Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau are three brilliant philosophers with different understanding and opinions of human nature. These men believe humans behave in a certain way when left to function with out authority. They call this “State of Nature.” Institutions of government have been around for thousands of years and there are no solid records of life before civilization and authority, which is why each philosopher’s theory can be accepted. No one is technically wrong, and no one is more right than the other. There is no proof so each “State of Nature” is valid. However, because of my competitive nature, this really bothers me. Why can’t someone be right. Where is the winner? Since learning of these men I have been fascinated to find out whose “state of nature” makes the most sense. My search began with an analysis of a question purposed in my English class: Why is the Divorce Rate so High?
In my English class, we are trying to answer troubling questions through analysis and close reading of several articles. I know very little about the institution of marriage and because of its interesting complexities, I figured the best way to learn about it, is to figure out why it fails. I was brought to an article, “Why Is The Divorce Rate So High,” which was written by a divorce expert, Cathy Meyer. She outlines several key issues that result in divorce. We are a nation full of independent, stubborn, defensive and naive people. Naturally we are people that are afraid to ask for help. We want to solve our own problems and work through our own issues. It’s the primitive instinct of independence that cripples us. We do things for our own well being. It’s not because we are self interested or selfish. It is just our nature. We know how to exist on our own and we almost prefer it. The feeling you get that you need someone or you need to marry someone, may just come from the instinctive desire to reproduce. Maybe the divorce rate is so high (over 50% of marriages fail) because we are naturally trying to go back to the state of nature that Jean-Jacques Rousseau theorized.
This is a very depressing thought because we are surrounded with movies and songs that glamorize love and marriage and tell us love is the meaning of life. But perhaps this idea of natural independence is true. In Rousseau’s State of Nature, we are independent, happy, and satisfied. Rousseau believes, as I am beginning to as well, that it was a tragic mistake when we moved out of the state of nature. It was a mistake to form civilization and start depending on one another. We have hierarchies and problems with inequality now that weren’t here before. Rousseau believed the only time we were supposed to come together was when you needed to reproduce. Other than that, we are supposed to be independent. We were never meant to live with one person for forever. It’s not in our nature. This is making me think that more and more marriages are failing because we are instinctively trying to go back to the good old days.
Hobbes and Locke are similar in that they want to escape the state of nature. There is a lot of fighting and violence without authority which is why we need authority figures to solve our issues for us. But why are we fighting in the first place? We are fighting because there is interaction and dependence. If there no interaction, just independence, like Rousseau’s state of nature, there would be no fighting and no need for authority. We could have lived happily if we stayed Rousseau’s state of nature but tragedy stuck us and some force made us come together to ruin the utopia. It’s hard to imagine leaving now, and Rousseau understands this. You can’t go back to the state of nature; we are stuck and we have to deal with the hardships that come with civilization. But if we never left, and it was the only thing we knew, maybe it was better than what we have now.
Perhaps if we stayed in Rousseau’s state of nature, I wouldn’t have had to go through the hard ache of watching my own mom and dad separate. I still want to get married and have a family but what if we are not supposed to?