State Of Nature To trigger off any philosophy on what should be the characteristics of the state we must first imagine living in a state of nature (living with the lack of a state). Since we cannot trace back to any time that weve been without government, we must imagine what it would be like in a state of nature. What are people like with the absence of a state? there have been many views in answering this question, therefore there have been many differences in views for what the”ideal” state should be and serve as. A character of a state is described to best remedy for the deficiency of the “State of Nature”, as Hobbes came up with his pessimistic state of nature in which life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Hobbes’ view started off when he stated that the first principle of human behavior was egoism, or self-interest, and it was this egoism, that was the root of all social conflict.
Although Hobbes stated that all people are roughly equal, still, if someone has more, others have less. The insecurity regarding what you can keep leads to violence. “where there are no restraints on peoples actions, it leads to the war of all against all” says Hobbes. So, Hobbes is basically saying, any state is better than the state of nature, be glad that the state is there. Even if it is a corrupt state, you will benefit more from the corrupt state than you would from the State of Nature which is completely lawless.
However, this vision of society which leaves power out of the hands of the people and leads to criticisms from philosophers such as Locke and Rousseau, who counters Hobbes with their own ideas of the “state of nature”. In Locke’s “State of Nature” the “State of Nature” is ordered by the Laws of Nature, including your Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property. If a man works a piece of land and makes it better and more valuable or useful, it becomes his property. This possession can only be freely contracted away to others, and government. Although Locke said that the political society is the result of agreements made between people living in a “State of Nature”, he says that the state must have permission by a person to enforce the law on him, however if you acquire any property which falls under the jurisdiction of the state, you thereby become a tacit member of that state.
Thus, by using the benefits of the state, you have consented to being a member of the state. On a more liberal and appealing philosophy than both Locke and Hobbes, Rousseau maintained that human beings were essentially good and equal in the “State of Nature” but were corrupted by the introduction of property, agriculture, science, and commerce. People entered into a social contract among themselves, establishing governments and educational systems to correct the inequalities brought about by the rise of civilization. All of the differences between Rousseaus theories when compared to Locke and Hobbes, begin with different interpretations of the state of nature. Since Hobbes had the impression that all people were egoists and were only interested in their own good, he figured it would lead to the war of “all against all”, therefore any government was better than the “state of nature”. Locke believed that most people got along pretty well for the most part by rational intuition, but were always a few “bad apples” in the group that forced others to give up their natural rights in a law system in order to be able to punish the exceptions in the society. Rousseau criticizes Hobbes and Locke by saying that they werent really looking at the real “State of Nature”, and that all of the negative qualities of human beings that they had mentioned to be present in the “State of Nature” was in fact, a quality brought on by the state of their time.
The Rousseau version of the “State of Nature” differs greatly from Locke, but from Hobbes especially, in that he makes no mention of the constant fear which Hobbes believed would control mans life in the state of nature, rather he describes the State of Nature as pleasant and peaceful. He described the people in this primitive state as living free, healthy, honest and happy lives, and felt that man was timid, and would always avoid conflict, rather than seek it out. “So why a form of social organization” Rousseau asks? He recognized simply, that it would be impossible for man to shake the society and return to a state of nature. Now for the least popular view of all that just happens to be my favorite, the anarchist view. Even though I cant say it is the best view or it would even work, it is the view that makes me think the most. It is the most optimistic view of all because it simply states that the “State of Nature” would be the best state to live in, a state would not be necessary.
Anarchists view that there are no “rotten apples”. So far as there are “rotten apples” in the society, as Rousseau even suggests, this is a creation of the government. Anarchists propose that governments are a cause of anti-social behavior, even though they are created in order to remedy it. In the anarchists system the anti-social person will be abandoned, in a sense left out of the cooperative society. In the anarchists view, people become perfected because they become cooperative and non-aggressive.
But if there were “bad apples” in a state of anarchism, wouldnt they become a threat to the society if their anti-social behavior lead to violence? (which comes back to Hobbes theory of the State of Nature that would lead to the war of “all against all”) And it leads to even more questions of insecurity like: without coercion or authority would people obey the law or does the threat of punishment work to promote more crime? Would you want to live in a society where there were no punishments for crimes? Maybe public opinion would be enough to keep the society in line.. It is allot to think about and the arguments go around in circles forever just because no system works out to be perfect because, their are arguments for every gap or flaw in every rule or theory. After Ive been corrupted by so many different ideas of the “State of Nature”, Its hard to state my own idea of it without repeating someone else. But anyhow, In the “State of Nature” Id think of people as generally being cooperative, and smart enough to try and keep the peace and order. Sure, people are concerned with their own interests, but they are rational enough to think of ways for reaching their interests without causing conflict with others, after all, keeping the peace with people would be a self interest of mine.
In this case youd ask again, why is government necessary? however, Im not sure I would like to try the anarchists system just because of uncertainties of mine about the “State of Nature”. Weve never been in the “State of Nature” so it would be scary to simply “try it out”.