What is the State of Nature, What Does It Mean?June 27, 2021
In the Second Essay on Government, Locke, like Hobbes, begins his political theory with a description of the natural state.
Accordingly, the state of nature is not a “war of all against all” as Hobbes suggests, but a state of freedom, but there is also a natural law governing this state. This law is the law of reason and teaches that man is equal and independent on earth, and that no one should harm another’s life, health, freedom and achievements.
Humans are naturally capable of discovering the ethical and sacred law and acting accordingly. One can defend oneself against attacks and punish aggressors based on personal decision, but this arises from the right to protect one’s life and freedom. Man performs this action in accordance with the natural moral law, without seeing himself as a permanent judge. In the state of nature envisaged by Locke, the value of the individual, his right and freedom to life as a creature of God, is perceived and accepted by all people as a law of reason; In that case, the law of nature, whose essence is moral and divine, announces people’s natural rights and duties to them as the voice of reason. According to Locke, the natural rights of human beings are the right to self-preservation and defense, the right to be free and the right to property.
The birthrights of people are self-preservation, defense of life, freedom and property.
According to Locke, since the primary natural right is the right to self-preservation and life, he also has the right to the things necessary for this purpose. God has given people the land and everything that will enable them to live. Therefore, it is in accordance with God’s will that people have private property in terms of the land itself, if not in terms of the things on it and in it. It is labor that constitutes the primary right to private property; In the state of nature a man’s labor is his own, and “everything that he has removed from his original state by mixing his labor also becomes his.” For example, when the fruit is on the tree, it is everyone’s, but the fruit that is collected belongs to the one who collects it. Because he added his labor to them and removed them from the status of common property.
This is also the case with the soil: If a person cuts and cleans the trees in the grove and plows the open area, and then sows seeds there, that soil and the product to be obtained are his. Because he put his effort into this work. Of course, this description is valid for the state of nature. In the case of civil society, the regulation of private property and labor is regulated and protected under different conditions and according to the laws of citizenship. According to Locke, man is born with two rights: the first is a right to freedom to his own existence, and the second is the right to inherit his father’s estates with his brothers. Because in the state of nature the family is a natural society and fathers have a duty to provide for their children.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook