Leviathan, need for a commonwealth

Essay by datsdabestUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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The Commonwealth and the Need for a Sovereign

The natural state of men, according to Hobbes is, "that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man" (Leviathan, chpt, 13, sect, 8). In the Leviathan, Hobbes clearly presents an image of man that consists of misery, chaos, and anarchy. He believes that if the society of men is not controlled by a, "common power to keep them all in awe" (Leviathan, chpt, 13, sect, 8) the natural passions of men dictate the way of life. And thus, since a sense of justice, injustice, order, and obedience rely on the implementation of an organized rule, it follows that if society is going to succeed, the need for a Commonwealth is necessary. Not only does Hobbes deem it necessary that there exists a Commonwealth, but there must also exist a Sovereign to rule over it, and be the representative voice of all those who are his subjects.

In this essay I will first explain why it is that Hobbes subscribes to the notion that a commonwealth requires a sovereign, and furthermore, why Hobbes gives a multitude of characteristics that sovereignty possesses.

Self preservation is one of the most natural instincts of man. With close observation it can be observed that the actions of all men are based upon this one basic principle, survival. It is therefore evident that to ensure preservation, promote liberty, and to ultimately escape from the condition of war, there must be a common power to hold men in awe, in other words, men must live within a commonwealth. However, it is not merely enough to prescribe simply a commonwealth for survival, but there also must be a visible singular power to further control the passions that strive to control...