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Episteme

Abstract

The classic story told about modern political philosophy paints Hobbes and Locke as contrasting figures who have differing opinions about human psychology. The author of this article rejects such a picture and instead argues that Locke’s state of nature contains features that are strikingly similar to Hobbes’. The author reassesses the supposedly “egoist” Hobbes and the “civil” Locke. It becomes clear that Hobbes’ mechanism and rhetorical bent influence his description of the state of nature—the world without social arrangement. Locke, who is more direct and practical, depicts a state of nature that is actually pre-political and normative. Such differences mask the fact that each philosopher provides a compelling argument for the use of reason in politics—for the practical construction of political bodies. They both advocate a government designed to influence our natural passions and avoid the danger of war.

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