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The two famous political philosophers, Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes are credited for shaping the political believes that are held by different people in the present world. They sought to show the origin of civilization and how the factors that contributed to it affects the political landscape of a given society.
Comparison and Contrast of Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes
Hobbes claimed that the state of nature is a state of war. However, Aristotle disagreed claiming that man is a “political Animal” is bound to form associations unconsciously (Strahuss 35). These are two contradicting views about the world but both had some uncertainty to deal with, the definition of human nature as opposed to political nature.
Aristotle christened the “city” a human civilization that was seen advanced as it was the highest form of human partnership. Certain relationships and partnerships exists for some common and good mission within the city. Therefore the city was seen aiming at the “most authoritative good of all”, hence a mean to secure total self-sufficiency (Miller 320).
Hobbes believed in the commonwealth or Leviathan view of the society and politics. He objects the idea of partnership in the city as advanced by Aristotle and states that there existed “a multitude so united in one person” (King 98). In fact, Thomas Hobbes, when talking to John Aubrey cited that, “Aristotle was the worst teacher that ever was, the worst politician and ethick” but he also added that “his rhetorique and discourse of animals was rare” (Strauss 37). He believed that people are at constant war, with the fear of brutal death lingering in their minds hence all are forced to seek peace at all times. This view advocates for all people to surrender their inherent right to one person than face violent death.
Aristotle joined the Academy of Plato (428-348) in Athens from Macedonia where, his birth place became Pluto’s pupil where he developed a political belief which focused on the relationship between the “polis” and ‘Eudemonia” (happiness) of people (Biography, 2010). He asserts that for anybody to achieve the good life it requires one to go beyond his desires and engage reason and rationality in a city (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP, 2010). He believed that in the city there existed mutual relationships where each person was of benefit to the other. This was in contrast with the commonwealth concept of Hobbes which seems not to profit anybody in the society as this prevented others from participating in the running of the affairs of such a society.
Aristotle still believed that the household partnership in the city was due to the “needs of life” and it consists of individuals’ partnership with a ruler and the ruled. These households come together to form a political partnership in the city which results in harmony living. Hobbes sees such households as having political implication since he says that people live in small families to “rob and spoil one another” (Miller 360).
Both Aristotle and Hobbes have a common view of households. They believe that kingdoms or political cities are made up of small families which have come together due to a common political course in the city or commonwealth. Agreeing on the fundamental idea of households, they have divergent reasons for their belief. Aristotle says that families unite to form a lager family through mutual agreement so as to live a better life. On the hand, Hobbes maintains that large families are formed from small families contracting each other in order to protect themselves from wars and brutal death (Strauss 38; King 96).
While commenting on the place of an individual in the society, Aristotle believed that naturally man was a social animal and at any given instance will be forced to unite with others forming a partnership of mutual benefit. He states that each person is born into a predestined relationship or partnership whose main goal is to live well. This puts and individual as the building block for the city. If the individual is not free, it slows down the usefulness of partnership and hinders the realization of the common good (Weidenfeld 185).
Hobbes believed that individuals had no choice but to look for partnership that would protect them from violent death. Individuals would be forced to give up their rights as long as they were sure of their safety. These rights would be transferred to a political ruler or government which would be charged with protecting the society. Hobbes concludes that no person can have a complete right as this has been transferred to the governing bodies. This view sees an individual as a subject to the political leadership contrary to the belief by Aristotle of the individual being the integral part of a society.
Anybody accused of committing a crime would have to be found guilty by the partners in Aristotle arrangement. While in Hobbes setting such a person was at the mercies of the ruler who is charged with making the final decisions. Aristotle’ style of political leadership advocated for a democratic state of affairs while that of Hobbes was totally autocratic.
Both the philosophers believed that human being have embraced civilization and relates it to the households and individuals. They also went ahead to try and explain why animals or insects came together given that they didn’t have the intellect to reason as human beings do. In trying to explain this phenomenon, Aristotle still maintains that since human being households and cities are formed naturally, insects and animal herds come together to form a society by nature for their own good hence equating them to people. He went ahead to explain that the only difference is that “man alone among the animals has speech” hence enabling them to communicate their feelings and exercise justice (Weidenfeld 188).
On the other hand, Hobbes trying to explain the behaviour of animals, he lists six reasons why man pursues political unity for safety not just because of what is good. His first reason is that animals do not have ability to pursue dignity and honour while man does. This makes men to be envious and harbour hatred resulting in war (King 96). The second reason being that animals are unable to distinguish between common good and private good. The third and fourth reason is that animals have no reason and speech to help them decide on who should rule or discuss bad and good (Miller 352). The fifth reason is that animals cannot tell the difference between hurts and inner pain while the last reason is animal herds exists by nature but man forms groups by contract.
Comparing and Contrasting of the Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes’ Works
The first three laws of nature of Hobbes which relate to the concept of justice are the most significant and influential as they advocates for the escape from the state of nature. His first law states that individual should seek peace but if it is not available, full force should be used. To compliment to first law his second law advocates for people to lay down their rights and form contracts as long as others are willing to do the same. The third law comes to cement the first two laws. This states that men should perform their covenants a basis of the definition of justice.
Hobbes defines justice as keeping ones promises. He states that for justice to prevail everybody in the society should be able to keep their end of the bargain. Contracts were not possible where the parties do not trust each other. His argument of justice is rather very myopic as such a complex concept cannot be explained in such simplicity. It remains questioned especially when one considers the concept of justice that showed “faults in interpretations of such grave injustices as religious discrimination, animal cruelty, genocide and murder (King 100).
Aristotle is regarded a great philosopher who has influenced the views of modern philosophy. At Anthens, he lectured for twelve years piling his lecture notes that are the building block of his work. He broadly looked at the fields of metaphysics, astronomy, and meteorology, changing and influencing greatly how the society lives now. Aristotle developed new, “non-platonic theory of form, created a system of deductive reasoning, produced a theory of the cosmos, matter, life and mind. His work remains influential to the present society (Miller 381).
In conclusion, politics as advanced by Aristotle has stood out as the shaping concept of modern political system in history. Following the concept of his teacher Plato, advocates of democracy in a political setting. On the other hand, Hobbes lived during Religion wars and English civil war; he takes rather an opposing stand on Aristotle’s because of the fear of such a clear-cut and universal concept as advanced by Aristotle which can easily lead to ideological warfare in the present society.
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