Thomas Hobbes was born the year of the Spanish Armada, and lived in England through the English Civil War. Therefore, times were not exactly peaceful. In addition to the Civil War, England was economically unstable, plague ridden, and run by gangs rather than police. His perspective on life was shaped by his times, and he stated that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, and short.” Hobbes’ most famous work, Leviathon, demonstrates his views of mankind, and proposes a social contract theory based on these beliefs. His ideas of a social contract theory were revolutionary and still influence government in the modern era. Yet his theory has many weaknesses because of his outlook on mankind.
Since Hobbes’ view was extremely narrow, so is his Leviathon. His theory of social contract applies well to 17th century Civil War England, but outside of this time period, it is very constraining to modern society. Hobbes thought that society must give up its freedom for liberty and security. Although the people are not free, they are safe, which he assumed was better for society. However, life and security was all society could expect from this contract. The Leviathon, who would be created by this contract, was the only man, or body of government that was truly free. The Leviathon uses this power to keep the peace as best as it saw fit. This left no check on the Leviathon, and once created, Hobbes stated that the Leviathon must continue to exist despite his actions.
The ultimate power of the Leviathon is the next weakness of his social contract theory. Since the people of a society were responsible for creating the Leviathon, they were therefore responsible for its actions. Oppression of its people was seen as a way to keep the peace. Society has no right to rebel against the Leviathon because they created it. The right to rebel was an idea later added by John Locke, but Hobbes did not think this right was valid. What this created was a Leviathon who answered to nobody, and as...
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