Carl Schmitt's Ideas Of John Locke And Thomas Hobbes

analytical Essay
986 words
986 words

When it comes to Carl Schmitt and his ideas about John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, I cannot help but wonder if Schmitt even tried to understand what both of those philosophers were trying to say. First off, Schmitt categorizes Hobbes and Locke, which makes sense, but after that it is all down hill. Schmitt gets deeper down into what he believes Locke is talking about but misses Locke’s entire point about executive prerogative. After this, Schmitt jumps to Hobbes as well and discusses how he does not believe that they subject the sovereign power to natural law. Carl Schmitt gets deep down in the differences between John Locke and Thomas Hobbes in “The Problem of Sovereignty”. This is where Schmitt brings up his decisionist theory and places Locke …show more content…

In “Definition of Sovereignty”, Schmitt states that “the exception was something incommensurable to John Locke’s doctrine of the constitutional state and the rationalist eighteenth century.” (Schmitt 13, 14). When it comes to the whole “eighteenth century” part of this quote, I agree mostly with Schmitt, because philosophers like Thomas Hobbes believed that anything outside of the sovereign power is the state of nature and the state of nature must always be avoided. On the other hand, if Schmitt was getting the benefit of the doubt, his argument in this statement would simply be an observation that Locke appears to have some internal contradiction. This could make sense because at one moment Locke says “wherever law ends, tyranny begins” (Locke 189) then the next he discusses acting outside the law, also known as prerogative. However, the first time reading this, the argument that Schmitt is saying John Locke does not understand the idea of exception might leave someone wondering if Schmitt even bothered to read Locke, specifically the entire chapter entitled “Of Prerogative”. In the third paragraph of this chapter, Locke clearly says, “This power to act according to the discretion for the public good, without the prescription of the law, and sometimes even against it, is that which is …show more content…

As the centuries went on, philosophy, just like many other things, became much more secular. That being said, Schmitt made it very clear in “The Problem of Sovereignty” that “In political reality”, sovereigns no longer act under the idea of natural law (Schmitt 17). Later on in this same chapter, Schmitt discusses how Hobbes would not understand the idea of superior and inferior because Hobbes believes anyone who has power is subject to the other. However, when Hobbes was writing much earlier, the idea of natural law was still a very prominent concept in philosophy and therefore Hobbes believed that even the absolute sovereign was subject to the laws of nature which he clearly states in “Of Civil Laws” when he says the laws the sovereign makes “be not against the law of nature (which is undoubtedly God’s law)” (Hobbes

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how carl schmitt categorizes john locke and thomas hobbes, which makes sense, but after that it is all downhill.
  • Analyzes how carl schmitt differentiates between john locke and thomas hobbes in "the problem of sovereignty".
  • Opines that carl schmitt's argument that john locke does not understand the idea of executive prerogative and the state of exception is incommensurable to hobbes.
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