Philosophy / Weaknesses Of Leviathan

Weaknesses Of Leviathan

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Autor:  anton  16 November 2010
Tags:  Weaknesses,  Leviathan
Words: 561   |   Pages: 3
Views: 835

Thomas Hobbes was born the year of the Spanish Armada, and lived in England through the English Civil War. Therefore, times were not exactly peaceful. In addition to the Civil War, England was economically unstable, plague ridden, and run by gangs rather than police. His perspective on life was shaped by his times, and he stated that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, and short.” Hobbes’ most famous work, Leviathon, demonstrates his views of mankind, and proposes a social contract theory based on these beliefs. His ideas of a social contract theory were revolutionary and still influence government in the modern era. Yet his theory has many weaknesses because of his outlook on mankind.

Since Hobbes’ view was extremely narrow, so is his Leviathon. His theory of social contract applies well to 17th century Civil War England, but outside of this time period, it is very constraining to modern society. Hobbes thought that society must give up its freedom for liberty and security. Although the people are not free, they are safe, which he assumed was better for society. However, life and security was all society could expect from this contract. The Leviathon, who would be created by this contract, was the only man, or body of government that was truly free. The Leviathon uses this power to keep the peace as best as it saw fit. This left no check on the Leviathon, and once created, Hobbes stated that the Leviathon must continue to exist despite his actions.

The ultimate power of the Leviathon is the next weakness of his social contract theory. Since the people of a society were responsible for creating the Leviathon, they were therefore responsible for its actions. Oppression of its people was seen as a way to keep the peace. Society has no right to rebel against the Leviathon because they created it. The right to rebel was an idea later added by John Locke, but Hobbes did not think this right was valid. What this created was a Leviathon who answered to nobody, and as long peace was kept according to the Leviathon, it was accomplishing its duty.

Hobbes’ greatest weakness in his social contract theory is the lack of respect to human nature. His society revolves purely around fearful and self-interested men. Although both exist is society, not all men are as evil as Hobbes believes. Peace must be keep, but his society does not limit the actions that the Leviathon can do. The people are not allowed to rebel or complain despite the oppression they may face. Hobbes failed to realize that men also have compassion, sympathy, and generosity within them. It is this underestimation of human nature that disconnects his 17th century social contract from modern society. People are more than predictable particles in motion, driven by self-interests and fear of death. He derives that those two motivators determine all actions committed by mankind. And perhaps during his lifetime, a strong case could be made for this conclusion. But the end of the English Civil War itself disputes his beliefs, because the Glorious Revolution, led by William of Orange in which there were very few casualties, freed England from those dark times. Without Hobbes’ understanding of the complexity of human nature, and breaking it down to its most brutish form, his social contract theory fails to create a society in which is truly peaceful.

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