Philosophy And Absolutism Essay

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Absolutism is the system of government in which the ruler believes they have absolute power over the state. While Absolutism may have been popular among rulers such as Louis XIV and Charles I, classic philosophers such as Locke and Rousseau would be against the idea of Absolutism, stating how it does not meet the standards of a good and civil society, while Hobbes would be for the idea because it keeps order and peace among people. Between all three philosophers, it is not the idea of absolutism that changes, but instead it is the idea of human nature society. John Locke wrote shortly after the time of Charles I. He saw the aftermath of Charles I and how it was much more peaceful and civil than during Charles’ reign and would stand against the idea of Absolutism. He does not believe in the fairness of an absolute monarchy nor should it exist in civil society: “Hence it is evident, that an absolute monarchy, which by some men is counted the only government in the world, is indeed inconsistent with civil society, and so can be no form of civil government” (Locke, 289). Locke believes that an absolute monarchy would not match the characteristics of civil society because if a monarch became absolute then no one could pass judgment upon him or her. Locke believes in an equal society where no one is above the law, and that is why he has an issue with Absolutism. In this system, the monarch has put himself above the law. Locke states, “For he being supposed to have all, both legislative and executive power in himself alone, there is no judge to be found, no appeal lies open to anyone” (Locke, 289). Locke is saying that if a monarch has all the power, than no one can challenge him when he does wrong. Locke believes that everyone is equal and that people in government are no exception. Locke asks the question, “What fence is there, in such a state, against the violence and oppression of this absolute?” (Locke, 290). He asks, if no one can challenge the ruler, then what is to keep him from doing wrong? Who is to stand against oppression if no one has enough power? These are the main issues Locke raises against Absolutism. He believes that this system of government cannot stand in a civil society. Rousseau wrote around the time during the French Revolution, and saw what monarchy can do to a country. Rousseau would be against the idea of Absolutism for two reasons: virtue and fairness. Rousseau discusses in The Social Contract how he believes humans to be equal. He, along with Locke and Hobbes, believes this, but Rousseau also talks about the vanity of people. He states that vanity is our vice, and applauds virtue and Judaic Laws. His focus on virtue is one reason why he would be against absolutism. Absolutism deals with vices, in the sense that a monarch gives into greed in order to become all-powerful. Rousseau believes that a good society is virtuous, so if the leader of a country is giving into these vices, then there is no way the society can become good in Rousseau’s eyes. Rousseau discusses his idea of equality in the excerpt from The Social Contract, “Lawgiver.” Rousseau states in this excerpt, “He, therefore, who draws up the laws, has, or should have, no right of legislation, and the people cannot, even if it wishes, deprive itself of this incommunicable right, because, according to the fundamental compact, only the general will can bind the individuals” (Rousseau, 342). Rousseau is talking about democracy in this excerpt. He is stating that the man who creates the laws cannot enforce them, and only the people can create a lawful society. The only philosopher to agree with this idea is Thomas Hobbes, who wrote during Charles I reign and during war. Thomas Hobbes believes that man’s state of nature is naturally destructive and that the reason man created government is to create peace. He states, “Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep