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Political Philosophy Essay

1742 words - 7 pages

Political Philosophy

Part One (Question 2)

Aristotle, Locke, and Hobbes all place a great deal of importance on the state of nature and how it relates to the origin of political bodies. Each one, however, has a different conception of what a natural state is, and ultimately, this leads to a different conception of what a government should be, based on this natural state. Aristotle’s feelings on the natural state of man is much different than that of modern philosophers and leads to a construction of government in and of itself; government for Hobbes and Locke is a departure from the natural state of man.

Aristotle’s emphasis is on the city-state, or the political world as a natural occurrence. He says “every city-state exists by nature, since the first communities do.” (Aristotle 3). Aristotle continually reiterates the notion that the creation of a community comes from necessity; individuals aim at the highest good of all, happiness, through their own rationality, and the only way to achieve happiness is through the creation of the city-state. Aristotle follows the creation of a household and a village to the creation of the city-state in which citizens are able to come together to aim at the “good which has the most authority of all,” (Aristotle 1) happiness. In turn, this necessity for the formation of a city state comes from the idea of man as a rational being. “It is also clear why a human being is more of a political animal than a bee or any other gregarious animal… no animal has speech except for a human being.” (Aristotle 4). For Aristotle, human beings are political animals because of their ability to speak, their ability to communicate pleasures and desires, and their ability to reason. Aristotle’s state comes entirely from those with the ability to reason. He continually reiterates that slaves have no ability to reason, which is why they are slaves and not citizens. For a city-state to be made up, it must be composed of citizens, those individuals with the ability to reason, and for Aristotle, this city-state is a natural occurrence.

Hobbes and Locke both have very different conceptions of the natural world. Hobbes conceives of a natural world in which the state is that of war. He talks about the lack of trust in the fellow subjects, and the manner in which men lock their doors and feel “continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of the man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Hobbes 171). The idea of the life of a man as being solitary, nasty, and brutish greatly conflicts with the idea that Aristotle has set forth with man being naturally bound together to achieve the good of happiness. Aristotle constructs a state in which men naturally work together to create happiness for all, whereas Hobbes believes that the natural state of man tends away from this, toward greed and war. Locke is similar to Hobbes in that his conception of nature is a more isolated one, but it’s a less blunt view of the...

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