This study takes a critical look at the work of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in relation to Patrick Deneen’s first anthropological assumption of Liberalism, presented in his book, Why Liberalism Failed. Deneen claims that Liberalism conceives of human persons as naturally separate and non-relational. Man is not a ζῷον πολιτικόν (Politikon Zoon or Political animal) in Liberalism. Human persons are not the kinds of being that thrive in interpersonal relationships but are by nature isolated and come together for limited self-interested purposes. The main work of this paper includes an attempt to flesh out Hobbes’, Locke’s, and Rousseau’s ideas about human nature in a way that accurately represents the nuances of their positions. This paper finds that, while Deneen is correct in some ways, he is incorrect in others and has missed the subtlety and intricacy of these three thinkers in the tradition of Liberalism. This paper also attempts, in the terms of phenomenological personalist philosophy, to draw attention to the failures of the Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. The conclusion of this paper is that while Deneen’s critique of Liberalism cannot be fully endorsed neither can the metaphysical anthropology of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau be fully endorsed, despite Liberalism’s noble ambitions.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 12-9-2019


Steve Parchment

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Philosophy and Religion

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Philosophy and Religion