Thomas Hobbes And J. Rousseau

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Thomas Hobbes and J-J. Rousseau, as early modern political theorists, imagined the state of nature and developed the corresponding solutions around the establishment of a social contract to prevent chaos. While Hobbes asked the citizens in a civil society to submit themselves to the authoritative sovereignty, Rousseau backed an entirely participatory government in which all the members under the social contract should be involved into the legislation and deliberations of affairs. Although Rousseau’s society seems free yet aristocratic, he passionately demand that a state needs an outside lawgiver to oversee the foundation of the legislature. Hobbes, however, proposed the idea of creating an Leviathan wherein people are under the superstructure of a paramount unit or authority. The claim that a Leviathan is permanent but the lawgiver is temporary only covers a part of the philosophers’ beliefs. Indeed, Leviathan took control of its citizens as long as the state continues to exist while the lawgiver merely functions during the beginning stage of the creation of a social contract. But the differences in the internal and external natures of these two terms, their relationships with laws and their definitions under sovereignty distinguish the two ideals sharply, and eventually designate citizens to be either obedient or politically active. In the process of moving out of the state of nature, Rousseau acknowledged that it would be nearly impossible for everyone to agree and codify laws. In this case, he described the idea of a lawgiver as “in every respect an extraordinary man in the state. If he ought to be so by his genius, he is no less so by his office, which is neither magistracy nor sovereignty.”[ J-J. Rousseau, The Social Contra... ... middle of paper ... ...age citizens to coin. The permanency and temporariness solely cannot completely explain the types of citizens the two philosophers would like to see. Notwithstanding, if various factors are combined for assessment, it is clear that Hobbes expects the citizens to be obedient and united, and Rousseau, similarly, anticipates citizens with a perfect sense of the general will and an acceptance of the laws set by the lawgiver. The different natures of the Leviathan and the lawgiver showcase the deviations of the philosopher’s tenets, but despite of the dichotomies, the types of citizens they favored are not antitheses. Perhaps, it was the historical influence and the particular moment that fostered the expectations of Hobbes and Rousseau. Seeing beyond the mere philosophical texts, problems of history may play a larger role in determining the logic and progress of ideology.

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