Question 1: In his book, Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes provided a very radical, innovative, and contradictory answer to what he believed to be the origin and purpose of the state. He argues that the State exists because of a social contract with its people. The passage reads, “hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. ” As mentioned in this statement, the social contract rests on the belief that the natural state of men is war and that they are inherently selfish and violent.
As a result of this violent state in the nature of people, Hobbes explained that a State that possessed absolute authority is essential in order to help the people of the state protect themselves from each other. Hobbes stated, “the only way to erect such a common power, [. . . ], is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will. ” As this quote explains, the purpose of state is to create a common law that will to help the people of the state protect themselves from each other.
This is because as mentioned earlier, the state of nature for human beings is constant war, with death being the fear of every person and the pursuit of peace the ultimate goal of life. As a result, the common law is the means to this end and therefore all citizens are willing to give their inherent right to themselves to one man or assembly of men in order to secure peace and to avoid violent death. In the absolute monarchy that Hobbes proposes in this book, he does not recognize any limitations to the State and offers no options to appeal to the monarch.
Question 2: Based on my reading of the Politics, Aristotle would have mostly disagreed with Hobbes. For example, whereas Hobbes proposed an absolute monarchy, Aristotle proposed a mixed government, which is also known as a constitutional government. He mentioned in his book, “For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has in view the interest of the wealthy; democracy, of the needy: none of them the common good of all. ” In this quote, he explains his view on the possible associated with each type of government, rejecting monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy.
Another, key idea which Hobbes and Aristotle would have disagreed on is their nature and position people. Aristotle stated, “The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficient, and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. ” Whereas Aristotle views the people as an integral part of the state, a sort of partnership, Hobbes sees the State as something all people submit themselves to.
Not only that, but Hobbes’s view on the purpose of government was a defense system since the natural state of people is violence whereas, Aristotle explained the purpose of the ideal State would be one that pursued the common good. In this way, Hobbes’ ruler has complete and total control over all individuals in the commonwealth, and alone has judgment as to who can live or die. Aristotle’s individual, in contrast, has the right to defend himself, the right to his own well-being and wealth.
Consequentially, Aristotle recognizes limits to the power of the State unlike Hobbes. John Locke agreed with Hobbes that the government is created by the people through a social contract and is created to protect our natural rights of life, liberty, and property. They possessed very different views on the state of nature. Hobbes stated that “all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions […] there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us that may authorize us to destroy one another. Unlike Hobbes who as mentioned believed that natural state of men was violent, Locke explained that the state of nature of individuals was free, equal, and autonomous. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Hobbes, “Leviathan,” Primary Sources, 27 [ 2 ]. Hobbes, “Leviathan,” Primary Sources, 27 [ 3 ]. Aristotle, “Politics,” Primary Sources, 8 [ 4 ]. Aristotle, “Politics,” Primary Sources, 7 [ 5 ]. Nathan Warner, “Aristotle vs. Hobbes,”, http://socyberty. com/philosophy/aristotle-vs-hobbes (accessed March 15, 2013). [ 6 ]. John Locke, “Second Treatise of Government,” Primary Sources, 31