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Political Science
Ryan Balot

Compare Hobbes discussion of religion in Chapter 12 of the faced with a choice: To live a life in the shadows, living an animal existence Leviathan to Platos discussion of religion in Books II-III of the and pursuing pleasures and prizes that are temporal and fleeting; or to exercise our powers of reason and achieve awareness of the eternally good Republic. Identify the similarities and differences in these accounts and explain their significance for these authors respective political and beautiful. The latter option is the most difficult, for it requires self- theories. discipline, a denial of sensual pleasures and the temptations of the world. Plato saw the weaknesses of the body as an evil that gets in the way of the pursuits of the mind. Bodily pleasures and desires hinder the progress of the To understand Platos discussion on religion one needs to also briefly look at Platos description on the theory of Forms. The analogy of the cave is Platos eternal soul in its journey towards the realm of the Forms. Socrates and way of explaining the Theory of the Forms. This is what Plato also meant by Plato were considered Christians before Christ; they paved the way for the coming of Christianity by providing it with philosophical and theoretical the Forms; they are the essential things that are invisible to the eye or our other senses. foundations that would be acceptable to the western mind. In the Republic, Plato points out that the analogy is a picture of the human On the other hand, Hobbes believed mans need for religion is a desire, which condition. People are trapped within the illusory world of the senses like the is bred within man. Because of this desire for religion, which is a result of prisoners at the bottom of the cave. However, Plato believed that it is possible to escape from this illusion and to perceive the truth that exists mens insecurities over his future as well as his desire to know about the within our very souls. For Plato, the Forms represent truth, or reality. They causes of natural phenomena, some men of good judgment and intelligence prey on this need for religion by introducing new religions so that it can cannot be attained by the senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, or hearing), but organized people into a mass of civil and obedient society or to protect their through the exercise of the mind. However, these Forms are independent of the mind: they are eternal, unchanging and perfect. Our knowledge of the own self-interests. Forms is innate, contained within our very souls, and so when we perceive In chapter 12, Hobbes divided religion into two categories, polytheism and them we are recollecting our knowledge of the Forms, of truth. In the analogy of the cave, the sun represents the Form of the Good. In the same monotheism. The reason for the existence of polytheistic beliefs is attributed way that the sun is the source of all things and gives light to them, the Form to four emotions in men. The first one is mens opinion of ghosts. Human belief in the existence of ghosts was created out of mens past experiences of the Good is over and above the other Forms, giving them light and with events or things that normally give him fear; hence ghosts were actually allowing us to perceive them. Therefore, when you have awareness of the Form of the Good you have achieved true enlightenment. In Christianity, the representations of human fear rather than the true manifestations of spirits. Form of the Good becomes God: the source of all things. This created the second emotion, which is devotion towards what men fear. If men revered ghosts and spirits for fear of their perceived malevolence, an When discussing religion Plato argues that the fault lies not with God, but intelligent man could just prey on this fear. He would create in his with the soul that makes the choice. For Plato, therefore, there are two polytheistic religion, in the form of spirits, many gods that not only rule realms. There is the visible realm, that is the world of matter, of the senses, different aspects of human lives, but also acted as the progenitors of natural phenomena, some benign and some malign. The masses would believe in of change, the world in which everything is always becoming something else, the world where everything is imperfect and subject to decay. How- ever, those gods because of the third emotion, they were ignorant of the true there is the other realm, the intelligible realm in which there is perfection, scientific causes of such phenomena and also, the illusion of miracles might compel them to believe. permanence and order. This is the unchanging, the timeless realm. It is Also another emotion that might compel the masses to believe in the gods reality. The implications of the existence of these two realms is that man is created by the intelligent man is taking of things casual for prognostics. www.notesolution.comThe intelligent man would prey on this emotion by pretending to be able to Discuss the positions taken by Machiavelli and Aristotle on the prophesize over the future through means like necromancy or astrology. desirability of a mixed constitution and the character it should Since men were insecure about their future, such prophecies would appeal to take. What are the similarities and differences in their theories? their need for security and this would compel them to believe in the revelations of that intelligent man. In doing so, a society of obedient masses In The Discourses, Machiavellis true political convictions are revealed as he would be created and this made it easier for the powerful man of that society declares that a well-managed republic is preferable to a principality or to impose his authority. indeed any other form of government. In arguing this point, Machiavelli alludes to the well-established typology of constitutions employed by The formation of a monotheistic religion is a result of the corruption of the Aristotle, Polybius and Cicero comprised of principalities, aristocracies, polytheistic religion itself, which is largely due to the loss of credibility democracies and their degenerate counterparts. Therefore, princely power, among the priests or defenders of that pagan religion. In order to justify nobility and popular government all have their place in republican their rule or tyranny over their subjects, some kings would increase their governance. The Prince, however, serves a particular role; he is needed in stature to semi- divine status by claiming to be direct descendants of the times of crisis either to found a republic from unsuitable material or to gods. As priests and kings lost their credibility due to their wicked and restore it from corruption. In such instances where good laws do not suffice, immoral deeds, and the myths about the pantheon took on more absurdity it is necessary to have a superior force, such as appertains to a monarch, that could no longer compel other men to believe, men would turn to a who ha[s] such absolute and overwhelming power that he can restrain prophet that could reveal to them the existence of an omnipotent God that is excesses due to ambition and the corrupt practice of the powerful. never humanlike in His qualities. The prophet would then rely on his Machiavelli concludes that a mixed constitution is the ideal arrangement intelligence, miracles and Gods own revelations to compel the masses into since such a government would be stronger and more stable, for if in one believing his new monotheistic religion. and the same state there was principality, aristocracy and democracy, each would keep watch over the other. The blending of these estates, Machiavelli Whenever there was an introduction of a monotheistic religion to a says, made a perfect commonwealth. polytheistic society, there would be a clash between the two religions. The reason being that the belief in one God denied the kings their perceived Machiavelli is less sanguine at some points than at others about a mixed semi-divine status thus threaten their authority over subjects. As Hobbes regimes ability to last. Because one cannot give a certain remedy for like had said that the seed of religion is... only in man, an implication that man disorders that arise in republics, it follows that it is impossible to order a created religion to satisfy his needs, therefore man would change religion if perpetual republic, because through a thousand unexpected ways its ruin is his original religion no longer satisfy his needs and he became more caused. To expect a regime to last forever would certainly be to ask for too attracted to a new religion that better suited his needs and interests. To much; even Rome eventually collapsed. Machiavelli goes on to explain the conclude, for Hobbes, One must never allow himself to be overwhelmed by essential preconditions for ensuring a long life to things such as mixed words of wise man and believes in a particular religion if he himself never regimes. All things pass away but generally they go the whole course that is experience events that convince him about the existence of God, for such ordered for them by heaven, so that they do not disorder their body but keep faith always wavers whenever tested or challenged by new ideas and it ordered in such a mode that either it does not change, or, if it changes, it is precepts. for safety and not to its harm...I am speaking of mixed bodies, as are republics. In other words, a mixed regime may live out a healthy life if it does not change or if the changes it undergoes improve it. A time will certainly
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