Human Nature and Society in the Philosophy of John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau


This study focuses on human nature and society in the philosophy of John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau in a comparative perspective. Since it is limited with the debates on the concepts of “human nature” and “society” other elements in the philosophy of two thinkers have not been considered in this study. Each of these philosophers figures out how to achieve a government based on their understanding of human nature and society. The comparison of these two philosophers’ understanding of human nature and society will provide opportunities to understand their whole political system. According to Locke, education can reshape human nature, but he does not believe that human nature can be fundamentally changed through education. Man has been created on the basis of living together with others in a society. Society and its political organization protect man’s life, liberty and property. This is the reason d’etat of the state. Rousseau, on the other hand, does not think that man lives in a society because of his nature or a God-given character. Man, before living in society, has some specific needs. According to him, man has been harmonized to live in a human society in order to achieve his needs. Rousseau believes that man leaves behind whatever is particular to him and he goes to harmonize with the public authority once he reaches to the General Will. However, Locke believes that man’s natural rights are unavoidable and man has right to revolt any government if it abstains man from his rights.


Locke Rousseau human human nature nature society state property