Thomas Hobbes Essay Research Paper THOMAS HOBBESIntroductionThomas — страница 4

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State to the idea of monarchy as the most perfect artificial State” (129). Hobbes was less concerned about the legitimacy of government, and more concerned with the pragmatic and utilitarian effectiveness of government. The monarch or aristocratic government cannot hide its ineffectiveness behind the shield of divine, natural, or traditional authority, but had to be productive to retain the right to be respected. Hobbes advocacy of absolute power for the sovereign does not mean that all the rights of the subjects are eliminated. He gives instances in which subjects can disobey the ruler or rulers. A man cannot be compelled to kill, wound, or maim himself; and he cannot be commanded not to defend himself from attack, or to abstain from food and other elements necessary for his

survival. A subject is not obligated to incriminate himself, unless with the assurance of a pardon. He should not be compelled to undertake any dishonorable duties, unless the end thereof justifies the means, and is an end to which the sovereign was ordained. This means that one should only be compelled to undertake a dishonorable act if it contributes to liberty, security, and peace for all; and does not conflict with the other individual rights that are outside the covenant. Hobbes was of the opinion that “the obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasts by which he is able to protect them. For the right men have by nature to protect themselves when none else can protect them, can by no covenant be relinquished”

(419). Here he seems to give his endorsement of revolutions carried out against a ruler or rulers who lose the ability or will to protect the citizens from outside attack, or from lawlessness within, that threatens the life and livelihood of the subjects. He believed that if another usurps the power of a ruler, then the subjects are obligated to accept the authority of the one who seized power. As Lemos (1978) writes, “regardless of whether the revolutionary party overthrows a good or a bad sovereign, they have the power and the right to institute a new sovereign once the old is overthrown” (68). This acceptance of revolution as a means to gain power is probably what allowed Hobbes to accept the rule of Oliver Cromwell and the English Parliamentarians after the assassination

of King Charles I in the 1640s. Upon returning to England in 1951, he declared his recognition of the authority of the Republican regime led by Cromwell as the sovereign power of England. His argument in support of the usurpation of power also reveals Hobbes’ colonialist views. Lamos (1978) explains that in Hobbes’ opinion, “if a sovereign who is vanquished by a foreign conqueror submits to the conqueror and accepts him as sovereign, his subjects are thereby obligated also to accept the conqueror as sovereign” (68). This means that the citizens of a country that is conquered by another country are obligated to accept the colonizer as sovereign. These views were expressed during a period of colonization around the world by the European countries like England, France, and

Spain. Summary. Hobbes’ explanation of the origins of the State is predicated on “his fundamental opinion that fear, or more accurately fear of death, is the force which makes men clear-sighted, and vanity the force which makes men blind” (Strauss, 1961: 132). It is this fear which forces man to seek the organization of a State with a sovereign ruler or rulers to whom every man will relinquish most of their natural rights in order to secure the most important rights. These include the right to a life free from the fear of death by another, and the freedom to live in peace with everyone. Once the State has been formed and power given to its ruler or rulers, that power resides there as long as the ruler can protect those being ruled. If another dominant force defeats the

ruler, then that new ruler is given the sovereign authority over all those who are ruled. The ruler of a State is not endowed with any natural or God given advantage over those he rule, but gets his authority through the will of the people. Unlike Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who believe in the superior attributes of rulers/guardians, Hobbes posits that every man is born equal. This would imply that a ruler’s right to rule would depend on his ability to amass the necessary resources, and to broker the kind of influence that would enable him to maintain his position of dominance. This seems to contradict the fundamental arguments about equality among men, since the fact that such a person who is be able to commit such resources to governance, and to command such alliances with