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Rousseau and Hobbes

Uploaded by cicp82 on Jun 15, 2002

Rousseau and Hobbes each had philosophies, but they differed. Their philosophies can be related to and proven by the story Billy Budd, by Herman Melville. Certain characters in this story exemplify the characteristics related with the philosophies of both philosophers.

Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher who lived from 1712 to 1778. He thought humans were naturally good, but are corrupted by society, and therefore humans should not be in society, but in small groups in nature. This relates to Billy Budd because Billy Budd was naturally good, but he was “corrupted” by society (mostly Claggart) and committed evil deeds. Verre also is a good person, and is not corrupted by society, but influenced by it. Verre did not turn bad, but he had to follow the laws of society, and go against his feelings, which in this case were good, and the law was bad. Now Verre has done something bad because of society and its laws. Those are some examples of how society can turn a naturally good human into a human who does bad things.

Hobbes was an English philosopher who thought humans were naturally bad but the laws of society kept them in order. This could be true for some people, but not for all. Claggart, for example, was a bad person, naturally evil, but followed the laws and rules society made which kept him in order. Claggart followed the laws on he ship, but was indeed evil. He played tricks with Billy Budd’s head, and lied to get him in trouble. These deeds showed that Claggart was a bad person, but he did not do outrageously bad things because of the laws society made, and the consequences that came with breaking those laws. That is how evil people survive in society.

I think Melville thought people can be both good and bad, and society can corrupt them or keep them in order. I think this because of the characters Melville put in his story, and the things they did. Billy was a good person who was shoddily influenced by society. Claggart was a naturally bad person who was kept in line by the laws society made. I think Verre was a good person. He corrected the bad, and promoted the good. In this case he was a judging human who was on a higher level in society. So in this story, there are the good, the...

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Uploaded by:   cicp82

Date:   06/15/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (412 words)

Views:   1528

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