The state of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments. There must have been a time before government, and so the question is how legitimate government could emerge from such a starting position, and what are the hypothetical reasons for entering a state of society by establishing a government.
In some versions of social contract theory, there are no rights in the state of nature, only freedoms, and it is the contract that creates rights and obligations. In other versions the opposite occurs: the contract imposes restrictions upon individuals that curtail their natural rights.
The time-period before the establishment of government, which political philosophers call the "state of nature," however, is regarded in the modern scientific era not only as hypothetical but actual. Societies existing before or without a political state are currently studied in such diverse fields as paleolithic history, archaeology, cultural anthropology, social anthropology, and ethnology, which investigate the social and power-related structures of indigenous and uncontacted peoples living in tribal communities.
Read more about State Of Nature: Between Nations
Famous quotes containing the words state of, state and/or nature:
“Instead of offering the Indians a chance to surrender, and to be taken peaceably, General Connor issued a very cruel order to his menTake no prisoners, fight to the death; nits breed lice.”
—State of Utah, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)
“Just across the Green from the post office is the county jail, seldom occupied except by some backwoodsman who has been intemperate; the courthouse is under the same roof. The dog warden usually basks in the sunlight near the harness store or the post office, his golden badge polished bright.”
—Administration for the State of Con, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)
“We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. But we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because he has neither extension nor limits.”
—Blaise Pascal (16231662)