Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679)
"Fear and I were born wins" Puritans vs Royalists Puritans- supported Parliament. They supported limited monarchy. Royalist-supported the king/absolute monarchy/king should control religious affair. Hobbes was Puritans or Royalist?
Hobbes and science... Nature of human and state of nature. Absolute equality and absolute liberty State of nature- "to do unto others before they do unto you". War of everyone against everyone. Hobbes' understanding of human nature is pessimistic. But there is no other view possible. Humans are by nature power seeker and if not constrained would annihilate each other. Thus human is innately antisocial. The civil society and its order is reflection of political control. Take these away, real nature of human will be seen "he arms himself and seeks to go well accompanied; when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his house, he locks his chests; and this when he knows there be laws and public officers armed to revenge all injuries shall be done him; what opinion he has of his fellow-subjects when he rides armed; of his fellow-citizens, when he locks his doors; and of his children and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not there as much accuse mankind by his actions as I do by my words?"
If we are honest to ourselves, there is no other possible conclusion to be derived from our thought experiment. Hobbes, the first modern contract theorist. The contract theorist rejected the divine right doctrine which holds that there is a divine sanction for monarch to rule. This was the Royalist view. The contract theorist claimed that since state is formed by consent, so government is legitimate only to the extent that people have consented to it. Social contract, state of nature were for real? no/mental construct/act of imagination/no determinate time of history.
Why do human beings contract out of the state of nature to form state? In state of nature, life is nasty, brutish and short. In contemporary terms, Hobbes is proposing that state exists to provide security to people from other states and from each other. Hobbes also holds that state does not exist to engage in moral education. What is morality for Hobbes?
What are the terms of contract? People came out of state of nature for security purpose and so the power of government must be sufhcient to provide for it. For this Hobbes says that the power of government should be absolute. Anything less would be insufficient to protect people from each other. Hence, terms of contract is that all power shall resides with the government and rights of individual shall only be those allowed. Hobbes is very clear that people must confer all their power and strength upon one man or assembly of men. It is not sufficient if they submit few powers to the state and keep the rest. They must turn all of them. Unless all power or rights are turned over there cannot be a sovereign. The state has to be absolute sovereign. What is Hobbes' sovereignty? Sovereignty is the heart of Hobbes' political thought. It means ultimate/ absolute power over all other social or political bodies. For Hobbes, internal sovereignty is most important. He says that state must control everything including the church
Why can't state be given certain power like making laws and executing them while other power and rights like speech given to the people? Hobbes says that state of nature is state of war. Humans cannot control their lust for power. If they are left with any power then they will use it to gain other powers. The individual will try to subvert the govt. just like he used to do in state of nature with other individuals. The sovereignty of the state cannot be ensured unless there is total alienation of individual rights and power If people are so hungry for power as described by Hobbes then why on the first place they agree to give away their power? Because people have no choice. Their condition in state of nature is so nasty and brutish that the creation of sovereign is the only way out of fear and violence. The pain in state of nature is far more than the pain of giving away their rights and powers
Manoj Singh Khetwal
I am a power engineer with 3 years of work experience with L&T. Currently, preparing for civil services and working with study iq.