Hobbes Vs. Rousseau: Dueling Visions of Society

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 527 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 527|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion


Throughout history, political philosophers have debated the nature of human beings and the best form of government to govern them. Two prominent figures in this debate are Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Both philosophers offer contrasting views on human nature and the role of government. This essay will delve into the arguments put forth by Hobbes and Rousseau, analyzing their perspectives on the state of nature, social contract theory, and the ideal form of government.

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Thomas Hobbes, a 17th-century English philosopher, posited a pessimistic view of human nature in his seminal work "Leviathan." According to Hobbes, humans in their natural state are driven by self-preservation and the pursuit of their own interests. In the absence of government, individuals exist in a chaotic "state of nature" where life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

Hobbes believed that to escape the brutality of the state of nature, individuals enter into a social contract with each other, surrendering some of their freedoms to a central authority in exchange for protection and security. This central authority, in the form of an absolute monarchy or a strong government, is necessary to maintain order and prevent the descent into anarchy.

In contrast to Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an 18th-century French philosopher, had a more optimistic view of human nature. In his work "The Social Contract," Rousseau argued that humans are inherently good in their natural state but are corrupted by society and its institutions. He believed that in the state of nature, individuals are peaceful and cooperative, guided by a sense of compassion and empathy.

According to Rousseau, the social contract should be based on the general will of the people, representing the common good of society as a whole. He advocated for a form of direct democracy in which individuals participate in the decision-making process and have a say in how they are governed. Rousseau rejected the idea of absolute monarchy and instead proposed a decentralized form of government that respects the sovereignty of the people.

The debate between Hobbes and Rousseau revolves around their differing perspectives on human nature and the role of government. Hobbes's view reflects a more cynical outlook on humanity, seeing individuals as self-interested and in need of a strong central authority to maintain order. On the other hand, Rousseau's view is more optimistic, emphasizing the innate goodness of individuals and the importance of collective decision-making.

While Hobbes's argument for a strong, centralized government may seem more practical in a world characterized by conflict and competition, Rousseau's emphasis on the general will and participatory democracy offers a compelling alternative. By involving citizens in the decision-making process, Rousseau's model of government promotes accountability and ensures that the interests of the people are represented.

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In conclusion, the debate between Hobbes and Rousseau highlights the ongoing discussion about human nature and the best form of government to govern society. While Hobbes emphasizes the need for a strong central authority to maintain order, Rousseau advocates for a more decentralized and participatory form of government based on the general will of the people. Ultimately, the arguments put forth by these two philosophers offer valuable insights into the complexities of governance and the delicate balance between individual freedom and social order.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Hobbes vs. Rousseau: Dueling Visions of Society. (2024, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“Hobbes vs. Rousseau: Dueling Visions of Society.” GradesFixer, 06 Mar. 2024,
Hobbes vs. Rousseau: Dueling Visions of Society. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
Hobbes vs. Rousseau: Dueling Visions of Society [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 06 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from:
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