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In the book Leviathan, the argument of Hobbes is that the state of nature is the most terrible and nasty way by which people can ever live. Due to the absence of a superior authority charged with enforcing law and protecting human rights, and due to the lack of guarantee that whatever we possess will remain ours permanently, people are constantly threatening one another. And, as a result, there is no teamwork and cooperation among people making constant war between people inevitable. The conflict is usually over possessions, territory or even spouses. This leads to the absence of peace and time even to pursue leisure activities with instance music and art among others.
Leviathan is divided into four books: Of Man, Of Common-wealth, Of a Christian Common-wealth, and Of the Kingdome of Darkness. Book I includes the philosophical framework for the whole text. Book II features the process surrounding the construction of Leviathan and gives a detailed coverage of the rights and privileges of sovereigns and subjects. Book III is about the compatibility of Hobbesian philosophy with the Christian doctrine, as well as the Leviathan’s religious system. Book IV talks about debunking of religious beliefs that are false and argues to achieve a safe Christian commonwealth; the political realization of the Leviathanic state is essential.
From the book, Hobbes argues that equality reigns among the mankind, i.e. each and every person is equal. From the context of understanding the idea of equality among the majority of westerners, this implies that every person has fundamentally equal rights. However, the way Hobbes perceives equality is different; he introduces the state of war into the state of nature further worsening it. In his view of the state of nature, Hobbes argues that each and every person is equal because every one of us is vulnerable equally. At some point in our daily life, we feel tired and go to sleep; therefore whoever wants to sleep should do this. We all have to sleep at some point, which means that when someone wants to take from us of our possessions must simply wait till we are sleeping or distracted for them to take our possessions. This means that there is the slight opportunity for a person to be stronger consistently than everybody else in order to be able to protect his property or enforce the property rights of others. Even the strongest man, who is a very intelligent person, still has to care for such fundamental body functions, as the sleep. This leaves each person at constant risk of being attacked by others, thus the one should get rid of any opportunity for even a small number of strong people rebalancing the power.
Hobbes’ proposed solution to this miserable life is for people to work together under a social contract. The fear of one another is likely to motivate people to consent for no more killing, stealing or war against each other. Hobbes introduces Leviathan as the people’s representative and the enforcer of rules. As a result, he has the control on such things, as stealing of property, violence, and other actions that occurred previously in the state of nature. In addition, Leviathan also is given authority to carry out any activity that is required to sustain the commonwealth, for instance, limiting liberties, and killing non–conformists, or any other people, who put the social contract in jeopardy.
Hobbes’ understanding of will and consent plays an important role in his supportive argument favoring the commonwealth system. He defines will as the final thought of an individual that has prior to decision making. He says that when an individual is coerced to consent to doing something against his will, it is still consent. Therefore, someone accepting the rules of Leviathan as an escape from the state of nature also gives his unstated consent to Leviathan to take whatever action he deems fit in the future to keep the society united. It is evident that in Leviathan, the ideology of consent is necessary for forming social contracts.
The book Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is certainly a groundbreaking advancement in the field of philosophy, especially the political philosophy. It presents the all-inclusive worldview on the basis of mechanic principles and creates a rational theory concerning governance. In addition, it also forms the basis of the contemporary political philosophy. His arguments are very insightful and relevant even in the issues happening in our modern world today; and it gives us the direction in our own political and philosophical discourses.
Prior to Hobbes, writers, over the year’s world widely, had acknowledged the divine right of rulers and paid little attention to how governments came into being. The concepts discussed in Leviathan, have grown to be standard in the political settings; today, for instance, the state of nature includes: the absolute and limited government, social contracts, absolute censorship, and civil disobedience among others. The political writing of Hobbes had greatly impacted on other philosophers and had become the basis for the works of such people, like: Locke, Smith, Spinoza, and Hume among other economic neo- liberalists in the earliest and as well in the modern times. He is indeed an excellent writer and his theories are very enriching, as well as easily understandable.
Leviathan is very enriching and informative and it cuts across all generations, both the past and present. The book forms the basis for today’s politics and philosophy making it a must-read book for anyone with the interest in history as well as the political philosophy. However, one weakness evident in the book is the fact that the book is written using old English making it extremely hard to understand for a modern reader. Republishing the book in the comparatively modern English would greatly improve understanding of such people like me. The language used in the book is also dry making it very boring to read. Something to note is that British philosophies have the same problem, i.e. the books of people like John Stuart Mill and John Locke are also very boring to read. Another thing about the book is that the numerous theories in the book have been disposed of over the last 300 years making many people not appreciate this work. In addition, the binding of the book is poor; it has the weak binding and the pages have margins that are nearly non-existent making it hard for somebody, who wants to take notes, to do so within the book.
For anyone with the interest in the current political culture and philosophy of governments,this excellent book is for you. There is certainly no reason why people, including students, should deprive themselves of the insights and arguments of this wonderful book. Other readings that will be useful while reading Leviathan include: Rossaeu’s Social contract, as well as the works of the above mentioned writers such as Locke, Adam Smith, and Macchiavelli among many of the others. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is indeed a ground-breaking book in the field of philosophy and politics; its insights and arguments have not only been educative but also enriching. Forming the basis of today’s political philosophy, this book is truly a treasure that is indispensable.