Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Burke's Views on the Necessity for Revolution

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The seventeenth century was the bridge to the modern age. The people of Europe were passionately split over a myriad of issues – most prominently, religion. The time was, therefore, inevitably a hotbed of civil wars and revolutions. Because of this, the notion of a revolution – when it is needed and to what extent it should go in changing society – was prominent in the works of the political philosophers of the period, namely Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Edmund Burke. The four philosophers lived in chronological order and used the ideas of their predecessors in the formation of their own ones. Each of their beliefs about the legitimacy of revolution is derived from each other’s varying notions of the state of nature, social contract, and the ultimate end of society. Thomas Hobbes, the first philosopher out of the bunch, embodied the time of transformation with his belief that although men are in need of a government with absolute power, they are naturally equal in mind and body. This idea, similar to the time period, bridges the gap between two different philosophies: the idea of an absolute government – common to the preceding time periods, and the idea that all men are created equal – the founding thought for America’s Declaration of Independence. He believed that since all men are equal and share the same hopes and desires, there would exist a continuous state of war among men. He believed that men fear death above anything else, and because of this fear, they would willingly form a social contract between each other to sacrifice all power to a sovereign body. By relinquishing all individual power to this agreed upon government, people are responsible for all actions of this sovereign body and must obey all of its laws. Hobbes, therefore, believed that there is never a need for revolution because by revolting against the

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