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The Political Theory Of Plato And Hobbes

1212 words - 5 pages

By comparing and contrasting the requirements necessary for the appropriation of knowledge or wisdom in the examples of both Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan and Plato in The Republic an explanation will be given as to the relationship between nature and reason. In using this explanation it will illustrate the differing implications for each ruler in the aforementioned literature concluding that both rulers in each regime act as the guiding reason of the state.In Plato's doctrine of wisdom it becomes clear that it resides outside of nature and is associated with the eternal and is thus permanent. According to Plato, knowledge is something to be strived for; it is a good that is an end to itself ...view middle of the document...

The ordinary citizen is neither rational, nor moderate, nor spirited; as a result, their desires do not reflect the Good. Thus the implication for the ruler of the polis is that he should have a philosophical soul because this is the way in which the ultimate reason controls the desires of the masses. Due to this the true philosophers must bear the opposition of the truth or abandon their nature, they are cursed to the persecution by the masses who are driven by their desire and are the very people that need them the most (168).In contrast according to Hobbes both the state and the natural laws arise from reason. Hobbes states that the natural laws arise from reason because we instinctively wish to perverse our own life; in fact he argues that using our power to preserve our own life is our only natural right (189). We can clearly tell that the natural state of man, which according to Hobbes is one of total war between every man, is not conducive to this most basic desire. Thus we begin to reason to formulate natural laws with the purpose of preserving our own life first and attaining our material desires second. Hobbes held that nature gave each man the same equal basic abilities by which leads to the equal ability among all men to use this reason.In representing the soul as and tripartite entity, Plato has a tool with which to defend reason. Plato states: "And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of the whole soul, to rule...?"(441). Here we can say that since the rational part is the only possible faculty by which to act, the defense of reason is not so much based the on pragmatic approach that 'it works,' unlike Hobbes, and that 'it ought' to rule, but on a logical necessity.Reason formerly mediator of the Good and used for the collective benefit, now becomes a mere calculating device, to be used with Hobbes' deductive method that would yield knowledge or wisdom to all individuals that desired it (97, 105). Thus if each man has an equal ability to reason, and this reason enables him to utilize the proper method, then it would follow that each man has equal ability at knowledge or wisdom. It was each man's right to use these...

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