Machiavelli Vs Hobbes Political Power Analysis

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‘In the social sciences, the most general concept of power links it to the ability to achieve a desired outcome’ (Heywood 2004). Power is a heavily contested concept amongst humans and has always been present within political thought throughout all eras. It is, in most cases, outlined as the capability to impose authority upon both individuals, and the masses within a state or territorial region, in order to control or influence decisions and their effects. This essay will discuss the similarities in the analysis of political power between two key philosophers from the 16th and 17th century who are thought to have founded features of modern-day political science. Both Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes specialised in theorising the idea …show more content…
Machiavelli’s principles regarding human nature and morality drew many similarities with that of Hobbes’s. Machiavelli argued that humans are driven by emotions such as fear, hatred and greed and that in a society which was sinful, the only way to protect and obtain power, was through a sovereign who followed the correct moral code, which meant that in some instances sinful actions which disregarded the relevance of morality were acceptable. Hobbes referred to history in order to explain his analysis on political power, he discussed what was called ‘the state of nature’ and that in this scenario, life would be nasty, brutish and short, in which there would be an abundance of freedom, but a lack of security. In this anarchical situation, it would hinder eudemonia as everyone would do as they please. In order to have power and for a state to flourish, Hobbes believed the best methodology would be to conform to the social contract, because without it they would be living in a society of ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’ (Oxford Reference, 2008) which translated to a war of all against all, much like the English Civil War which Hobbes was writing after. ‘For Hobbes, the purpose of politics is to escape war. As such, he insists that in order to establish a democratic political order, all individuals need to hand over their will to a single point of ultimate authority’ (Field, 2015). Due to their beliefs on human nature, Hobbes and Machiavelli shared comparable principles with regards to the need of a sovereign ruler, and the requirement for a functioning supreme power in order to control the people. In the enlightenment period in which Hobbes wrote in his book the Leviathan about the human nature of people, he, similarly to Machiavelli, described that they were selfish and war-prone. Hobbes believed that people are not born with the understanding of what was right

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