Political Theory Term Paper

Pages: 3 (980 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy

Political Theory

If nothing else, the pages of history can be accurately summed up as a collection of tales of power, or more precisely, the quest to obtain and retain power. In this, history intersects with political theory when considering the nature of power, who is entitled to hold power and rule over others, and a myriad of other elements which form the foundation of political power itself. Throughout history, political philosophers-among them Machiavelli and Hobbes- have commented and written extensively on the dynamics of power as well as its transitory, fleeting nature. This paper will analyze and discuss the theories of both Machiavelli and Hobbes in an effort to better understand political theory itself; where appropriate, direct quotes will be utilized and explained.

Machiavelli's and Hobbes' Perceptions of the Ruler

At the very root of power itself are some fundamental questions that warrant examination within the context of Machiavelli and Hobbes; first, the issue of who should rule the state, as well as how they should rule it. When studying the ideas of these two political philosophers, it becomes apparent that no two individuals could be more different in their thoughts on the same topic.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on Political Theory Assignment

Machiavelli, to begin, takes a somewhat cynical view of who should rule the state, especially when considering this direct quote from him on the subject: "Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it (Viroli, 1998, p.134). This one quotation speaks volumes in terms of Machiavelli's point-of-view on the nature of rulers- when looking at this as well as other sources of information about the Machiavellian viewpoint, several key assertions become clear. The ideal ruler in the eyes of Machiavelli would be either an individual or individuals who derive legitimacy from sheer force and the submission of their subjects; within this dynamic, the Machiavellian leader(s) would relate to citizens not in a collaborative manner, but in a dictatorial way. This being understood, citizens would not have much, if any voice in the political process, nor would they have the freedom to speak out against political issues to which they were opposed (Viroli, 1998). The rights of the ruler would be limitless, and his power absolute. This assertion is confirmed by yet another quote directly from Machiavelli himself: "A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise." (Viroli, 1998, p. 216).

Hobbes stands in contrast to Machiavelli, at least on the surface, in terms of his theories on who should rule the state. Whereas Machiavelli advocates the ideas of absolute power, submission among subjects, and the gaining of authority through a display of force, Hobbes seems to be more attuned to the ideas of the nature of man to be essentially free, and the ruling of the state by a democratic type of a body, rather than a solitary… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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