Hobbes and Machiavelli Essay

Hobbes and Machiavelli Essay

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Hobbes and Machiavelli



Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes were both great political philosophers of their times. Even though they lived in different eras, these men both produced works that would be considered highly influential on the formation of political theory and philosophy. The Prince and the Leviathan can each be viewed as representing the political views of their respective eras. These influential men laid a new foundation for modern political thought. In order to pave the way for future political theorists like Rousseau and Marx, these men needed to break away from classical philosophy if not partially then completely.
Niccolo Machiavelli was born in Florence in 1469, only a little over a century before Hobbes. Even though these men were born relatively close in time, the general world outlook had changed tremendously. Machiavelli concentrated on how to maintain the absolute power of the monarch, and how the manipulation of the public could help the monarch maintain political power. Hobbes, however, had a different conception of what constituted the basis for sovereignty. In Hobbes' version, the absolute monarch was a representative of the people. He had to make decisions that would protect their existence as if it were his own. The monarch was responsible for making sure all citizens had food, water, and shelter. Machiavelli thought the citizens should only be treated well to the extent that it benefited the sovereign ruler. He really didn't see people as having any rights at all. An overview of both works shows a great deal about that particular time and era's political structure. It also showed that by the time Hobbes began writing, the way in which monarchies were regarded was beginning t...


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...t act ourselves what exactly is modern thought? "Modernity is not merely something new, but also a new idea that favors innovation in principle and constantly promotes new ideas and institutions, a change that wants to be receptive to further change. Whatever is modern does not stay the same but keeps becoming more modern. (Parel)". Such as Machiavelli's new modes and orders in The Prince and in the Discourses. Applied to politics, modernity mean the pursuit of power driven by the natural desire to acquire and expand, have to achieve that by any means possible. The new politics that Machiavelli would introduce required western civilization to accept the view that politics at its best ought to be both tyrannical and republican (Parel). There can be no political freedom without the active agency of both force and fear which is also something found in Hobbes.

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