Analysis of Thomas Hobbes' "Laws of Nature" in comparison to Benjamin Constant's Essay "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared to that of the Moderns."

Essay by sportnut93College, UndergraduateB, April 2013

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The thesis of this paper is that Thomas Hobbes' first three "Laws of Nature" explain the evolution of cooperation in a state of nature, and are a prime example of how the modern state can protect an individual. Hobbes' view is that in a state of nature, where there is no system of government or ruling authority, individuals would join into a social contract to protect their peace and security. His first three "Laws of Nature" are what people will seek out before entering that social contract (Hobbes, 71).

His first law is divided into two parts or as he calls them, "branches." The first law is "to seek peace" (Hobbes, 71). The most important thing to an individual is to be protected; therefore, people will seek peace from tyranny and oppression. This leads to the second branch, "to defend ourselves" (Hobbes, 71). While seeking peace, people will protect themselves from harm or harassment.

Over time, people find that when united, these branches are easier to maintain and therefore stronger.

The second law arises from that point. "That we be willing, when others are also, to lay down rights to all things, for the sake of peace" (Hobbes, 71). This law indicates that peace is the most important factor, and all others come second. The goal of peace is why people are willing to work together.

The third law follows the same line of thought. If people are willing to trust others to protect their peace, then they will need "to perform covenants made" (Hobbes, 71). This law shows peoples' willingness to work together and help each other. If they are to trust each other for their protection and security, they need to be able to trust each other to fulfill obligations.

In Benjamin Constant's Essay "The Liberty of...