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Thomas Hobbes´ Influence On Modern Day Politics

1177 words - 5 pages

Why as individuals do we surrender certain liberties to a higher sovereign power that possess control over us? Thomas Hobbes was a political philosopher who is considered one of the fathers of liberal thought and the modern liberal state. His famous political work, Leviathan, suggests that for our own preservation, we form into commonwealths under rulers to escape from the "miserable condition of war" . We combined into these large groups of social interaction because individually, we cannot survive the brutish conditions present in war and the state of nature. When analyzing commonwealths, the question arises as to which form of government the commonwealth represents; one that is ruled by a single ruler, in Machiavelli's terms a principality, one ruled by many individuals, a republic, or a form of commonwealth, which is neither? When looking at the concept of commonwealth, it can be said that although Hobbes was a founder in modern liberal thought, his concept of the leviathan as a sovereign power, which we submit to for protection, resembles that of a principality more so than that of a republic or another form of commonwealth.
Throughout the work, Hobbes incorporates several concepts, such as inalienable rights in the state of nature, self-interest and civil rights, which show support for a republican form of government. One of his major points throughout his famous work comes in the first section of the work, of man, which introduces the concept of inalienable rights. Hobbes begins by describing the state nature as one which is in a continual state of war, where the life of man is "poor, nasty, brutish, and short" . However, even in this state of war, several rights of nature are suggested, rights which everyone in the state of nature abides by. Among the major rights is that of liberty, in which "each man hath to use his own power ... for the preservation of his own nature" . The rights that Hobbes is describing are inalienable rights, which cannot be taken away from an individual. These natural, inalienable rights also suggest the idea of self - interests. As individuals, we are constantly looking for security as a way to preserve our survival, and therefore for our own self - interest, we "seek peace, and follow it" . As with inalienable rights, the idea of self - interest is one, which is associated with liberal thought. Therefore, it would thrive better in a republic, as it is a better representation of a liberal form of government. One other crucial aspect that cannot be ignored is the idea of equality, which is presented through various parts of the work. When discussing the laws of nature, Hobbes states that "man acknowledge other for his equal by nature" , and when things that are capable of being divided that they are enjoyed by the common . These statements are ones which support collective action through members in a commonwealth, a collective action which would be present in a republican form of commonwealth. As shown...

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