No one has masterfully argued that people are essentially estranged as Thomas Hobes, the mordant and witty English philosopher. The natural human state, Hobbes maintained, is one of war “of every man, against every man.” Where there is no strong central government “to overawe them all,” then “men have no pleasure, but on the contrary a great deal of grief, in keeping company.” Life in such a state, Hobbes asserted in one of the most famous phrases in the literature of political theory, is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
2 levels of estrangement in Hobbes’s philosophy.
Psychological level and Ontological level
Hobbes was a materialist , he saw every reality as wholly definable in terms of space, time, and the laws of causation. The universe is composed of objects in motion. Hobbes believes that each person is concerned with personal safety.
Hobbes says that peace is needed by everyone.
Among the great political thinkers only one, Thomas Hobbes, maintained that in their purely worldly qualities people are essentially equal. Hobbes view people are les deserving of equal respect than of equal disdain.
Hobbes opposed constitutionalism because of his pessimistic appraisal of human nature. Many passages in Hobbes writings show that he did not desire or even envision the possibility of anything like modern totalitarianism.
For Hobbes, any division of power was an invitation to chaos.
John Locke defended the establishment of constitutional government in England and who influenced the framers of the American Constitution, clearly did not believe people to be equal in their observable qualities. They were, for Locke, equal only in the rights received from God.
Believed that most people have the sense to see that others have certain rights, such as the right to life, simply because they are human beings. Most people are disposed to respect these rights. Human reasonableness for Locke meant both the capacity and the inclination to live by reason.
The idea that government should be wholly detached in matters of belief, and individual men and women left completely on their own, developed fairly recently, only two or three hundred years ago Locke defended such a doctrine near the end of the seventeenth century.
(equality) John Locke, the prinicpal theorist of modern liberalism, apparently assumed that government would generally be carried on by a hereditary aristocracy.
(power and possessers) A person is not obliged to obey unless he has voluntarily agreed to do so. At one point Locke seems to imply that not only does the founding of a government require consent but that every governmental act significantly affecting a person’s life or rights requires consent, for he writes that “the Supream Power cannot take from any Man any part of his Property without his own consent.” The theory that political obligatrion is based on consent subordinates government to freedom. Even assuming that Locke did not mean to go so far as to require consent for every particular governmental act, his general pint is that nothing can be rightfully demanded of us that does not accord with each one’s uncoerced and conscious will.
(limits) Lockes views were drawn from a solidly established medieval tradition, itself the outgrowth of an ancient Greek and Roman constitutionalist tradition.
(ends) Locke based his individualism, in economic and spiritual matters alike, on the same broad principles, and that the typical American liberal has rejected these principles in regard to the one area but clings to them in regard to the other. Locke assumed a certain essential estrangement among human beings. Locke also assumed that despite estrangement there is a natural harmony among individuals. If each one is left free to seek out and affirm one’s own personal truth, universal truth will emerge spontaneously. Locke conceived of freedom primarily as the absence of governmental restraint.
He doesn’t say that life without government would be terrible or impossible. He says that a government may save time and annoyance by doing for its citizens what they would have to do for themselves.
(estrangement) Karl Marx, the major intellectual source of socialism and communism, has shaken Western institutions more profoundly than any utterance since the Reformation. The key to Marx’s attitude lay in the importance he attributed to economic conditions. Marx held that our ideas and feelings in truth our whole nature are shaped by our economic situation.
Marx identified classes in economic terms because his emphasis on the formative power of economic circumstances allowed no other differentia to be of primary significance. The main class division is between people who own nothing and thus have to work and people who own property and thus command the resources on which the lives of all others depend. According to Marxa human being cannot be identified with any abstract, changeless concept of human nature We are what we do; our nature is defined by our work. Marx doesn’t think there could be any unity among the classes even if there were no serious conflict of interest dividing them. Marx believed that there was such a conflict. Owners of the means production are compelled by the system of production to oppress the workers. The most effective oppostion to Marxism has probably come from those who hold that while justice does not sanction the division of society into separate and unequal classes, all classes can perceive the requirements of justice and can be brought to cooperate in eradicating, or at least mitigating, class distinctions. Liberals tend to agree with Marx.
(equality) Marx and Rousseau alike stood for the general principle of radical democracy, government carried on either directly by the people or by representatives held closely to the immediate will of the people.
(inequality) Marx assumed liberty and equality to be interdependent. Many of his most determined opponents deny that this is so. One of the chief pointes of contention in this controversy is capitalism. Marx believed that capitalism created the kind of highly developed industrial order that would render both liberty and equality accessible but that capitalism has to be replaced by socialism before humankind could lay hold of these benefits. Marxs opponents, many of them, assert that liberty and equality are in conflict, but that capitalism provides as large a measure of each as is practically attainable.
Rousseau believed that through thinking we alienate ourselves from reality and from our own being. Rousseaus assertion that a human being can be forced to be free is a paradox.. Since we usually assume that being forced and being free are opposite states.
(ends of power) Rousseau and Marx, who thought that governments rarely if ever sought a common good, concentrated on showing how the reign of selfishnes might be overcome.
(limits) Rousseau never explicitly attacked constitutional government. Rousseau seems to envision a commonwealth in which the lives of individuals are asorbed into the common life and regulated in every detail by the popular will. Rousseau demands that anyone refusing to subscribe to the articles of this faith be banished and that anyone who does subscribe to them and then “behaves as if he does not believe them” should be put to death.
(power and possessers) says we are deprived of our humanity by having to live under a government in which we have no part. He thought they possessed what amounts to moral and political sanctity, the people. One result is the theory of the “general will” which was definitively formulated by Rousseau, although it had been implicit in other political philosophies, such as those of Plato and Aristotle