Some interpreters of Hobbes have worried about the dangers of absolutism in his political theory.
Reconstruct this critique of Hobbes. Hobbes defends himself against this criticism by placing a very
important limit on the power of the government. Explain.
As machines, human beings pursue their own selfinterest relentlessly, mechanically avoiding pain and
pursuing pleasure, therefore is mostly concerned with selfpreservation of humans because he believes in
our natural state we are dangerous to each other’s existence.
**Hobbes believes that moral judgments about good and evil cannot exist until they are commanded by a
society’s central authority. This position leads directly to Hobbes’s belief in an autocratic and absolutist form
In Leviathan Hobbes argues that absolutist monarchy is the only right form of government
He holds that any form of ordered government is preferable to civil war. Thus he advocates that all
members of society submit to one absolute, central authority for the sake of maintaining the common
Leviathan can demand anything but your life, and we must submit to this government if we want to be safe
and not be harmed by others.
The danger: the leviathan is not a part of the contract, and he’s absolute power. He is above the laws, not
subjected to them. The fear is that the Leviathan will abuse power and be corrupt.
Hobbes defends himself against this critique by saying that if the Leviathan abuse their authority people
don’t have to obey him and replace the leviathan because they violated the right to preservation, the whole
point of the contract.
How do you determine having your life threatened by the leviathan? Its unclear most of the time. 03/29/2014
According to Rousseau, there were both positive and negative aspects to life in the State of Nature. What
Rousseau has a much more positive view on the state of nature that Hobbes did. He believed that the
essence of humanity is freedom, and that we are born free and fundamentally good, but society is what
In the state of nature we are completely free, equal, and good. In the presocial human condition there was
no private property to cause conflicts, and due to the lack of interaction there was no conflict between
humans. However, there are negative aspects.
Due to the fact that there was no language or rationality, you can be happy but you are limited, and you
don’t have human interaction to help you grow intellectually or emotionally. The presocial man was
therefore ignorant and had impoverished ideas. Most importantly, there was no culture (art, literature,
music) that help to develop emotional expression or higher, more complex emotions. 03/29/2014 03/29/2014
According to Rousseau, how does the historical social contract get established? What is the purpose of this
Established because there’s competition for private land and private property..
we were tricked into believing that what’s good for the few wealthy and powerful is good for all. Private
property is established so some people become more powerful than others Then people want to protect
their private property from the majority..
Do this by making a social contract, which is in everyone’s interest. (so it seems) though its actually in the
best interest of the few with private property. And this contract makes the majority believe that everyone is
free and equal because we have the right to vote, and because we can read and write whatever we want.
Rousseau is saying it’s a trick
the historical social contract is made up by the wealthy to protect their private property. 03/29/2014
Give an account of the four forms of alienation that Marx discusses in “alienated Labor”
Marx depicts four way in which we can be alienated in capitalism in “alienated Labor”
1. Man is alienated from his product.
We are producing goods that are not our own. The product you are making becomes to private property of
someone else. Not only that, but you are not meeting your specific need, but rather the need of someone
This is not freely chosen, it doesn’t meet man’s need directly, it earns him a wage which meets his needs.
We are selling our labor, not working in a free exchange.
2. Man is alienated for creative activity
All he activity you are doing is not your own. For example, when your boss says “do that on your own time”
when you are working or ‘on the clock’ that time is not yours and it is spent doing activity that is not your
own but rather someone else’s, and for someone else.
3.Man is alienated from human nature
Free conscious production is our species being. We see ourselves in what we create. Our production is a
reflection of our own expression.
4.Men are alienated from each other
We are competing with each other for commodities. We see others are bearers of labors, not as
individuals, but as rivals.
We see others as individual agents who are possessors of commodified labor, with whom I compete, rather
than fellow human beings. 03/29/2014
What does Hobbes think life would be like in a state in which there is no coercive power to keep everyone
“in awe?” why? How and why would human beings come to leave such a condition.
**The right of nature in the state of nature is to do anything you want. You will give up this right to do
anything if, and only if, everyone else also does so.
In the state of nature without the authority of the Leviathan, the natural man is miserable, nasty, and fearful
(especially of death), and everyone is free to act as they wish, and may pose a risk to other’s existence.
Everyone can go after his own instincts and claim rights on each other’s property for self protection ,
reputation, or glory.
In such a state, one cannot expect peace or order. And peace is required for our desire for commodious
living. For example, we want to build malls that we can shop in in peace. If we want peace, we must have
this contract; there must be a political institution to guarantee these desires, which is the social contract.
The contract is an artificial agreement; so you need a central executive authority who has all the power
There are 2 things in our nature as human beings that allow us to leave the state of nature and enter the
1. Fear of death and love of pleasure
2. And reason (and se