A Visible Power for the Commonwealth

When do words possess authoritative quality? At what point can we differentiate a simple promise from a formal contract? These are just some of the questions that arose when I thought about the “social contracts” that Thomas Hobbes mentioned in his book, the Leviathan. The portion of the Leviathan that I will be referring to is titled “Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a Commonwealth” (Chapter 17). The arguments and philosophies presented in this chapter were intended by Hobbes to describe the necessity of sovereign institutions for peace and security. Hobbes insisted that a visible power(s) needed to be exist in order for humans within their regions to be free from the condition of war. The condition of war is a term coined to describe the natural state of humans to preserve their own lives against his/her enemies; in this state, all other beings are considered enemies. A consequence of this state would be that no person would have security no matter how adept they were.

Original copy of the Leviathan. Credits to Wikimedia Commons.

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