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Hobbes - Essay Example

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Name and Number of the Course Date THOMAS HOBBES Introduction Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was an English philosopher whose famous 1651 book Leviathan formed the basis for most of Western political philosophy from the social contract theory approach (Rosenberg 9)…
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Download file to see previous pages... Hobbes’ perspective on human nature as self-interested cooperation is an enduring theory of philosophical anthropology (Wildawski, Chai & Swedlow 161). Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the work of Thomas Hobbes from a social, political and economic perspective in western civilization. The Paradox of Hobbes Even in his own time, Hobbes was considered to have paradoxical views. Though he was perceived as a fierce controversialist and a brusque dogmatist, his main anger was directed against dogmatism of any kind. Similarly, although he was hostile to the intellectual authority of the churches as in the universities, he wanted his own philosophical works to be the authoritative texts within the universities. Though he praised toleration, he advocated an absolute sovereign with total power over intellectual matters. In place of scepticism, Hobbes promoted science although in an extremely sparse form. He cleared away all that he considered doubtful and was left with a “a bare a priori materialism, according to which the universe must consist of material objects causally interacting with one another” (Tuck 129), but the real nature of these objects and their interactions is not known. In the same way, in ethics, Thomas Hobbes eliminated all the complicated ethical theories of his orthodox predecessors whether Aristotelians or humanists, and was left with only the bare principle that people are morally entitled to preserve themselves. Hobbes’ Theory of Human Nature as Self-Interested Cooperation Hobbes had few to receive guidance from on the best way to live, other than sceptics such as Montaigne who had always acknowledged the practical necessity of self-preservation. In alignment with the sceptics, Hobbes also concluded that the laws of one’s country are constitutive of one’s general morality, and that whatever is necessary for one’s preservation has to be morally acceptable. He believed in taking this stance to radical lengths, and considered the sovereign to be responsible even for defining who a human being is, as in stating that “upon the occasion of some strange and deformed birth, it shall not be decided by Aristotle, or the philosophers, whether the same be a man or no, but by the laws” (Tuck 129). Thomas Hobbes’ Theory of International Relations Hobbes is a standard or mandatory figure in international relations theory, and also forms the core of one of the major traditions. Along with Machiavelli and sometimes with Thucydides, Hobbes stands as an archetypal proponent of ‘Realism’. Usually, scholars proficient in the study of Hobbes’ political philosophy deal with the theory of international relations in a very brief manner, within a few paragraphs or sentences. Modern international theorists interpret Hobbes work in a fixed manner. “The basic Hobbesian assumption is that there are no objective principles of morality” (Malcolm 433). Morality is determined only by the sovereign, once the state is formed. Hobbes’ belief was that the state creates morality as well as law, and that there is neither morality nor law outside the state. Hence, the realist view was that ethical standards were not applicable to relations between states. Similar to Machiavelli, Hobbes perceived politics as “the practical art of obtaining and preserving state power as an end in itself” (Malcolm 433). However, Hobbes reaches a higher level than Machiavelli through his clear account of the role ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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