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Essay on Personal Freedom in Leviathan and Candide

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The basis of Leviathan relies upon a theoretical readjustment of the state of social affairs. Candide, on the other hand, is that state of social affairs. Whereas Hobbes's Leviathan relates that of how the state of human nature can be changed and adapted to a desirable social order, Voltaire's Candide shows the difficulty of being within the sorry state of the human experience. But where does the concept of personal freedom come into play within these two basic premises? And how can a person compare such highly different interpretations of the spectrum of personal experience?

Hobbes has presented to the reader a geometric and organized map of an ideal governing situation. Man is a product of nature. But the interpretation of nature is purely a social construction. Nature is what it is; yet man, through his own filter of subjectivity, creates his own understanding of nature and its universal purpose. So the concept of truth in nature is hardly truth at all, but merely a creation of man so that he can understand the incomprehensible. Then what exactly is the truth of man's existence? To put it plainly, man has little power over nature. This causes the life of man to be, in Hobbes's own words, "nasty, brutish, and short." Fundamentally, in man's "natural condition of mankind" there is a constant, mechanical search for sustenance- food, housing, and power. Man is put in a situation of constant battle of wills in order to survive. In Hobbes's terms this is the State of Nature. Man needs to escape this state, and Hobbes offers a theoretically viable solution. By accepting the basic Law of Nature (the right of self-preservation) man hereby accepts a social contract. The contract generally provides man with peace, and ...


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...e process of searching for personal freedom. Man, according to both Voltaire and Hobbes, is inherently evil. And there must be some solution of how to repress this but at the same time allow for the mobility of a government's subjects. Leviathan attempts to allow this, although there are some undeniable flaws that could consequently mar the makeup of the monarchical government. And Candide shows how man acts in the State of Nature. It is not unlike a cry for help from Voltaire. He is implying that there needs to be some sort of social change to alleviate the injustices done to human beings. Yet, is the Leviathan really the answer? Perhaps, but staying optimistic within the belly of the beast may be hard to do.

Works Cited

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. W.W. Norton and Company. New York. 1997.

Voltaire. Candide. W.W. Norton and Company. New York. 1991.


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