Exploring the Anthropological Principles in Paine´s Common Sense
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In the 1776 document Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Paine tries to convince the American colonies that they are being fraternized by Britain under false pretenses, and that they should claim their freedom from their oppressive and manipulative rule immediately. In doing so, Paine actually highlights many of the principles of the Classical Christian Anthropology, the doctrine that our founding fathers initially instilled into the framework America. He also gives examples of the British government to emphasize the principles of Modern Anthropology, and to juxtapose against the Classical Christian Anthropology, or the government of the American colonies. My paper will explore the anthropological principles that underlie Paine’s argument in Common Sense, and how he uses them to explore British rule over American government.
Thomas Paine begins his article by first exploring the differences between society and government. He explains that, “society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” (Frohnen 179) What he means by this is that to have society and community is a privilege, because we as humans are designed to have a need for human interaction, while government on the other hand is only a necessary evil, simply because we as humans are also designed to be inherently evil, and therefore government is a necessary evil to have in order to monitor wrongdoing, or to keep us from our own vices in other words. This emphasizes the Classical Christian Anthropological principle of duality, which is the inner struggle that we as humans have between amor sui, the love of self, and amor dei, the love of God. This struggle springs from the fact that evil is found within man, and we must mak...
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...their success simultaneously.
Overall, Paine’s argument of what he believes the government of the American colonists should be underlines many principles of the Classical Christian Anthropology such as duality, a limited government, consensus and moral deliberation, decentralized government and reasonable expectations. He also uses principles from Rousseau’s Modern Anthropology when chastising Britain’s tyrannical government form, using examples such as the principle of unity, and an unlimited and centralized form of government. He is an advocate of the freedom of the American colonists, and a critic of Britain’s hypocritical and manipulative monarchy system, and in the end wants them both to just be free of each other, which is simply “Common Sense.”
Frohnen, Bruce. The American Republic: Primary Sources. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002. Print.