Analysis Of Thomas Hobbes And Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Two political theorists, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, have written extensively on the topic of political philosophy. In doing so, they provide different accounts seeking to justify sovereignty. Sovereignty is generally understood as supreme power or authority, although the writers provide analysis outlining features that play a role in justifying their account of sovereignty. These two authors are consent theorists, so they endorse the idea that the basis of governance relies on individuals entering consensual relationships with one another (In Class Notes 9/1). There are commonalities and differences in the accounts described by Hobbes and Rousseau, focusing on a few main features. These features include the “state of nature”, …show more content…
However, Rousseau has a different view about this state than Hobbes, asserting that it is more compassionate than violent. He also says that the state of nature is more of an inconvenience to individuals than the fear inducing state of constant war Hobbes describes (Rousseau 11). Rousseau does not agree that there is a struggle for power in the natural state because there is no property to fight over and a government to enforce inequality does not yet exist. Additionally, Rousseau does not think it is possible to return to the state of nature, it is only a hypothetical situation before political institutions are implemented. Hobbes disagrees, arguing that the main goal of a social contract and the responsibility of the sovereign is to prevent reentrance into the state of nature (Hobbes …show more content…
Among many laws, the first law is that “every man ought to endeavor peace” and the second is to escape the state of natural war (Hobbes 190). Together, the laws require humans to seek peace and form a social contract. Natural persons are the authors of the social contract which is considered a representative of the people. The contract is a representative because it includes the wills of the people and is an artificial person. It is an artificial person because the words are those of someone else, since they are combined wishes of the whole population (Hobbes 216). Part of this contract is to have some common power that holds the authority of forcing everyone to uphold the contract. Subjects metaphorically write the social contract and determine the specifications of the power of this sovereign. Hobbes maintains that divine right is not the ground for authority under the social contract, instead all individuals consent to the contract motivated by fear. The sovereign comes to power through universal consent and operates through fear, reinforcing the laws of nature through the social contract (In Class

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