Thomas Hobbes And The Social Contract

1634 words - 7 pages

Thomas Hobbes was the first philosopher to connect the philosophical commitments to politics. He offers a distinctive definition to what man needs in life which is a successful means to a conclusion. He eloquently defines the social contract of man after defining the intentions of man. This paper will account for why Hobbes felt that man was inherently empowered to preserve life through all means necessary, and how he creates an authorization for an absolute sovereign authority to help keep peace and preserve life. Hobbes first defines the nature of man. Inherently man is evil. He will do whatever is morally permissible to self preservation. This definition helps us understand the argument of why Hobbes was pessimistic of man, and called for a social contract theory. This is the only way to keep peace and preserve life. These points will lead to why Hobbes called for the citizen to give consent to absolute rule.
Prior to issuing the social contract, Hobbes in Leviathan has to define the state of man. In Chapter 8 of Natural Condition of Mankind, as concerning their felicity and misery Hobbes notes the individualism of man. He states how man has no obligation to other people, and that they are the center of the universe. He defines how man’s inalienable right is for self preservation. He detours from traditional logic and reasoning stating that man is emboldened to need god to attain his end means. This is a secular theory that has never been presented before. The fact is that man lives by only one rule: to preserve the right to preserve. Man lives to kill or be killed. Every man acts as a singular body that has the duty to preserve his own successful end means. Freedom is an obligation to preserve and defend your own life even if it calls for the end of others. His new theory takes the role of god being a divine authority that man should obey, and concludes that man has only one rule to obey. That is the preservation of man’s own success. He states, “by force or wiles to master the persons of all men he can, so long till he see no other power great enough to endanger him. And this is no more than man’s(sic) own conservation requireth, and is generally allowed” (Hobbes, 1994, page 75).
Hobbes states that with this singular rule to abide leads to three characteristics of outcome. That man first looks to invade and conquer through competition. He will look to go to war with anyone that gets in the way of a successful end. “Man is enemy to every man..(therefore) men live without other security” (Hobbes, 1994, page 76). The need to define man as a savage individual leads Hobbes to the Laws of Nature, and will help define the need authorizing an absolute sovereignty.
Why is this information important? By defining the intent of man, Hobbes is setting up the need for absolute sovereignty to create a conducive community where man can live with others. If he can establish that man is inherently seeking only for himself,...

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