Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/36

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From God or the Sword?
 

would indicate that its origin is lodged in the complexity of the human being; animals have no State. This line of inquiry led to contradictions and uncertainties, as it had to because the evidence as to man's nature lies in his moral behavior and this is far from uniform. Two men will respond differently to the same exigency, and even one man will not follow a constant pattern of behavior under all circumstances. The problem which the political scientists with the theological turn of mind set for themselves was to find out whether the State owed its origin to the fact that man is inherently "good" or "bad," and on this point there is no positive evidence. Hence the contradictions in their findings.

The three thinkers along these lines with whom we are most familiar, although they had their forerunners, are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. As a starting point for their speculations, the three of them made use of the same hypothesis, that there was a time when men were not politically organized and lived under conditions called a "state of nature." It was pure assumption, of course, since if men ever roamed the face of the earth as thoroughgoing isolationists, having no contact with one another except at the end of a club, they never would have left any evidence of it. There must always have been at least a family organization or we would not be here to talk about a "state of nature."

At any rate, Hobbes maintained that in this pre-political state man was "brutish" and "nasty," ever poised at the property and person of his neighbor. His predatory inclination was motivated by an overweening passion for material plenty. But, says Hobbes, man was from the beginning endowed with the gift of reason, and at some point in his "natural" state his reason told him that he could do better 12