this necessity and how both philosophers arrived at this conclusion. Although both authorsconsented to the opinion of the
‘state of nature’
as a historical reality, it is primarily used as aconceptual device to scrutinize the fundamental essence of mankind and consequentlyillustrates each
philosopher’s understanding of human nature. I will discuss how both authors
have used their respective accounts of pre-civil society to support their central theory of theworld and the essence of the individual. This essay intends to establish the viability of
political society under each of the theorist’s recommendations
and critically evaluates theimplications of their differing accounts of un-socialized man on the likelihood of organizedpolitical society.
The fundamental distinction between Hobbes and Rousseau’s account of the
state of nature is evident in their opposing
views on the consequences of man’
s natural equality. ForRousseau, natural equality is sustainable in so far as it is consistent with a fundamentallypeaceful and uncompetitive natural condition for man (1913, pg 179). The gradualsocialisation of man encouraged the recognition of relative advantages between individualsand it was this recognition that facilitated the transformation of natural distinctions intopolitical inequalities
, ‘ the fundamental compact substitutes, for such physical inequality as
nature may have set up between men, an equality t
hat is moral and legitimate’
(SocialContract, pg 199). This transformation occurred when the need to establish ownership overproperty necessitated the organization of political society. Rousseau essentially placesmankind within the animal system, depicting the natural condition as a past reality andconceiving of man as an animal living in isolation; thus reconciling the issue of maintainingharmony in an apolitical society by eliminating any notion of competition for resources(Masters, 1972). The
central issue for the rest of Rousseau’s political writings then becamereconciling this need for governance with man’s claim to freedom , ‘ the essence of the body politic lies in the reconciliation of obedience and liberty’ (1913, pg 80).