Augustine's Commonwealth: The Role Of State According To Augustine

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For Augustine as stated in the book, the world is structured in a hierarchy of societies with the relation of man and God as the basis of justice. It includes the family, church and state. According to Augustine people are naturally social and society is organic, but humans are political by convention. For him the political community is artificial and only exists emanating from the self-interests of the people and not through their natural inclination to politics. The role of the government is to ensure its member’s peace and guide them towards beliefs and form of worships that are pertinent with the Christian community. It is considered simply as a remedy to the consequences of man’s original disobedience that ruined the order and the harmony…show more content…
For Thomas Hobbes, since man is not capable of securing their livelihood and contentment individually they associate together and form a commonwealth. A sovereign political entity is established to secure the safety of its subjects and it is only possible if everyone upholds its legitimacy and authority (Ryan, 1940). This commonwealth is composed of a chain of associated contracts. It requires a person that will embody the whole and make the necessary decisions. This calls for the creation of the Leviathan which is responsible for the social order and the welfare of its members. The sovereign can either be a corporate person, a legislature, an assembly of all citizens or a single person. He maintained that the commonwealth ensures the liberty or freedom of its citizens (Hobbes, 1996). According to Ryan (1940) on his book On politics, Hobbe’s witnessed two revolutions that greatly affected his life. The first is the civil war of the 1640’s which resulted to his thinking that the ambiguity in the location and extent of authority led to civil war. This further strengthen his argument of a unity of state which is consisted in the location of an absolute and arbitrary legislative and executive authority in a sovereign which possessed an unlimited legal authority and in which the subjects are required to obey everything. The will of the sovereign is expressed in the form of civil laws…show more content…
Every state is focused on maximizing its own power. The state is the highest form of human association and is responsible for maintaining the welfare of its subjects. Power is considered relevant to attain success and any types of means can be used by the ruler in order to acquire it. In his book The Prince he argues that the ruler needs not to be always good in order to ensure the stability of the state. This is contrast to the classical concept of ruler which is should be a man of virtue and the person who should uphold the law and justice. The ruler of the state is not bound by religion or ethics and the state have supremacy over other institutions. Machiavelli separates politics from theology and maintained that states do not have its end in moral terms. Its purpose is to serve the interests of its subject. Man is perceived by Machiavelli as bad, greedy for power, ambitious and unsatisfied. Therefore the use of force is necessary in order to control them since only force with punishment can restrict man (Machiavelli, 1988). Machiavelli has witnessed the invasion of Italy by powerful nations such as Spain and France. Italy was back then living in a period of prevalent corruption and selfishness of its rulers and church officials. Italy was divided by different small and independent states. Each of these states acts as a
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