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Darwin-L Message Log 3:107 (November 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<3:107>From RICHARDS@UCBEH.SAN.UC.EDU  Tue Nov 30 10:57:25 1993

Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1993 12:00:08 -0500 (EST)
From: "Bob Richardson, University of Cincinnati" <RICHARDS@UCBEH.SAN.UC.EDU>
Subject: Re: hist of archaeology
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

I have obviously missed something in my reading, but M. Kenny writes:

>I can't speak for Locke, but in the pages just after his infamous "cruel,
>brutish, and short" comment about the quality of life in the State of
>Nature, Thomas Hobbes refers to the natives of America as an example of
>just that condition (not, however, specifying which peoples he was thinking
>of). His other example of this deplorable condition is that of otherwise
>civilized  peoples who have fallen into a state of civil war.

Locke's picture of the state of nature is very different from Hobbes', since a
state of nature is portrayed as a state of perfect equality and freedom.
Equality is part of the problem, though, since without concentration of wealth
in property, permanent improvements are lacking.  His comment on the
"Americans" has much the same tenor as does Hobbes:

"There cannot be a clearer demonstration of anything, than several nations of
the Americans are of this, who are rich in land and poor in all the comforts of
life; whom nature having furnished as liberally as any other people, with the
materials of plenty, i.e. a fruitful soil, apt to produce in abundance, what
might serve for food, raiment, and delight; yet for want of improving it by
labor, have not one hundredth part of the conveniences we enjoy; and a king of
a large and fruitful territory there, feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a
day-labourer in England" (Second Treatise on Government, section 41).

As a closing observation, Hobbes' allusion to civil war and its evils came in
1637-42, with conflicts between the parliament and the British monarchy; the
unimpeachable right of the monarch may have been in no small part due to the
persuasion of Cromwell, though Hobbes was equally happy with Charles II.

Robert Richardson
Richards@UCBEH.san.uc.edu

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