But to be outside of a political community is to be in an anarchic condition.
The Glorious Sovereign: Thomas Hobbes on Leadership and International Relations
Given human nature, the variability of human desires, and need for scarce resources to fulfill those desires, the state of nature , as Hobbes calls this anarchic condition, must be a war of all against all. Even when two men are not fighting, there is no guarantee that the other will not try to kill him for his property or just out of an aggrieved sense of honour, and so they must constantly be on guard against one another. It is even reasonable to preemptively attack one's neighbour. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
The desire to avoid the state of nature, as the place where the summum malum of violent death is most likely to occur, forms the polestar of political reasoning. It suggests a number of laws of nature , although Hobbes is quick to point out that they cannot properly speaking be called "laws," since there is no one to enforce them. The first thing that reason suggests is to seek peace, but that where peace cannot be had, to use all of the advantages of war.
Hobbes concludes Part One by articulating an additional seventeen laws of nature that make the performance of the first two possible and by explaining what it would mean for a sovereign to represent the people even when they disagree with the sovereign. The purpose of a commonwealth is given at the start of Part II:. THE final cause, end, or design of men who naturally love liberty, and dominion over others in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, in which we see them live in Commonwealths, is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of war which is necessarily consequent, as hath been shown, to the natural passions of men when there is no visible power to keep them in awe, and tie them by fear of punishment to the performance of their covenants The commonwealth is instituted when all agree in the following manner: I authorise and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorise all his actions in like manner.
The sovereign has twelve principal rights: . Hobbes explicitly rejects the idea of Separation of Powers. In item 6 Hobbes is explicitly in favour of censorship of the press and restrictions on the rights of free speech should they be considered desirable by the sovereign to promote order. There are three monarchy , aristocracy and democracy :.
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The difference of Commonwealths consisted in the difference of the sovereign, or the person representative of all and every one of the multitude. And because the sovereignty is either in one man, or in an assembly of more than one; and into that assembly either every man hath right to enter, or not every one, but certain men distinguished from the rest; it is manifest there can be but three kinds of Commonwealth.
For the representative must needs be one man, or more; and if more, then it is the assembly of all, or but of a part. When the representative is one man, then is the Commonwealth a monarchy; when an assembly of all that will come together, then it is a democracy, or popular Commonwealth; when an assembly of a part only, then it is called an aristocracy.
And only three; since unlike Aristotle he does not sub-divide them into "good" and "deviant":. Other kind of Commonwealth there can be none: for either one, or more, or all, must have the sovereign power which I have shown to be indivisible entire. There be other names of government in the histories and books of policy; as tyranny and oligarchy ; but they are not the names of other forms of government, but of the same forms misliked. For they that are discontented under monarchy call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy call it oligarchy: so also, they which find themselves grieved under a democracy call it anarchy, which signifies want of government; and yet I think no man believes that want of government is any new kind of government: nor by the same reason ought they to believe that the government is of one kind when they like it, and another when they mislike it or are oppressed by the governors.
The difference between these three kinds of Commonwealth consisteth not in the difference of power, but in the difference of convenience or aptitude to produce the peace and security of the people; for which end they were instituted. And to compare monarchy with the other two, we may observe: first, that whosoever beareth the person of the people, or is one of that assembly that bears it, beareth also his own natural person. And though he be careful in his politic person to procure the common interest, yet he is more, or no less, careful to procure the private good of himself, his family, kindred and friends; and for the most part, if the public interest chance to cross the private, he prefers the private: for the passions of men are commonly more potent than their reason.
From whence it follows that where the public and private interest are most closely united, there is the public most advanced. Now in monarchy the private interest is the same with the public. The riches, power, and honour of a monarch arise only from the riches, strength, and reputation of his subjects. For no king can be rich, nor glorious, nor secure, whose subjects are either poor, or contemptible, or too weak through want, or dissension, to maintain a war against their enemies; whereas in a democracy, or aristocracy, the public prosperity confers not so much to the private fortune of one that is corrupt, or ambitious, as doth many times a perfidious advice, a treacherous action, or a civil war.
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The right of succession always lies with the sovereign. Democracies and aristocracies have easy succession; monarchy is harder:.
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The greatest difficulty about the right of succession is in monarchy: and the difficulty ariseth from this, that at first sight, it is not manifest who is to appoint the successor; nor many times who it is whom he hath appointed. For in both these cases, there is required a more exact ratiocination than every man is accustomed to use.
Because in general people haven't thought carefully. However, the succession is definitely in the gift of the monarch:. As to the question who shall appoint the successor of a monarch that hath the sovereign authority Therefore it is manifest that by the institution of monarchy, the disposing of the successor is always left to the judgement and will of the present possessor.
And for the question which may arise sometimes, who it is that the monarch in possession hath designed to the succession and inheritance of his power. By express words, or testament, when it is declared by him in his lifetime, viva voce, or by writing; as the first emperors of Rome declared who should be their heirs. For the word heir does not of itself imply the children or nearest kindred of a man; but whomsoever a man shall any way declare he would have to succeed him in his estate.
If therefore a monarch declare expressly that such a man shall be his heir, either by word or writing, then is that man immediately after the decease of his predecessor invested in the right of being monarch.
But where testament and express words are wanting, other natural signs of the will are to be followed: whereof the one is custom. And therefore where the custom is that the next of kindred absolutely succeedeth, there also the next of kindred hath right to the succession; for that, if the will of him that was in possession had been otherwise, he might easily have declared the same in his lifetime In Leviathan , Hobbes explicitly states that the sovereign has authority to assert power over matters of faith and doctrine, and that if he does not do so, he invites discord.
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Hobbes presents his own religious theory, but states that he would defer to the will of the sovereign when that was re-established: again, Leviathan was written during the Civil War as to whether his theory was acceptable. Thomas Hobbes also touched upon the sovereign's ability to tax in Leviathan , although he is not as widely cited for his economic theories as he is for his political theories. More Details Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about War in Social Thought , please sign up.
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Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Alex rated it it was amazing Oct 22, Michal rated it really liked it May 05, Eric marked it as to-read Dec 20, Velma added it Sep 17, Vincent marked it as to-read Jan 08, Go back to the Locke primary source document. Find passages in Locke that defend the idea of "consent of the governed.
Consider the differences and similarities you see in the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke. What do you identify as the key difference between the two? Recall what you know about the Declaration of Independence. Which philosophers' writing aligns more with the primary message of that document? The lecture on Hobbes indicates his quite modern and novel—for the day—arguments about why people should support the state. The unit plan here is too long for an AP course, but it provides great background content on Hobbes and Locke, and it gives some potentially useful ideas about how to approach this topic.
I used it primarily for content background in preparing the lesson.
An Introduction to the Thought of Thomas Hobbes
It could be used to enrich a lesson with more digital content. Bill of Rights Institute: Constitutional Principles Videos : This site features videos that provide background on core American ideals such as separation of powers, consent of the governed used in this lesson , rule of law, and representative government. The other videos would also prove useful during or after this module if a teacher wanted to add more video resources. It is in Spanish and could be used for students who need extra help in English-language classrooms.
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Estimated module length: Two hours and fifteen to twenty minutes Thomas Hobbes. Overview Thomas Hobbes April 5, —December 4, and John Locke August 29, —October 28, , although in agreement in some of their assertions about human nature and the need for government, held radically different perspectives about the ability of people to govern themselves.