Human Nature Run Amok or 3 Philosophers in a Room
Rousseau: Where is Robert?
Hobbes: I did not think it wise to have one more participant for all too easy the war of all against all ensues.
Locke: Who gave you the authority?
Hobbes: As I recall, did you not formulate a theory of tacit consent, wherein one consents by making use of the benefits the state, the sovereign provides? Have you or have you not benefitted from me eliminating one of the contestants? You see, even if I heeded your argument I would be justified to make such a decision.
Locke: I am naturally bound in the state of nature and remain so, till by my own consent I make myself member of a state. I do not accept your authority, for I never gave you my consent: I do not think I have gained any benefits from your government.
Rousseau: But you have John, whether you realise or not you have gained relevantly. Thomas may have assumed power unjustly, but his argument is sound. Indeed, you are free to leave, nothing necessitates you being here, no violence will detain you in this state against your will, and your dwelling here by itself implies your consent to the contract.
Hobbes: Thank you Jean-Jacques, yet I did not need you to reaffirm my position, for I have assumed the role of the sovereign and no man can reasonably refute me, without bearing in mind what cost it would inevitably bring about. For without the state, the sovereign, there would be no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. I have seen it happen; I will not let it happen again.
Locke: The state of nature and the state of war, which you have confounded, are as far distant as a state of peace, good will, mutual assistance, and preservation and a state of enmity, malice, violence, and mutual destruction are from one another.
Hobbes: To you the, even in the absence of government life is acceptable? Do you not see that resources are scarce and even the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others. No one man is invulnerable to attack, whatever I possess, others may desire.
Locke: The state of nature is a state of liberty, yet not a state of licence. It has a law to govern it, which obliges everyone. Everyone is bound to preserve himself, I agree, yet by the like reason when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind.
Hobbes: Still fear and suspicion may be enough for the state of nature to tumble into war. Furthermore a law needs an enforcer, who if not a sovereign can enforce it?
Locke: He who offends another’s life, liberty, or property is to be punished; everyone possesses the right to punish.
Hobbes: Without a single, stable authority the offenders could easily avenge themselves, a powerful disincentive, is it not?
Locke: However such disputes would be rare, for resources are only scarce due to greed and money, initially land would be abundant. It is only later on that inconveniences multiply and that it becomes imperative to establish civil government.
Rousseau: Constantly dwelling on wants, avidity, oppression, desires, and pride, you have transferred to the state of nature ideas which were acquired in society, so that, in speaking of the savage, you described the social man.
Rousseau: Infant man, wandering up and down the forests, the savage, an equal stranger to war and to all ties, inhabits the state of nature. The savage, in his solitude is happy. What led us to war, however, exists already: it is the gift of self-improvement.
Hobbes: Interesting that it is this gift that will lead us to the state of war.
Rousseau: Indeed man would start to create corrupted needs, having them is of little value, but losing them is devastating. And then there came property and with it jealousy, inequality and slavery of the poor – a state of war no doubt. Hence societies are born: The rich man, thus urged, conceived at length the profoundest plan that ever entered the mind of man: this was to employ in his favour the forces of those who attacked him.
Hobbes: Again, the emergence of the state is taken to be a response to a situation of war.
Locke, Rousseau: Indeed.