A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THOMAS HOBBES’ CONCEPT OF THE LEVIATHAN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of contents
Background of the study
The statement of the problem
Purpose of the study
Significance of the study
Scope of the study
HOBBES: THE BACKGROUND OF HIS POLITICAL THOUGHT.
2.1Hobbes’ Life and Philosophy
2.2Influences on Hobbes
2.3Hobbes on Human Nature
2.4The Social Contract Theory
HOBBES CONCEPTION OF THE LEVIATHAN.
3.2The Contract and the power of the sovereign
3.3Individualism and liberalism
SUMMARY OF HOBBES VIEW OF THE LEVIATHAN
4.1A Critical survey of the Hobbesian analysis of the leviathan
1.1THE BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
This study is an attempt to examine the idea of the Leviathan in Thomas Hobbes political philosophy. Before we discuss his philosophy of society we need to know what was happening before he came.
There Was the problem of the excessive use of power in the society.One could rule in as much as he commanded obedience from others by the use of brute power and force. This led to conflict and self-centeredness among humans.
An attempt to escape from the above crisis led Hobbes to postulate a common wealth or the state as a platform for organizing human beings or what he called the Leviathan. The idea of the Leviathan aimed at providing a means by which men can overcome the disorder in the natural state.The people needed the state of nature, to fashion a contract, giving all their power to one man who becomes the sovereign.
From the above, the research question is this; Is the Leviathan construed either as a ruler or a State able to solve the problem of insecurity, self-centeredness and the egoism in the nature of man? Will the absolute power embedded in a Leviathan not lead to tyranny and abuses? These are some of the issues that this study intends to look into critically.
1.2STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problem of this study can be put in question form:
Is the Leviathan immune to the egoistic nature of man which he has been chosen to guard against? Can the chaos and conflict which exists on the state of nature be eliminated with the institution of the common wealth? How does the Leviathan intend to tackle the problem of behaviorism and human nature which is egoistic and self-centered in order to ensure a peaceful human society wherein people will be law abiding? Will the absolute power embedded in the sovereign not lead to tyranny, totalitarianism and abuse? This project work tries to tackle some of these questions.
1.3THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This work aims at critically analyzing the concept of the Leviathan. It also attempt to proffer solutions to the problems identified in Hobbes theory.This work studies Hobbes notion of the society and how human beings can live together peacefully in a society. We may ask; how can humans evolve a peaceful system where law and order are properly defined?
1.4THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant in the sense that it emphasizes the wider breath of Hobbes conception of the leviathan. His intention is to capture all areas of life with an attempt of reconstructing the society into a better one by proffering the Leviathan. Effort will be made to review and apply his concept of the Leviathan in examining the view of human nature as egoistic and individualistic and how we can evolve a stable and viable society from such a human nature.
1.5THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project work examines critically the concept of the Leviathan in Hobbes social and political philosophy. It looks into other concepts like the state of nature which led to the postulation of Leviathan. It advances theory and knowledge by expanding the view of other social contractarians in order to give a balanced view of our topic of study.
This research work uses the method of critical analysis to examine the idea of the Leviathan in Hobbes. The research tools to be used are archival materials such as textbooks, encyclopedia and internet sources. By using the critical method this study seeks to provide a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the idea of the Leviathan and the extent to which it can be a viable option for bringing about order, peace and cooperation in the society.
The first book to be reviewed, is Thomas Hobbes Leviathan; by John plamenatz. He argued that The Leviathan was “chosen or instituted when men do agree and covenant every one that to whatsoever man or assembly of men shall be given by the major part the right to present the person of them all, that is to say to be their representative”.2 The Leviathan ensures them living in peace amongst themselves and be protected against other men.
The second book to be reviewed, is Elements of Philosophy by Samuel Enoch Stumpf and Donald C. Abel. Here,the argument is that the civil society created by the social contract must have power to punish those who transgress the agreement. Convinced that fear is the greatest motivator, the state must have sufficient positive power to terrify its citizens into obedience3
The third book to be reviewed is History of Political Thought by Anthony O. Okoh. Here there is an argument for the provision of an absolute ruler The Leviathan.He believed that it was only an absolute ruler that could tame the wicked tendencies which exhibited in the state of nature4.
The fourth book to be reviewed, is Philosophy Made Simple by Richard H.P.Here it was understood that since sovereignty is created by a covenant or contract, the subject retains all those natural rights that cannot be transferred by covenant5 To put it differently, since the subject has entered into the contract to preserve and protect his life, the subject cannot refuse to obey the sovereign.
The fifth book to be reviewed ,is Ethics: A Systematic and Historical Study by Joseph Omoregbe. Here Hobbes argues that men decided to come together and form an organized society since life was so in secured in the state of nature. They came together, made a social contract, empowered the sovereign to decide what should be done and what should not be done in the society.