Montesquieu

Before all these laws are those of nature, so cal­led because they derive solely from the cons­ti­tu­tion of our being. To unders­tand them well, we must consi­der a man before the esta­blish­ment of socie­ties. The laws of nature will be those he would receive in such a state.

That law which, by imprin­ting within us the notion of a crea­tor, urges us toward him, is the first of natu­ral laws in impor­tance, though not in the order of those laws. Man in the state of nature would pos­sess rather the faculty of kno­wing than any know­ledge. It is obvious that his first notions would not be spe­cu­la­tive ones : he would attend to the pre­ser­va­tion of his being before inqui­ring into its ori­gin. Such a man would at first be aware only of his weak­ness ; he would be extre­mely timid : and if on that point we nee­ded evi­dence, wild men have been found in the forests1 who quake at eve­ry­thing and flee eve­ry­thing.

In this state, eve­ryone feels infe­rior ; scar­cely can the indi­vi­dual feel equal to ano­ther. Therefore they would not be eager to attack each ano­ther, and peace would be the first natu­ral law.

The desire to domi­nate each other from the start which Hobbes attri­bu­tes to men is not rea­so­na­ble. The thought of control and domi­na­tion is so com­plex, and depen­dent on so many other thoughts, that it is not the first that would come to him.

Hobbes asks why, if men are not natu­rally in a state of war, they carry wea­pons around with them, and why they have keys for locking their hou­ses. But we do not rea­lize we are attri­bu­ting to men before the esta­blish­ment of socie­ties some­thing that can occur only after such esta­blish­ment, which cau­ses them to find rea­sons for atta­cking each other and defen­ding them­sel­ves.

To his fee­ling of weak­ness man would add the awa­re­ness of his needs. Thus ano­ther natu­ral law would be that which would moti­vate him to seek nou­rish­ment.

I have said that fear would incline men to flee each other ; but the signs of mutual fear would soon begin to draw them toge­ther. Besides, they would be incli­ned in this direc­tion by the plea­sure an ani­mal feels at the approach of an ani­mal of its own kind. Moreover, the charm which the two sexes ins­pire by their dif­fe­rence would increase that plea­sure ; and the natu­ral way they always soli­cit each other would be a third law.

Besides the awa­re­ness which men have from the start, they fur­ther manage to acquire know­ledge ; thus they have a second bond which the other ani­mals have not. They the­re­fore have ano­ther rea­son for uni­ting, and the desire to live in society is a fourth natu­ral law.

Witness the wild man who was found in the forests of Hanover, and who was seen in England under the reign of George I.