Hobbesian Understanding of Rationality - Essay Sample

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Hobbes was the first philosopher to connect politics and philosophy. He describes human nature by explaining the state of man. According to Hobbes, human beings have various needs and therefore requires a political system that can enable them to meet their needs. Thomas Hobbes describes human in two different ways: as one who lives in a state of nature, a citizen living in society. He had a pessimistic view of man where he described human beings as evil. According to Hobbes, the man was intrinsically empowered to preserve life through all means necessary, and how he creates an authorization for an outright sovereign power to help retain peace and protect life. Man would do anything morally possible to self-preservation (Rachels and Rachels 53). Thomas called for social contract theory following the inherently evil nature of man as a means of keeping the peace as well as preserving life.

According to Thomas, every human being has the right to exercise his/her talent for the sake of self-perseveration and development. In his writing, he imagines how life would be with the state of nature when there is no governing body to have control over peoples behavior (Rachels and Rachels 87). When everyone would have a right to do anything and everything in the universe what would lead to a war of all against all ruining peace that all humans deserve. In his view, an absolute rule can put into place some rules and regulations that limit human beings. Without principles into place, man will exercise their inherently evil nature and do anything possible for self-satisfactory.

To avoid escalation of war and bring man under control, people should assent to the social contract. Hobbes describes society as a population beneath an independent authority whereby all individuals in it relinquish their natural rights to protection. Any misuse of power from the body should be tolerated for the sake of peace. Human beings should endure the pain that comes with absolute power for peaceful coexistence (Rachels and Rachels 61). In as much as the governing body abuse of power need to be tolerated, people will naturally rebel to severe cases. They should have their limits and allow the people also to enjoy their freedom. According to Hobbes, the people should be allowed to exercise their moral rights. In his writing, the principle of power separation is rejected and insist that the sovereign must be in control of the military, civil, religious and judicial powers. The monarch must also justify its exercise of authority against the will of its citizens. Here, the government is not free to over-exercise their supremacies over the citizens without any genuine justification.

Hobbes talked about liberty rights whereby no one should be refrained from doing anything. With this reason, two or more people may have the freedom to the same action or thing and will not have to compete with anyone to exercise it (Rachels and Rachels 187). All human has the right to liberty and should not be stopped by anyone or any powers from using their rights. In this view, even the governing body should not infringe on peoples liberty rights. Hobbes compelled subjects to surrender all their rights and vest all liberties in the supreme for the preservation of peace, life, and prosperity. It is through that obligation that the natural law became a moral directive to the authority for the protection of peoples natural rights. To Hobbes, all the rules are dependent on the sanctions of the sovereign.

Hobbes also talked about the moral experience that showed that human beings are motivated by power, pleasure, and vanity. He explained how a passion for conceit undermined traditional political authority where the kings had to rely on the higher law to earn peoples respect. From Thomas view, wealth was seen as a means of gaining respect from the people, and they could go to any extent to become wealthy. The self-centeredness of human beings drives them to do anything possible to their satisfaction (Rachels and Rachels 211). The traditional higher law principles are easily abused by ambitious and vain men claiming superiority to the governing body. They take advantage of the divine knowledge, natural and common law and uses their vanity to overthrow the government. Hobbes cites King Charles 1 who was ousted by clergymen, lawmakers, and parliamentarians who claimed they had superior knowledge of the higher law. Equating higher laws to intangible goods like wisdom, virtue, and salvation can never stop the ills of civilization. Therefore, humanity will never enjoy civil peace.

Thomas had a perception that all men are created equally though each person saw himself or herself smarter than the other. In this case, everyone believes in themselves cannot agree to be under others. In his writings, Hobbes said: "[men] will hardly believe there are many as wise as themselves; for they see their wit at hand and other men's at a distance." Hobbes argued that psychological egoism of human beings would eventually result in a war where they will fight against one another. The battle will cause unrest among humanity and peace will cease in the entire universe (Rachels and Rachels 75). Due to this, Thomas came up with his first law of nature that states: that every man, should endeavor harmony, as far as he has a hope of obtaining it (Rachels and Rachels 141). Meaning, a man should seek peace since it will grant them the best for their survival. For the people to attain this, humanity had to enter a contract where they voluntarily surrendered their rights and freedom to an authority who can command obedience. The duty of the governing body was to protect and preserve their lives and properties, and that led to the formation of institutions like a monarch (Rachels and Rachels 171).

Ethics usually compel people to do what is against their will. Therefore they do have the right not to listen to reasons (Rachels and Rachels 114). Morality is one thing that many people struggles to attain since it requires much sacrifice. Many people try to be moral for the sake of righteousness but not for fear of any punishment. Morality cannot be forced into someone, and not even the government can force one to live a moral life. Genuine happiness usually come to people that live a righteous life whenever they look back upon their previous lives and realize they treated others with kindness and humanity. It is upon every person decide on what is good or bad and not the authorities to impel them.

Works cited

Rachels, Stuart, and James Rachels. The Elements of Moral Philosophy., 2015. Print.

Rachels, Stuart, and James Rachels. The Right Thing to Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy., 2015. Print


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