Descartes And Hobbes: A Comparative Analysis

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Second, there develops an extraordinary confidence in humanity's capacity to know and even to master nature, society, and the self. Third, the problems of politics are not simply to be mitigated, but they are to be permanently solved. Fourth, the autonomous individual, rather than society, is assumed to be the starting point for constructing a political system that would provide the grounds for legitimating and justifying a political system. First, the new science provides an essential break with the medieval world. Descartes and Hobbes came to be founders of liberal rationalism, and Locke joins them as a founder. They were all well aware that a revolutionary shift had occurred. Two features were particularly significant: the reductive model…show more content…
An extraordinary mood of confidence and power permeates the works of Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke. We can shape and control the future. Recall the famous boast of Descartes that we can "make ourselves, as it were, the lords and masters of nature." Hobbes introduction to the Leviathan reflects this mood: human knowledge and power are parallel with God's. Locke, less dramatically perhaps, also has the same extraordinarily confident attitude toward the future, once we apply the new epistemology and its methods: "We are born with faculties and powers capable almost of anything, such at least as would carry us farther than can easily be imagined; but it is only the exercise of those powers, which gives us ability and skill in anything, and leads us towards…show more content…
With their philosophic stance, it is first necessary to be clear about the fundamental nature of political reality. What are the key constituting ingredients of political life? Hobbes finds the great drive for self-preservation and the passions plus a calculating self-interest as chief factors. Locke finds natural equality and liberty plus the great rights. In both cases, the method is to go behind culture and civilization and to discover the original, natural, and basic parts that will form the whole. By this means, these thinkers purport to provide humanity with solutions to politics. The urbane pessimism of the ancients does not survive because Hobbes and Locke confidently assert that there are a solution., supported by science and knowledge. For them the problem of achieving order with legitimacy and other traditional problems are solvable. Fourth, the autonomous individual becomes the focus for creating a political system and for evaluating its claim to legitimacy, and the epistemologies of Hobbes and Locke both support the model of the autonomous and free individual. It is the individual's own capacities that provide knowledge. In fact, one must not rely upon the authority of the Church, the state, or of tradition. Thus, there is an epistemic autonomy supporting political autonomy for the individual. Hobbes's Leviathan is replete with witty and snide comments aimed at debunking the
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