Hobbes and Machiavelli

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POST ONE

     During the Italian Renaissance which occurred during the 14th century and lasted until the 16th century, during the transition from Medieval times to a more modern European society in which Machiavelli distance himself from the Philosopher’s that came before him. The new ideas and approaches that Machiavelli brought to the political thought & to the study of political rule consist of many different strategies that are quite different from earlier philosophers. Machiavelli "broke from the Greek classical philosophers’ view of the political as an ethical practice about normative notions of the good life (stanford.edu)." Machiavelli saw mankind as corrupt human beings so the idea of virtue tied to political order is hard to believe & even more difficult to maintain, those that study Machiavelli called a realistic for his understanding of manipulating mankind can be. Machiavelli thought the only concern that a political ruler should worry themselves about is the acquisition and maintenance of power.

 

     Machiavelli study of political rule was very harsh in tone as he clearly believes that fear is the best weapon for a well-ordered political system, "there cannot be good laws without good arms, I will not consider laws but speak of arms (Machiavelli 1965, 47 & stanford.edu 2014)." Machiavelli leads us to believe that laws will only be followed or be seen as legitimate for the possible threat of force, he believes there can be not authority without the power to enforce it. Fear for Machiavelli was his preference for subjects to obeying the ruling authority, believing good arms & good laws is the most effective way to have a or maintain a well-ordered political system. Machiavelli view on virtue led him to such realistic terms, that a ruler can do evil & good but in order for them to do so must have a flexible disposition (stanford.edu).

 

     Machiavelli's approach in my opinion has become the norm in some many governments around the globe the corruption, extortion, & blackmail that takes place in the current political environment is absolutely identical to Machiavelli writings. We should rule in how things ought to be, like those who are oppressed by others should be free people & if the masses cannot accept it than the ruling authority should take action to protect all peoples of a just society.

 

 

POST TWO

According to Thomas Hobbes, the state of nature is "nasty, brutish, and short." Because of this, humans need to turn to a social contract for their own well-being (Leviathan) A social contract is an agreement amongst people to forego some of their rights in order for protection. "That a man be willing, when others are so too, as farre-forth, as for Peace, and defence of himselfe he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himselfe."(Leviathan)

The rights that I, or any person, must give up are anything that I wish to do--I give up the right to take your sack of oranges for my own nutrition and I give up my right to drive my car as fast I choose so that I can get to my destination quicker. And the protection that I will now receive will come from a government--and Hobbes saw that a monarchy would be ideal.

Men need the common protection against enemies or else they will turn on themselves. (Leviathan). This expression from Leviathan really made me wonder about how true this could actually be. Does our government maintain international conflicts to avoid internal struggles (economic issues, social problems)?

Men also have characteristics that separate themselves from living creatures and these traits show the necessity of a social contract. In short, these include: the competition amongst men for honor and dignity (leading to envy, hatred, and war), that men re social beings, that men think of themselves as better than other men, that men have the ability to speak, allowing for both good and evil statements (Leviathan).

Hobbes also pointed out that if a social contract is agreed upon out of fear, it is still a binding contract (Leviathan). I take this to mean that even if a person agrees to give up some freedoms for protection because they are duped into it, or are in fear that if they do not agree then "bad things" could happen to them, that the contract is STILL valid. Although this potential coerciveness appears unjust by contemporary standards, Hobbes' thinking is that a person is coming from a state of nature where they are free to decide how they choose. So if that person chooses something--even if out of fear, it is still their own free will, thus the contract is binding.

Hobbes statement from Leviathan in which, "I Authorise and give up my Right of Governing my selfe, 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"explains his own concept of what a commonwealth would be--everyone giving up many freedoms for the betterment of the common good as well as for man's own protection. (Leviathan).

 

 

POST THREE

 

    Hobbes ultimate goal was to end civil war and bloodshed by a social contract between the government and the people where he people submit themselves to a political authority thereby giving up their liberty. His argument is based on his assessment of what life would be like without a government which he calls the state of nature. In this state of nature, all of the citizens believe that they have a right to everything. This state ultimately produces endless conflict since all of the citizens would be fighting for limited resources and power. In the logic of Hobbes, the state of nature is a state of war. In order for citizens to have peace and avoid war, they would have to give up their liberty, or the right to all things, to a sovereign authority. A sovereign authority is one with absolute authority in all things. A state such as this is basically a totalitarian state. This state, according to Hobbes, would be based on the golden rule or the laws of nature: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I understand the reasoning behind the political theory of Hobbes, but his theory does nothing to lift a person out of what he described as a state of nature. If everyone believes that they have a right to everything then how would an absolute authority not believe that they had a right to everything? What parties would be more likely to follow the golden rule in practice: Two people with equal power or one person with no power and one absolute power?

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