Political debates and thoughts have been inevitable both in the past and in the present. Out of these debates, hundreds of philosophical thinkers have emerged. Among these philosophers are Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Karl Marx, Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes.
These philosophers have explored the nature and character of political activities. As depicted in these philosophers’ studies, political thoughts aim at tackling issues related to political life. As such, political thoughts focus on several social issues such as social standards, moral codes, and principles.
This paper focuses on Hobbes’ intentions. Initially, the paper will draw attention to Hobbes’ intentions as a means of putting moral and political philosophy onto scientific basis. Secondly, the paper will focus on Hobbes’ intentions as a means of establishing civic peace and disposing of humankind toward fulfilling their civic duty.
Thomas Hobbes was born in the year 1588 in Malnesbury (Morgan 576). To date, the English philosopher has become famous for his contribution to the social contract theory. On the other hand, the philosopher became infamous for asserting that individuals should surrender to the authority of total sovereign power. His contributions have influenced the advancement of political philosophy and the expansion of additional logical philosophical positions.
His contributions towards moral philosophy have not been influential compared to his contributions towards political philosophy. Notably, his theories of moral philosophy have been ambiguous to most individuals. This ambiguity results from the discrepancies that emerge when analyzing the application of his laws of nature.
Hobbes’ intentions as a means of putting moral and political philosophy onto scientific basis
Before the 17th century, moral philosophy and political philosophy were thought to be independent of natural sciences. It was believed that the two fields of philosophy were not related to any natural science but rather on human experiences. However, after reading through Hobbes’s works it became apparent that the philosopher intended to put moral and political philosophy onto scientific basis.
Through our everyday activities, we discover the principles of the two fields of psychology. Equally, I noted that proofs in political philosophy are related to the proofs exhibited in the natural sciences. In this regard, it is clear that Hobbes’s intentions were towards putting moral and political philosophy onto scientific basis.
In his works, the philosopher believes that moral philosophy is part of motion of science. Through this argument, the philosopher states that moral philosophy studies motions of the mind just in the same way physics focuses on activity of physical entities. I believe that through this argument, the philosopher was trying to substantiate the validity of his moral principles from a scientific basis.
It is true that our minds exist in different states such as jealousy, greed, and self-centeredness. By relating these changes to the science of motion, the philosopher managed to associate moral philosophy with sciences of motion. In his analysis of moral philosophy, the philosopher emphasizes that political philosophy is all about the study of persons and motion of their parts.
According to Leviathan, the philosopher claims that the motions of external physical objects have an effect on our sense organs (Morgan 580). Through this theory, he claims that our mental experiences resulting from these effects. Hobbes characterized these effects as appetites and aversions. As such, an appetite is described as an undertaking that causes an individual to search for a specific entity.
On the contrary, an aversion is an undertaking that causes an individual to keep away from a particular entity. In addition, I believe that Hobbes intended to put moral and political philosophy onto the scientific basis to attain knowledge and to illustrate his findings to others. Before him, philosophy never drew conclusions based on scientific facts but rather on everyday experiences. Being a pioneer, Hobbes exploited is scientific knowledge about coming up with philosophical conclusions.
Similarly, after analyzing his work I believe that Hobbes achievements in political philosophy became a success because of him putting this field of philosophy onto scientific methods. In agreement with these methods, he referred to as resolutive-compositive, I believe that the philosopher was able to affirm all disputable conception of politics as political facts.
Through scientific knowledge, the philosopher was able to reduce these disputes into elements. Thereafter, the philosopher reconstructed these disputes. For instance, he was able to break the commonwealth into its primary parts in the same way the motion of the mind was done (Morgan 582). Thereafter, he was able to reconstruct commonwealth by allowing it to be in its original state prior to its formation.
By studying the behavior of individuals in this state, the philosopher was able to identify the causes of the commonwealth. Similarly, through this approach, he was able to affirm that moral philosophy was part of physics. Similarly, I believe that through this approach, the philosopher was able to come up with basic ethical principles that enabled us to deduce philosophical conclusions.
Contribution to the establishment of civic peace and disposing of humankind toward fulfilling their civic duty
After analyzing Hobbes’ studies, I believe that his intentions were also geared towards the establishment of civic peace and disposing of humankind toward fulfilling their civic duty. As such, he argues in the social contract theory that earlier philosophers with the exception of Machiavelli had failed because they founded their political philosophies on humankind’s ambitions. By opposing earlier philosophers’ thoughts, he was able to come up with a code that bonded and determined the purpose of the society.
Hobbes argues that in the state of nature, institutions such as the government and the armed forces are not in existence. In this state, all individuals have equal needs. Despite the fact that some individuals are more powerful than others are, less powerful individuals can gang up to subdue the stronger individual. In addition, the state of nature allows individuals to have competing interests.
Therefore, in the bid to prevent conflicts from escalating, Hobbes urged economic and political organizations to use every means to ensure that the society is held together. For this to be achieved, the philosopher stated that the citizens must be ready to surrender equal rights as they expect other individuals to surrender.
Equally, through this approach, the philosopher argued that citizens must be able to form a social contract. According to the philosopher, the social contract was not to be signed between the citizens and the elites but among the citizens. In the contract, citizens were to sign a contract accepting to be ruled by a centralized government. Through this approach, the minority was supposed to accept the majority decision.
Based on the above analysis, it is apparent that Hobbes believed that without the state individuals would be at war with each other due to the differences of interests. Therefore, through his studies he aimed at illustrating to the masses the importance of civic peace. Notably, during his era the theory of social contract was underdeveloped. In this regard, I believe that the society then exhibited some of the traits he described in the state of nature. Therefore, due to the need to uphold civic peace he formulated the social contract theory.
In general, Hobbes’ arguments about the state of nature affirm his intentions. In the sate on nature’s laws, the philosopher argues that everyone should seek peace with other individuals unless these individuals are not willing to make peace. I believe that through these arguments Hobbes was after instilling peace in his audience.
In the first part of the law of nature, he argues that if individuals uphold the state of peace they will meet their yearning for self-preservation. However, it should be noted that peace could only be attained through the agreement of two or more parties. If the other parties refused to seek peace, the philosopher in the second part of the law of the state of nature argues that individuals are free to resort to violence.
If people seek peace through the means argued above, it is apparent that they will ultimately be disposed towards fulfilling their civic rights. To escape the situations illustrated in the state of nature, individuals will be required to give up some of their liberties. These liberties may include liberty to steal, liberty to assault, and many more. Thereafter, social institutions will be required to enforce the social contract.
By enforcing the social contract, these institutions will ensure that any individual who will go against the contract is punished in accordance with the existing laws. Since Hobbes envisioned these situations in his works, it is obvious that he intended that through his works human beings could be disposed toward fulfilling their civic rights.
I believe that the governments and other social institutions have fulfilled Hobbes’ forecasts. As such, in the modern society we have submitted to be governed by the existing governments. This implies that as citizens we have signed a social contract with our fellow citizens to uphold peace for the benefit of everyone.
Equally, I believe that citizens have several roles to play both in the government and in the civic life. These roles are categorized into social roles, economic roles, and political roles. By approving to play the above roles, we have all agreed to be governed by the existing states. In response, the governments have ensured that we all co-exist peacefully among ourselves by ensuring that any individual who compromises on the peaceful co-existence is charged accordingly.
In conclusion, it should be noted that Hobbes’ contribution to philosophy is immense. He became the first philosopher to put moral and political philosophy onto scientific basis. Through this, he was able to substantiate his theories.
Equally, I believe that compared to other philosophers Hobbes contributed most to the development of social contract theory, which is now exhibited in the social institutions. To date, his theories are still applicable in our political systems. This implies that his intention of establishing civic peace and disposing of humankind toward fulfilling their civic duty has been achieved.
Morgan, Michael L.. Classics of moral and political theory. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 1992 . Print.