Liam Fort and Kenton SwansonMr. WojoAP Euro, Period 4 23 January 2018 The Thoughts and Reactions of Thomas Hobbes 1588 marked a significant year for Europe; firstly, the Spanish Armada under Philip II was sent to England in attempt to quash the assistance of the Dutch Revolt against the grasp of the Spanish Empire. In other words, the overseeing command of a ruler was thwarted by the displeasure of subjects. The irony of such an event is that, coincidentally, the year 1588 also held the birth of Thomas Hobbes, the very man who would lead a life creating political theories on the roles of both rulers and their subjects, in addition to describing the ideal way to run an ideal form of government. Hobbes’ characteristics in his early and middle-aged life provide subtle hints as to why he conceptualized certain beliefs. The easiest way to convey such would be to give insight into his historical family background and his educational experiences. Born on April 5, 1588, Hobbes was raised by two devout members of the English clergy. Despite their religious influence on his early life, it is unclear whether he followed their religious guidance. It seems to be most evident that he either delved into skepticism or simply never formally connected his name to a religious group (Rogow, 20). This suspected skepticism could arguably have produced a differentiated mindset towards the world compared to other philosophers, yet Hobbes also used passages from the Bible to explain in his masterpiece Leviathan that a monarch’s power comes from his subjects. Hobbes attended and graduated from Oxford University, where he studied primarily political theory, as well as the scientific nature of mankind in a philosophical sense. The works of Hobbes ultimately summarize his thoughts regarding political structure. In one of his earlier works regarding mankind’s natural state and natural laws of society, De Cive (1642), Hobbes expressed his concepts of the part and disposition of the citizen in society, as an introduction into the reasoning behind his political theories. Hobbes began this writing by proclaiming that men naturally desire to hurt each other, and they contain an inherent evil that they invoke when they wish to benefit themselves (Hobbes 9). Throughout his life, Hobbes witnessed a plethora of political unrest during his lifetime, including historical conflicts like the Thirty Years’ War. Thus, he insisted that mankind consistently wished to disrupt the balance of power in the world, and therefore had a natural tendency to conflict against itself. This concept of mankind also appears in his later work, Leviathan, in which Hobbes elaborates on his initial ideas, stating that humans naturally desire for power and this endless hunger only ends with death (Hobbes, Leviathan). Therefore, he argues that the lives of others is a cost which some are willing to take to expand their personal prominence, an idea on which he expands upon while explaining optimal components of a government. However, returning to his earlier work, De Cive, Hobbes observed that the individual emotions of people greatly affected their view of society, causing their ideas to diversify from an original societal normality in many cases (Hobbes, 43). Hobbes used this argument in order to promote and justify his necessity of supervising authority to prevent anarchy, which leads into his religious beliefs. Concerning the matter of religion, Hobbes, as explained before, was not a figure of religious devotion, and assumably exerted thoughts of skepticism. His natural laws of mankind correspond directly to his views of religion: Hobbes wrote that religion is a result of humanity, not the other way around, and thus “the seed of Religion, is also only in man” (Hobbes, Leviathan). The overall intent of this passage is used to infer Hobbes’ prescribed law of humanity that there is a natural desire to have a supreme ruling authority over individuals. This also serves as one of his justifications for obtaining leadership in a nation. His differing religious views also attribute to his societal view of both men and women alike; Hobbes viewed all humans as equally prone to suffer from the common addiction to power (Leviathan). Even if he never promoted egalitarian ideas openly or discussed such matters with other philosophical figures, his notion of the necessity of a sovereign authority, either mortal or divine power, equates to an interpretation of his writings to be an implied definition of equal suffering or equal prosperity for subjects. As seen in religious teachings or the simple idea of a parent and child, Hobbes was adamant when discussing the importance of obedience in a system of government. In De Cive, he wrote that the role of parents was similar to that of subjects to royalty (118). Hobbes viewed children as citizens in need of learning subordination, and after they learned from their parents, they learned obedience. The instruction of such obedience then prepared them for their role as inferior servants and subjects under a ruler. In a short note regarding Hobbes’ views on liberty, the biography Thomas Hobbes: Radical in the Service of Reaction connects his justifiably authoritative opinions to his laws of nature. Since Hobbes believed that mankind roamed freely and destructively in an anarchist state of mind, he valued the security of a state over the rights and needs of individual citizens (Rogow, 137). Therefore, a powerful government is required to protect the rights and safety of both itself and its domestic citizens. The basis of his political argumentations often put the needs of the government above the needs of the people in order to centralize power more efficiently and not waste time being concerned with irrelevant and often time & resource consuming peasant issues. Hobbes believed that if citizens sacrificed their rights to the government, they would attain peace from the protection they received from the government in exchange for their rights. While Hobbes’ views on the structure of government may have appeared to some as unreasonable or cruel, his reasoning behind such beliefs is well supported with logical reasoning. Throughout his life, Hobbes vehemently supported the establishment of an absolutist-style monarchy. Hobbes made it clear that he believed that absolutism is the ideal form of government (Hobbes, Leviathan). His justification and reasoning: if all humans wish to ultimately attain power, all power vested in one man who can suppress any opposition leads to the higher possibility of satisfactory and effective rule. His developed idea here starkly contrasts and identifies the failures posed by a constitutional monarchy, in which people limited by a constitution must continuously be taunted and by the hopes of attaining individual power for themselves. Another component of Hobbes’ government is the absence of democratic consultation; in his book De Corpore, Hobbes explains that democracy unsuccessfully tries to connect a sovereign ruler and the subjects under the ruler (Hobbes, 72). In other words, his arguments stands that democracy is an inferior, uncooperative style of government, since the people are trying to be their own leader, yet simultaneously cannot be both a subject and a ruler. Another key concept of Hobbes was his definition of a successful versus a weak ruler. In De Cive, Hobbes proclaimed that a ruler’s influence on his or her subjects affected their title status and overall governing impression (Hobbes, 112). For example, the only difference between a tyranny and a monarchy is whether the ruler appeases his or her subjects or displeases them and makes them become aware of their subjection to the ruler. On the same topic, Hobbes believed that the obedience of subjects was necessary because of the relationship between a monarch and his or her subjects (Hobbes, 118). Since a monarch draws power from his subjects, his subjects must be loyal in order for a monarchy to be successful without tedious interruptions. Similarly in De Corpore, Hobbes wrote that, even if it was the duty of citizens to stay obedient to the ruler, a ruler must acknowledge the rights of the citizens under their rule and not infringe these rights and tarnish the natural state of willing obedience under fair sovereignty (Hobbes, 166). In a different perspective, any rebellion or protest from subjects during the reign of an equitable monarch is unjustified: the people have agreed to live under the sovereign ruler, so they have no right to complain. An example of Hobbes’ ideas in application is in his biography, where it is inferred that Cromwell supported Hobbes due to his implied defense of Cromwell’s actions during the English Civil War (Rogow, 190). While Hobbes may have disagreed with Cromwell’s revolt against the monarchy, he would have appreciated the usurping of the power of others to gain and advance oneself. In reaction to the groundbreaking events of the French Revolution, Hobbes would have most likely taken one of two stances. On one hand, he would have definitely denounced the groups responsible for the Revolution and their inability to acknowledge Louis XVI as their righteous monarch. Since they were citizens under him, they should have recognized his authority taken a more diplomatic, like approaching and gaining an influence on Louis’ advisors. On the other hand, however Hobbes could have taken the approach of commending the revolutionaries and denouncing Louis instead. Since Louis XVI was indecisive and incompetent when it came to ruling France, Hobbes could have criticized his applied absolutist model and offered advice on how to rule with an iron fist in the most effective manner possible. He might have possibly supported the revolutionaries due to their remarkable ability to seize the government of France and enforce their own model of government using the existing power within the country. In conclusion, Thomas Hobbes advocated for a firm, authoritative grasp on a country, and promoted the emergence of absolutist rule. Regarding the nature of mankind and the natural laws of society, he determined that, in a religious sense, humans naturally desired a governing authority over complete liberty, since freedom in a natural setting provokes violence and disunion. Thus, the role of government in the view of Hobbes is to provide citizens with safety and stability, and a leading monarchy will comply as long as citizens remain obedient and supportive of the government, without questioning its authority or righteousness.

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