Thomas Hobbes Leviathan a Story About the Problems of the State

Published: 2021-07-19 00:15:08
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Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury was born on April 5th, 1588 in Westport, Wiltshire and lived in a time of great disruption. Hobbes was a key figure during the Enlightenment period and is considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. He was renown in the world of Academia and served as a mathematics tutor under the royal family of Charles I. During his lifetime, Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651. The contents of this book were heavily influential due to its theories on sovereignty and monarchy. Both of which were influenced by the English Civil War. The English War was between Charles I, King of England, King of Scotland and King of Ireland. The war took place after Charle I dissolved parliament, which allowed him to make decisions of governance solely based on his will.
This would surely prove volatile after he demanded that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer to be used in Scotland in 1638. This demand broke out what we know as the Bishops War. King Charles I accepted Scotland’s demands after they invaded, and this lead to the signing of the triennial act, which prohibited the King from dissolving government without parliament’s consent. Shortly after this treaty, Ireland in 1641 decided they had enough of Charles I governance and began an uprising which lead to war. King Charles I lost control of parliament. Thomas Hobbes was a Royalist, so in-fear of parliament persecuting him he fled from England to France, where he resided and began formulating his theories. Not only did Hobbes flee in fear of parliament, but King Charles I also fled, which lead to the divergence of the population of England, Scotland and Ireland. Years down the line following these events King Charles I would soon-be executed in 1649 under the act of treason, which ultimately marked the end and abolishment of the monarchy. The English Civil War of 1642 influenced ​Leviathan; Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 masterpiece. The Civil War influenced his theories on sovereign by presenting itself as a means to self-preservation and commonwealth and the necessity to have a monarch a single central power in order to avoid conflict. “The right of nature… is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life.”Self- preservation is a topic that Hobbes covered in his book Leviathan, in order for self-preservation you must also be sovereign. In order to be ‘Sovereign’, according to Thomas Hobbes, the individual must sacrifice themselves to supreme power; a power that can rule through fear, mandate laws and enact punishment. These two are connected due to self-preservation and commonwealth as a result of being sovereign, in order to preserve and strive, it is necessary to sacrifice oneself to an authority that seeks to mandate all. This is a key aspect of Leviathan and the influence of this theory is derived from acts of war and divergence of kingdoms. As contextualized earlier, it is apparent that kingdoms under the rule of King Charles I were under great disruption. The crumbling of government and allocation of powers made for a population that had no clear ruler, instead many rulers that operated within the same kingdom. Thomas Hobbes was convinced that if there was no supreme authority, chaos would unfold, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Hobbes describes a world of war and no real structure; such as the English Civil war would entail.
Self-preservation of one’s life cannot be achieved in a world filled with violence, lack of social structure and poor academia. To be sovereign and possess commonwealth or self-preservation is of utmost importance, and the English Civil Wars painted a clear image for Hobbes that allowed him to realize a world filled with brutish, nasty and spiteful life is inevitable unless the supreme authority of governance across states is enacted and mandated life. There is no law without a lawmaker. The ruler of the sovereign should act as a government, meaning that it is necessary that laws are created, interpreted and exercised in order to maintain peace, commonwealth and self-preservation for individuals. Without the authority of law, crime will inevitably consume man for reasons such as possession, success, glory and reputation. The English Civil War influenced this theory by presenting the notion that states under the same federal power that are split up exercise their own authority and law, making for a kingdom that lacks uniformity and absence of a common supreme-state leader, which leads to chaos.
The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice and injustice In this excerpt, Hobbes explains that if there is a lack of uniformity in the form of a common power, there can be no justice and injustice. In the context of the English Civil War, kingdoms which previously functioned under the same state split up. This revolution made for a lack of uniformity in law due to the separation of powers that belonged to the same state, thus proving that self-preservation in a state infested with war cannot fully be achieved. Considering all things previously spoken about, the sovereign is supposed to act as a supreme-authority that is fit to lead and create law for its citizens. The English Civil War proved to Thomas Hobbes that self-preservation of life and commonwealth cannot be obtained in a war-filled state.

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