The old age question throughout our lifetime that never seemed to be fully answered without creating doubt is “Who are we?” That question alone to me, means so much. “WHO” are we…are we a body and soul or are we a soul in this body? Why do some souls seem so bad and others so kind? What determines that? All these questions are valid and unanswered. While great thinkers have attempted to answer them and they may be fully convinced of their belief, not all of us are. We are often left in the middle to decide between two ideas of “what is” and “who is” and which makes more sense to us. Two great thinkers that have two different view points on the matter are Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Thomas Hobbes was born in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He was the son of a poor clergyman. He was one of the greatest English political thinkers with a very conservative view on human nature. Hobbes believed that he was a psychological egoist, someone in which it was their nature to be selfish. According to him, it was in our nature, as humans, to be selfish. In turn everything we do, even though it may seem we are doing an act of selfless value, we are not. At heart we always have ourselves at interest. For example, it is stated that Hobbes was once giving alms to a beggar, this may seem as an act of selfless interest, but Hobbes explained that the beggars distress caused HIM such distress that by giving the beggar alms he was relieving his OWN distress. According to Hobbes, humans are guided by two principles: to harm others and to satisfy their own needs. As he explains in his book “Leviathan”, written during the English Civil Wars (1642-1652). This means that even though each human being may be different, some stronger or smarter than others, we all have the ability to harm or even kill one another. In this sense, he believed, all humans are equal.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Calvinist Geneva, Switzerland. He was the son of a sentimental watchmaker. Rousseau’s...
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