“Government is necessary, not because man is naturally bad, but because man is by nature more individualistic than social.”
The following paper analyzes “On the Citizen,” written by Thomas Hobbes; the book is originally titled as “De Cive” and published in 1651. The book depicts the Hobbes’ political perceptions and conceptions in their entirety. “On the Citizen” is based on the precise, uncomplicated and expository approach and offers a substantially significant insight. Throughout its content, Hobbes attempts to present the challenges encountered by human nature and asserts that man carries a powerfully positive proclivity regarding the communal lifestyle. The innovative perspective of Hobbes modifies the conventional dogma of natural law by keeping the language of nature’s laws however, he revises their essence.
An Italian priest named Thomas Aquinas, and his scholastic followers believe that natural law is an accumulation of moral principles which are inscribed on the hearts of human by Almighty God and humans realize them through the exposition of conscience and in turn opt for the path of prosperity and enlightenment. However, Hobbes argues this idea through describing contrasting natural laws. According to Hobbes, natural laws guide a human regarding what should be done or not for a prolonged probable defense of “life and limb.” (Hobbes, 1651) In the light of Thomas Hobbes subject proposition; God is present in the role of promulgator meanwhile conscience becomes the foundation and human beings’ prosperity as the outcome of natural law. Furthermore, he refers to the arguments provided in Leviathan and refuses to accept the nature’s laws as an actual set of rules.
In the due course, Hobbes incorporates a few underlying traditional aspects of natural law by altering their conventional meanings. While persuading the theory of Hobbes it becomes evident that nature’s laws are all about the natural rights to preserve oneself. Nevertheless, the concept of self-preserving is present in the theoretical framework of other philosophers, including Thomas Aquinas, but it is rather based on higher purposes and therefore is subject to be foregone on some occasions. In this context, the eradication of higher ends and the element of sacrifice from the principles of natural laws add a distinct characteristic to the theory of Hobbes and make it different from other traditional standpoints.
The analytical findings of Hobbes explicate that the fundamental law of nature is hidden in the presence of one’s self and therefore, humans seek peace whenever they are capable of. Meanwhile, in the absence of peace humans look forward to the help from the war. Consequently, the remaining natural laws which are about twenty-one in the count attaining derived from this rule and based on the commands on the source of either protecting self-defense or peace. Through further delving, it becomes clear that the most imperative law of nature is extracted from a rule that stresses the needs of transferring and abandonment of certain things so the right of that thing could be shared among many. This law is effective to be implemented in the field of politics and economics alike and will augment the efficacy of the overall system by implementing an equal distribution of rights. Furthermore, historically it is proven that resistance to give up the rights often ends up in the form of war and therefore a perpetual peace can be acquired through the adequate distribution and transmission of certain rights.
The second law of nature is described by Hobbes by underlining the importance of abiding by one’s agreements and pacts. This law of Hobbes elaborates the fact that a person can only have the power to do wrong with the persons or entities he is contracted with. And lawful justice only can take place in case of eliciting and positive contractual treaties among two individuals. Through this proposition, Hobbes rebuts the theories of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas and believes that justice and lawful practices emerge synthetically out of humanly made conventions. Forcefully, Hobbes declares that fulfilling agreements and promises are the moral onus of a human and affirms that obligations are based on the element of caution. He further explains that one is obligated to abide by the agreement because they cannot break the promises without causing them perilous outcomes and such risks can be the short and long-term in nature. On the other hand, in the absence of any legal agreement one can cease the obligation after confirming the lack of bargain from another party. By making this point Hobbes denies the natural law rules of the Thomas Aquinas that makes nature’s law more conditional than categorical.
Human beings have an instinct that naturally tends them to seek goodness, and therefore all human want to augment their power in the search for subject goodness. In turn, this power-hunt leads them to conquer other humans. Throughout this book, Hobbes identifies several laws of nature and their implications and ignores the logic of keeping agreements to endure the power of such forces which daunt humans from doing so. Additionally, he says that such passions, therefore, should be offset by more extreme ardor and must be tackled with violent demise and terror. These extremities and intensities of Hobbes propositions about nature’s law make them unsatisfactory and impractical for establishing and sustaining the peace in a society. And for these reasons, an adequately constituted power of sovereignty is indispensable for the development of the commonwealth.
Hobbes, Thomas. On the Citizen. Cambridge University Press, 2013.