Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau – Who’s Theory of Government is Most Compatible With Biblical Principles?

GOVT 302 Research Paper Instructions

You will prepare your Research Paper on the topic “Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau: Who’s  Theory of Government is most compatible with biblical principles?” Choose 1 of the 3 philosophers, and then compare and contrast all 3 philosophers on such topics as: human nature, natural law, human law, origin of government, purpose of government, civil disobedience, right of revolution, and government and religion.   In addition, use relevant ideas from the ethical and social theories of Adam Smith and David Hume in forging your evaluation.

In your Research Paper, develop and apply a critical criteria to explain both why you selected your author and why you did not choose the other authors. If you believe 1 author was more scriptural in certain aspects but another author was closer to Scripture in a different area, explain your position. The important point is not which philosopher you choose but how well you explain and defend your choice. Be specific by citing the individual points with which you agree and explaining why they are scriptural. You must use the textbooks and Scripture as references for this assignment. You may cite additional sources if you wish, but the majority of the references must be from the textbooks and Scripture.

Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau – Who’s Theory of Government is Most Compatible With Biblical Principles? – GOVT 302 Research Paper

Introduction

Theories of government are composite propositions that have influenced political thought of administration among leading and prominent systems of governance globally. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau are among notable philosophers lauded for their contribution to modern political notions. They all sought to gain a deeper understanding of the life before the development of institutions, the creation of systems of governance and citizen’s obligation when subjected to autocracy. This paper will employ a biblical world view when exploring significant aspects of theories of government while demonstrating the correlation between the views held by Thomas Hobbes and Biblical Scripture.

Hobbes’s Scientific Perspective

Scientific knowledge is a common factor in major Hobbesian propositions. So much so that it went as far as influencing his worldview and life’s work. Hobbes was well-versed in science and mathematics through which he had could test various phenomena while endeavoring to prove or disprove plausibility.1 An understanding of Hobbes’ scientific base is, therefore, imperative when attempting to decipher his political thought and ideas. In presenting his ideas, Hobbes was mostly trying to create a scientific foundation for ethical and political philosophy meant to aid society in arriving at a position where individuals were capable of performing their civic duties. Firm compression of this little-known fact, therefore, sheds more light on the main reason why specific tenets exist in Hobbes’s theory of government.

Read also The Fundamental Political Ideology of John Locke

Human Nature

Aspects of human nature are critical tenets in writings by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Theirs was a new era where leading philosophers were keen on conducting an in-depth analysis of human nature to influence modern thought. Out of the three aforementioned philosophers, the Hobbesian perspective provided the most accurate and constructive political idea. He specifically explored human beings from a depravity standpoint to gain a deeper understanding of the current state of nature. Hobbes proposed that the government was man’s response to chaos and a constant quest for peace. Furthermore, being political and social did not form a significant part of human nature. His was a clear concerted effort to avert malevolence at the core of the human psyche. Peace is, thus, presented more as a motivator for Hobbes when developing his theory. The government was also tasked with the creation of social constructs with the aim of creating a sense of collective consciousness. Locke, on the other hand, viewed this same state through a lens that also explored freedom and liberty. His idea was based on the idea that man was capable of coexisting without a government since peace is his natural state. Hence, the creation of an authority and government was regarded as an error since man was capable of living with others of his kind devoid of a common superior. Human beings were expected to behave rationally around each other while respecting boundaries. According to Hobbes, social constructs were created to prevent deterioration into a continual state of war, which would ultimately result in a state of anarchy. Society would now be subjected to a steep decline in industry, anxiety, and fear of violent death.

 Rousseau also presented his ideas on human nature, entirely dissimilar from those proposed by his philosophical counterparts. He was against sections of Hobbes’ and Locke’s propositions based on the foundation of their political thought. Rousseau was convinced that both Hobbes and Locke were far removed from the reality introduced by social contracts since they were of high stature in English society. He proposed a pre-historic standpoint to his argument. Rousseau’s belief juxtaposed that of Hobbes and Locke. Although Rousseau did take part of his idea from these two philosophers, he believed the base of their thinking was off kilter. Rousseau’s belief looked at a more pre-historic view and, because of this, had distinct hopes for humans in the state of nature. He was particularly against the idea that man would naturally be inclined to be social. Rousseau’s approach was based on the premise that socialization and the development of language are all but social contracts that would never have been realized in nature. Additionally, this type of nature would forge a new type of individual who did not fear death and pain. Foresight was non-existent in this state, which would render ethics and morality entirely unnecessary. Rousseau firmly believed that the state of nature was ideal for man since numerous opportunities to live outside the social contracts now existed. It is also imperative to evaluate each idea presented by the aforementioned philosophers from a scriptural standpoint. Locke’s propositions stand out as being anomalous since it assumes that man is inherently good and not strive for mere existence. It goes against Mark 7:21-23, which explicitly lists adultery, evil thoughts, pride, and envy as products of the human heart.

From this verse, one can deduce that a form of order was quite necessary in society to create a semblance of order and avoid the chaos that all too often leads to protracted conflict. The state of nature, as presented by Hobbes, bears noticeable hallmarks that align with biblical scripture. For instance, the fall of Adam and Eve is attributed to a deep-seated pride, which ultimately drove them to sin. Rousseau’s proposition holds water, although he regards human beings as beings close to animals. God’s commandment to Adam gave him dominion over other animals and placed him above other creatures. Using this argument, Rousseau’s argument falls short and does not align with biblical scripture. Hobbes’s proposition regarding the state of nature is most accurate of the two and consistent with biblical scripture. His proposal is based on the foundation that man is fallible, corrupt, and covetous. As stated in Jeremiah 17:9, deceit is at the core of human nature and difficult to detect. It is the primary reason why Cain went as far as killing his brother Abel.

The Origin of Government

John Locke presents a convincing argument regarding the state of nature. In fact, his idea is widely accepted by world leaders as one of the most accurate accounts relating to the origin of government. Locke’s idea was based on the premise that government was simply a creation of humanity that currently has numerous manifestations. It also resulted in a contract between individuals and the state where they would give up their freedom to allow the government to play the role of a protector. Locke posited that individuals were responsible for their destinies and owned their labor.

Read also How John Locke Views Personal Identity – Sample Essay

He regarded labor as part of a person’s body, which was also why he insisted that individuals safeguard it at all costs. This “natural property” created the basis for every other type of property and only available in a state of nature. Locke also had sentimental value to land. He believed it was through it that man obtained food and made huge leaps in society by harnessing labor from individuals. Locke thought that land was a valuable asset that had to be safeguarded at all costs. One of the methods employed in such an instance entailed giving the government the authority to secure the property and establish specific rights relating to the task at hand.

           However, Locke’s perspective raises fundamental questions regarding his stance on the state of nature. He fundamentally contradicts his proposition by claiming that a person’s area always bound to be just in their actions within a state of nature. This seems to imply that every individual was responsible for their protection and should, therefore, not depend upon the government for any form of protection. In a state of nature, man is always thought to have good intentions, but this notion raises key questions surrounding the reasons why governments are required, given the fact that man is noble. This idea raises more questions than answers since it is contradictory to create a government for individuals who are seemingly flawless and have proven their capability in developing amicable relationships. Inconsistencies are, therefore, resent in Locke’s ideas regarding the state of nature, which now affects the integrity of his beliefs.

           A review of Hobbes central ideas is also critical when seeking to gain a broad understanding of the origin of government and what it has come to represent in modern politics. One of the key elements in his idea of government is the inner nature and importance of the transfer of power between the government and its citizens. It is through this social contract that human beings first resorted to the creation of governments through a systematic exchange with citizens willing to give up their freedom. This exchange was vital in determining the rights and freedoms of the subordinate, who would typically be expected to accept any decision arrived at and implemented by the sovereign. Hobbes’ theory also presented ideas that were initially thought of as unusual during his time. For instance, the sovereign did not have any obligation to perform any duty or provide services to the citizens. This would occur even when these same individuals gave up their power through a consensus, before proceeding to obey every edict implemented by the sovereign. Hobbes referred to this as a socially constructed government where citizens struck an agreement based on the majority being given the opportunity to govern over their contemporaries. 3. All this is then selected by a vote to determine the rightful ruler and his stint at the helm of power. Individuals who shun this contract continue in their continual state of war and animosity with their neighbors. One inimitable quality about Hobbes’s work is that he always concise concerning his opinions about government but never forgot to leave room for additional interpretation by experts. It is worth noting that he is not specific on whether elected leaders in a democracy, republic, or absolute monarchy are best suited for state governance. He only urges the citizens to provide approval and create a government based squarely on their consent. Hobbes’s perspectives allude to biblical scriptures related to leadership. The Israelites had long been ruled by judges and longed for a new system of governance which would now involve installing a king. Although it is not clear which type of government existed during this period, God dissuaded the Israelites from having a king for their own good. According to Mark 12:17 individuals were expected to pay their taxes and serve God.

  This verse is a clear indicator that God was not specific in the type of government he expected gentiles to adhere to but also an indication that it aligns with biblical scripture.

Rousseau, on the other hand, was a humanist who believed that man is not different from other animals and should endeavor to treat them equally. These opinions are expertly explored when investigating the origin of government. Rousseau regarded society as an artificial construct that did not suit humanity’s progress. Additionally, he viewed the family unit as the only natural society that has ever existed since the dawn of time. Rousseau’s opinion on the formation of government is also quite similar to Hobbes’s proposition. They both believed in individuals giving up their rights and freedoms to the government for peace and tranquility. General will was, thus at the center of his theory on the government where interests were carefully discerned for an egalitarian approach, which assured the community of the best outcomes. Rousseau’s idea of government was based on the viewpoint that the conglomerate of individuals coming together in society was responsible for the development of the community through general will.  An area of concern which emerges from this proposition is that it does not regard self-governance as a plausible reality. Rousseau’s theory of government also expects the government to shoulder the decision-making responsibility, which may be incorrect. This theory presents numerous questions regarding its practicality in modern society.

Civil Disobedience

           Autocracy is a common theme that has featured in Europe’s political history. Locke was aware of this reality during the formulation and endeavored to explore aspects of this particular state. He investigated the possibility of excesses in executive power and the emergence of tyranny in seemingly democratic societies. Locke regarded civil disobedience as the only option available for citizens in a situation where they had lost control and were subject to a sovereign’s dictatorial tendencies. Any illegal actions by the executive were to be met by a continual tirade of civil disobedience to restore the society to a state where citizens retained their sense of control. Civil disobedience was, therefore, justified as a means to an end even though many think of it as an extreme alternative. However, it is important t acknowledge that Locke did not insist on civil disobedience as the first and only option available to the citizenry. He urged scrutiny of any situation before ultimately concluding that civil disobedience was the best possible option. This action was rationalized by the fact that illegal activities were tantamount to a government being at war with its own people. In 16th century Europe, kings were known for their vile disposition and a vice-like grip on power that eventually caused unimaginable suffering to the common folk. Locke’s theory was based on the idea that citizens were obligated to rebel and act in defiance whenever required to serve a rogue executive committing atrocities against his people.

           Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that defiance is rejected in biblical scriptures. Adherents of Abrahamic religions are expected to obey leaders and avoid actions tantamount to civil disobedience. However, religious teachings have now been tweaked to ensure they fit into modern political themes. One such example is the fact that individuals are now taught to disobey the government in case it requires members of society to disobey God’s command blatantly. It is now common to encounter teachings focusing on civil disobedience being offered in local chapels and churches. These teachings are largely in congruence with those espoused by Locke.

Civil disobedience should only be conducted under a set of special circumstances; when their basic values are violated by being urged to participate in activities that go against God’s word. The Holy Bible is littered with numerous examples where civil disobedience was employed as a tactic by leading figures. One such story is that of Moses and his quest to free the Israelites from servitude in Egypt. Moses was commanded to travel to seek an audience with the Pharaoh in a bid to urge him to release the Israelites from their shackles. In this particular instance, disobedience was required since the Pharaoh was now an adversary who had entered a state of war with the Israelites through subjugation. Nevertheless, Moses still followed the bureaucratic channels of the day and first ensured that he met the Pharaoh to strike a deal before leaving with his people. This is a clear indication that even though Locke’s perspective on civil disobedience is accurate, it is not always applicable in every scenario.

           Numerous inconsistencies emerge when reviewing Hobbes’ and Locke’s viewpoints on civil disobedience. Hobbes regarded man as a representative of God on earth, which was why he had to ensure that all acts of disobedience were avoided. Hobbes even viewed it as sin since it was an indication of outright insolence when it was clear the God always worked in mysterious ways. Hobbes’s idea also varies to a degree when compared to the scripture. 1 Timothy 2:3 is emphatic in its claim that only God exists as a sovereign, with man playing the role of a mediator. Rousseau also delved deeply into civil disobedience. He reviewed it from a perspective of general will and civil disobedience, the product of a society with individuals who did not have a clear understanding of enlightenment.

 Rousseau also regarded these same individuals as an existential threat to the wellbeing of society and had to be checked to prevent anarchy.

 It is also evident God did not intend to have his people live in a constant state of autocracy since it is an unnatural state that would eventually lead to sin.

Conclusion 

Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau are among the most celebrated philosophers. This review was, therefore, critical in evaluating Hobbes’ theory of government and its relationship with the biblical world view. Hobbes’s assumption of the state of nature was accurate since man is driven by selfish desire. Locke regarded man as being inherently good, but Rousseau was aware of his barbarous nature. Thus, out of the three philosophers, Hobbes’s perspectives were more accurate and also revealed a spiritual bearing to his theory of government.

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