Modern Political Thinker: Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and Niccolo Machiavelli

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Modern politics are the actions or activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society. In this modern world modern politics is playing a major role in shaping and developing the society into a better place to live in, but at the same time it can also be lethal if it falls under the person with no sound knowledge about how modern politics. So basically it is like a necessary evil in the society. Now there are many political philosophers who have come and gone, different political thinkers have different ways of interpreting the way the society functions, some believe that the best government is absolutely no government and believes that everything about the government is representative and that’s why it must be abolished. Some say that a single ruler should have control over every aspects of the government and of people’s lives, in some cultures the ruler is considered as god in human form and some believe that individual rights should be promoted and all the people should be treated equally. Of all the philosophers I am going to talk about Thomas Hobbes who was an English philosopher and was considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy, he is well known for his book Leviathan which talks about the famous social contract theory, and the next philosopher I am going to talk about is Niccolo Machiavelli who was an Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer well known for The Prince which was written in 1513. He was also known as one of the father of modern political philosophy and political science like Thomas Hobbes. (Sorell, 2020)

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher in the 17th century and is known as one of the few philosophers who are considered as the true great philosophers, his book Leviathan which is considered as one of the most important literature in the modern politics which rivals in significance the political writings of Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Rawls. He believed that state or society cannot be secure unless at the disposal of an absolute sovereign, from this there comes an idea that no individual can hold rights of property against the sovereign, and that the sovereign may therefore take the goods of its subjects without their consent. His social contract theory which talks about justifying political principles or arrangements by appeal to the agreement that would be made among suitably situated rational, free and equal persons. He has a constructive impact on subsequent work in political philosophy because of his methodological innovation. Hobbes wrote several versions of his political philosophy, including the Elements of Law, Natural and Politic. For him the goal of politics is to provide for a way out of the state of nature. In the state of nature people live in “continual fear” of the “danger of violent death”. To leave the state of nature each person would have to surrender their right “to everything even one another’s body. (Williams, 1996)

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Now comes Niccolo Machiavelli who was just as influential and important as that of Thomas Hobbes. Machiavelli was from a wealthy and prominent, holding on occasion Florence’s most important offices. His father Bernado, a doctor of laws. Machiavelli’s name came to evoke through The Prince, he considered political battles not through the view of morality but considered as a board game with certain set of rules. He is sometimes seen as the prototype of modern empirical scientists, building generalizations from experience and historical facts and giving importance on the uselessness theorizing with the imagination. His popular ideology called Machiavellianism is often considered as godless, screaming and self-interested,it also suggest an unprincipled lust for power. Machiavelli was considered as a man inspired by the devil to lead good men into their own doom. He proposes a systematic, logical and scientific approach to the art of statecraft, which has many advantages, through his political thought, there was entry of modern political thought which incorporates modern political notions of secularism, open-mindedness, patience, the importance of rights etc.

Machiavelli and Hobbes each rejected the classical and medieval intellectual traditions that preceded them. Specifically they rejected the Aristotelian faith that the whole lot in the nature, along with human beings, has a telos or end to which it aspires, furthermore both depart from the classical view that human beings are sociable by nature and the view of the ancients that virtue exists in the world independent of human beings in this way the works of Hobbes and Mechiavelli represented a break with the classical tradition and together helped form the basis of modern political theory. Hobbes and Mechiavelli both had similar iconoclastic ambitions unseat and defame the tradition of the medievalists and ancients, diverged in fundamental ways about both the goal of politics and the way to best achieve that goal. Both thinkers lived through extreme political turmoil during their lives thus both men saw internal political stability as being a necessary condition for any higher goals. (Gill)

Thomas Hobbes described everything in a way that we can relate to and understand even if we have never read about him in detail, he believed in self-preservation all costs and he put this believe into practice when he rightly declared himself as one of the first to flee at the outbreak of the civil war. Afterwards, he was quick to return when the French government was unable to offer the same protection to the commonwealth. Thomas Hobbes is a very important figure in modern politics because he believed the origin of law and the state. Hobbes rejected the moral value of all virtues that do not proceed from this fear. Our desire for peace is the fundamental law of nature he also thought the good life was not found in striving for human excellence but incommodious living. This seems to be the foundation of modern life. (Chadwik, 2016)

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Modern Political Thinker: Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and Niccolo Machiavelli. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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