One of the most important foundations of Hobbes political philosophy is his reasoning for the importance of government. Hobbes argues that without the presence of government human life would be unbearable, in fact he even goes as far as to say that without government we would live a life of everlasting war with one another. In this paper I will support Hobbes’ claims as to why government is vital, I will also compare Hobbes’ description of the state of nature to the state of the world today.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were both social contract theorists who set the foundational footprints for the fundamentals of political life right into our own times. The two great thinkers imagined the world without a state in order to determine the legitimacy of the state that is present in reality. They differed greatly in their notions of the ‘state of nature’ and in doing so they developed contrasting conceptions of the role of the state and the nature of rights and liberty granted to the people. Hobbes’ political regime relies on the protest that the sovereign should have unlimited rights with no dissent or dissolution such that public and private interests are parallel. On the other hand, Locke sees man as a creature of reason rather than one of desire wherein he believes that the purpose of the government is to uphold and protect the natural rights of men that are independent of the state. The dichotomy in their beliefs construes their different translations of liberty.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke have authored two works that have had a significant impact on political philosophy. In the “Leviathan” by Hobbes and “Two Treatises of Government” by Locke, the primary focus was to analyze human nature to determine the most suitable type of government for humankind. They will have confounding results. Hobbes concluded that an unlimited sovereign is the only option, and would offer the most for the people, while for Locke such an idea was without merit. He believed that the government should be limited, ruling under the law, with divided powers, and with continued support from its citizens. With this paper I will argue that Locke had a more realistic approach to identifying the human characteristics that organize people into societies, and is effective in persuading us that a limited government is the best government.
Explaining Political Philosophy
Political philosophy, or political theory, as it is also known, is
about human condition, or, what humans are like. There are roughly
four main kinds of political philosophy around today-Libertarianism,
Socialism, Liberalism and Communitarianism. Political theory is an
attempt to understand people, what we are like as individuals, what
society and the state are like, and how we as humans, the state and
society all interact with one and other.
A social contract theory is the method of justifying political
principles or arrangements by appeal to the agreement that would be
made among suitably situated rational, free, and equal persons. For
some philosophers this contract is reality, whereas for others it is
regarded as imaginary.
Throughout Federalist 10, James Madison argues that we must allow people to separate into groups according to their needs and beliefs regarding the political system of our country. These factions will protect interests and create an elevated government comprised of the most knowledgeable and educated men to protect the citizenry. His arguments reflect his status as a wealthy and educated landowner that must protect himself in the face of the common people. I will argue that Madison’s argument is flawed, which he alludes to in his writing, because he neglects to acknowledge that people are self-interested and therefore, morally corrupt. This self-interest will be the downfall of Madison’s government as private interests take root and the will of the people is ignored in all places but elections.
Life in the state of nature is a matter that has been tackled by many philosophers throughout time and has arisen questions such as “What would life be without institutions such as government, police, courts of law?” or “Who should rule?”. Philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes or John Locke come from different times and different backgrounds and so, have different takes on the matter. The main theses of this essay is how life in the state of nature would be in concordance with the seemingly different ideologies of each Hobbes and Locke and come to the conclusion that they’re not that different. The first view that’ll be presented with the question at hand will be that of Thomas Hobbes, followed by John Locke’s.
Aristotle claimed that “the polis is one of those things that exist by nature, and man is an animal made to live in a polis.” For Aristotle, therefore, man is a political animal by nature. Society is an essential part of the natural state of man. For Hobbes, based on the meaning of equality, society as a political organization is precisely absent. He said: “States exist by convention, and conventions are manifestly man-made, so states are self-evidently artificial and thus nonnatural.” Moreover, Hobbes dissented from Aristotle on their understanding of the nature of man. Hobbes said that “men were not political by nature as bees and cattle were; their association depended on an agreement to observe justice among men who disagreed about who ought to receive what, and thus they needed common standards of right and wrong to regulate their affairs.” The origin of the society as a political organization therefore is the social
In Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, Hobbes introduces a fundamentally novel concept of the roots of politics and civic government. His ideas are based on his own views of human nature, which he believes to be disturbingly chaotic if left without structure. Hobbes believes, that the only way to guarantee society’s peace and security from such chaotic nature, is to establish a sovereign to rule over the commonwealth. Therefore, he proposes that the most practical and efficient sovereign is one that is all powerful with unlimited rights. However, although Hobbes’ mostly well-reasoned ideas create this ideal omnipotent sovereign, there are a few problems with his argument that cause it to fail; mainly because human nature does not allow for the cultivation of a covenant, the assumptions that Hobbes makes of the omnipotent sovereign is improbable if not impossible, and finally, Hobbes’ ideas regarding the rights of the sovereign are contradictory to some of his other political ideas.
Hobbes and Locke consider the formation of government from man’s own nature, whether or not government is formed because man is a social animal or if government is formed to preserve society. According to Locke, man must not "think that all government in the world is the product only of force and violence, and that men live together by no other rules but that of beasts" (page 1). "To understand political powe...
Hobbes, on the other hand attested to a role of government akin to monarchy or dictatorship. His definition of the role of the state is a direct inversion of Locke’s. He states society is a creation of the state and therefore the governed surrender their rights so the state can fulfill its main func...