Leviathan is consideredone of the most influential works in political science field. Thomas Hobbeswrote this book at the age of seventy and it is still a highly controversialdiscussion topic. When Hobbes was writing the Leviathan he managed to synthesemathematics and political philosophy dexterously in the same pot. First, I willtouch upon the content of the book and philosophy and Hobbes then I will cometo the methodological part.The best way tounderstand the ideas of Hobbes and its magnum opus Leviathan it is needed totake the historical era into account in which he used to live. Seventeenthcentury was not the perfect time for England and the country was dealing withunending wars and conflicts.
On the top of this English Civil War broke out culminatingin beheading of King Charles I and replacement of English Monarchy with therule of Oliver Cromwell. These constant crises and conflicts have shaped thethought of Hobbes in a huge way. The timeline which one lives in has undeniablya huge effect on the people. Owing to these reasons Hobbes wanted to solve andput an end to these conflicts.
It is crucial tounderstand that human nature has bad, brutal and nasty characteristics forHobbes and that point of view constitutes the key element of Hobbesian thought.He also was one of the leading figures of realism movement in the field ofinternational relations. Realism contends that states are rational actors justlike humans and they share the same characteristics. Every state is on its ownand can never be sure of other states’ intentions I can explain this with anexample let’s suppose a person in the wild jungle and in this case this person woulddefinitely feel insecure and perceive his surroundings with suspicion andangst. States are exactly like the person in this jungle according to realism.
Seeing that there is no Leviathan that would provide the security around theworld every state must protect itself and do whatever it takes for theprotection of its sovereignty. So Hobbes explained how a state (which he calledCommonwealth) has the best chance to achieve this. It is vital to know thatHobbes along with John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the firstknown advocates of social contract theory. He rejected the theory of divineright of the Kings and argued that a sovereign must take his legitimacy fromthe citizens and as long as the citizens give their assent to the sovereign thenhe would exert absolute authority in the Commonwealth as the citizens acceptedhis authority then his will would become their own will. In this case therewould be no reason to stand against the sovereign as long as he threatens thelives of citizens directly.
Basically Hobbes is against any sort of oppositionagainst the ruler because he argued that even the worst ruler is better than disorderand chaos within the Commonwealth. John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau differfrom the ideas of Hobbes in some points arguing that the sovereign must respectthe rights (the right to live, right of property and freedom of religion) ofhis subjects otherwise he would lose his legitimacy and the people would havethe right to stand against and elect a new ruler. Especially Rousseaus’ ideasare important in this case since he wanted that people should not only electthe leader but also scrutinize his actions. Differences over the ideas emanatedfrom different eras since Locke and Rousseau used to live relatively inpeaceful times whereas Hobbes experienced numerous wars and conflicts whichsurely affected his way of thinking.Nevertheless methodologyof Hobbes was quite a distinguished one in which he tried to connectmathematics with political philosophy. It is worth mentioning that Hobbes wasalso one of the prominent mathematicians during his time and his knowledge ofmathematics and geometry enabled him to think in a different way.
Maths andgeometry are sciences that provide certain exact results and left no place forfor doubt and shadow that should be enlightened. That is what Hobbes was tryingto reach i.e. constructing a political theory whose outcomes supposed toreflect exact and certain truth just like maths and geometry.
For Hobbeslogical argumentation was essential to produce scientific knowledge and onlythrough logical reasoning one could come to correct outcomes. At this point itis not difficult to criticize because logic would be prone to subjectivationand as far as I am concerned it is not possible to reach absolute results insocial sciences which makes them distinguished from natural sciences andmathematics. Duverger’s theory (some call it Duverger’s law) and democraticpeace theory are considered the most successful theories in the field of socialsciences, however, even they can be proven incorrect in some cases. Thereforeone could not argue that we will have exact absolute result by combining mathsand political philosophy due to the fact that they are two separate scienceswith different features. Basically we could criticise the ideas of Hobbes on acertain level since his ideas do not reflect exact and unalterable results.
What Hobbes was trying to accomplish was the legitimization of the new systemafter the execution of King Charles I. so that the everlasting conflicts andwars in his country would finally come to an end.