maybe you should write another for females and then combine the two. We are very different creatures.

Also; to theorise the "true nature of man" you have to discover what "normal" is before you can find what "not normal" is, and "normal" is just relative. Generalising is what I like least about such theories.

I hope that all makes sense

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 12:41 PM
theres a reason you cannot distuingish alien women from men. showing your sexes are considered a stress in the animal/plant kingdom. therefore it would be good for our race if we stopped stressing sexes so much...we might progress a little faster. although, i dont look forward to the day my mate resembles me :/

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