Government: Self-Preservation and Human Instinct

Topics: Political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau Pages: 4 (1375 words) Published: November 30, 2006
The concept of government came about from human instinct. At the very heart of government is our human nature to protect ourselves. Government arose from an individual's need to protect his or her well-being. As time went on, the individual gradually evolved into a large group that needed authority and protection. Machiavelli and Rousseau have both written popular pieces on the matter of government and the people's need for it. Despite the fact that Machiavelli and Rousseau take vastly different routes to explain the need for government, the human instinct of self-preservation is at the core of both their beliefs.

The idea of self-preservation is presented at two different extremes in the Machiavelli's The Prince and Rousseau's The Origin of Civil Society. Machiavelli presents self-preservation as something you consciously do for your own needs and the needs of society. Rousseau presents the idea of self-preservation as an action that began as instinctive and evolved into a conscious act for the benefit of all. The difference here is that Machiavelli is writing about how to lead a government while Rousseau is talking about the government and its evolution.. The closest thing prevalent to Machiavelli's form of leadership and self-preservation today can be found in modern day American mythology. The fictional character of Lex Luthor, from the Superman Comic Books, is mostly if not completely based of the beliefs of Machiavelli. In The Prince Machiavelli states, "I say that every prince must desire to be considered merciful and not cruel; nevertheless, he must take care not to misuse this mercy" (12). Essentially he is saying that the general populous must consider the leader merciful. Machiavelli focuses on appearances and how the citizens perceive their leader. Lex Luthor is a rich, shrewd business man who becomes President of The United States through false appearances. He also happens to be a very charismatic and likeable human being to...
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