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The Big Idea We Mistook: the Leviathan

  • Date Submitted: 11/20/2010 06:50 PM
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Philosophy 1130G
20 June 2008
The Big Idea We Mistook: The Leviathan
Thomas Hobbes is known by many as one of the greatest philosophers to date.   His work on the topic of political philosophy is both well known and much contested.   One of his most famous works, the Leviathan, is referred to in the following arguments as challenging to connect to today.   Although relevant in a broad sense, by relating his ideas to their applicability in modern society, we will find that they do not meet the requirements of a big idea.
To accurately establish the following arguments, we must first understand what makes a good big idea.   For the purposes of this paper, a good big idea will be defined as that which has the ability to stand the test of time.   In saying that, the idea must not only meet that criteria but also maintain a level of applicability in today’s society.   We must be able to relate the ideas theories to modern day life and the practices we are accustomed to.  
Hobbes’ Leviathan is multi-dimensional.   First, he concedes that all men are equal in both mental and physical strength and the only thing that differentiates them from one another is their previous experience.   He asserts that, naturally, as a result of this equality we have the same common goals in mind.   In life, we want for similar things; above all else, peace, followed by security, shelter and food.   In order for us to coexist peacefully,

according to Hobbes, there must be a single authority in place and that “sovereign must be unchallengeable” (Williams 221).   Without this, we run the risk of other individuals resorting to violence whenever they feel necessary to attain their means of survival.   In joining the commonwealth one consents to giving up their natural rights and obeying the contractual laws put in place by the sovereign. This is what Hobbes refers to as the law of nature.   In complying with these laws, survival is achieved assuming that all others are willing and inclined to give...

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