M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru



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18 ibid., xvm.

  • *9 Ibid,



    1. 276

    2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

    1. conception of a constitutional law limiting the competence of the sovereign has disappeared entirely."10

    2. In fact, it will be wrong to say that Leviathan is such a person who can tolerate no liberty. There is liberty under him. It is that which man enjoys in the silence of the laws. Leviathan has no passion for undue interference. "For the use of laws is not to bind the people from all voluntary actions ; but to direct and keep them in such a motion, as not to hurt themselves by their own impetuous desires, rashness or indiscretion ; as hedges are set, not to stop travellers, but to keep them in their way." Men can enjoy sufficient liberty "to buy and sell and otherwise contract with one another ; to choose their own abode, their own diet, their own trade of life, and institute their children as they themselves think fit; and the like."" Although it would be unwise to see in Hobbej an early exponent of laissez-faire, he was, however, convinced of the fact that the distressed "ought not to be left to the charity of private persons"—they were Leviathan's responsibility. And he also held that "there ought to be such laws as may encourage all manner of arts, such as, navigation, agriculture, fishing, and all manner of manufacture which requires labour." But, Hobbes believed, Leviathan was not to interfere in the matters of intellect and conscience as these were beyond his reach. Also Leviathan cannot force "men to believe". "Thought is free," Hobbes, in fact, was an implacable enemy of all authority in philosophy, belief and opinion. And the justification for the existence of the "secret-thought police to be found in 20th century totalitarian states is not to be sought in him.""

    3. Individualism in Hobbes's Political Philosophy

    4. In this way, Hobbes's political philosophy was quite individualistic in essence in spite of the fact that he propounded a theory of an absolute sovereign. He was as much the product of the circum­stances of his time as Machiavelli was, and hence it would be wrong to expect from him the doctrine of a perfect democracy or of a perfect individualism as we have in the 20th century. At the same time, it should also be remembered that although the despot, the hero, the divinely-appointed ruler—or whatever else he may choose to call him —will not invariably have wisdom or foresight, at least it will always be in his interest to keep the rival folly, the innate lawlessness of the many-headed multitude, in check. The besetting sin of democracy is anarchy, and the best check yet discovered upon anarchy is the strong arm and. when necessary, the sharp sword of the ruler who is ultimately responsible only to himself. It is true that the motive power must commonly, if not always, be looked for from below : but

    5. Sabine, G. H. : op. cit., p. 401.

    6. Leviathan, XXI.

    7. Wayper, C. L. : op. cit., p. 59.



    1. THOMAS HOBBES

    2. 277

    1. the wild forces of nature, which furnish the raw material of the states­man, will in the ordinary course of things spring from the multitude and the soil. But what is the motive power, or wild force, without guidance ? And what is the worth of raw material until it is fashion­ed and worked up ? At the lowest estimate, Vaughan rightly remarks, "the second element is as necessary to the final product, the welfare and progress of mankind, as the first. And if, on the strictest cons truction, the rulers can claim no more than the second place, that is the worst of reasons for asserting that he has no place at all. Judged by a purely ideal standard, both may be evils ; centainly, both carry many evils in their train. But in this imperfect world, both are neces­sary evils ; and the one without the other would be ten times more evil yet.!S But looking from the viewpoint of the spirit of political commonwealth another remark of Vaughan that "the state of Levia­than is a state avowedly founded upon slavery ; founded therefore upon a principle which is the very negation of all justice"24 does not hold much truth. Also his remark—"The 'society' called together by the 'covenant' is seen, directly we examine it, to be no society at all. All life is gathered in the 'one man' at the head of it; the rest of the body is a dead weight, a mere unprofitable mass"25—does not sound very convincing. If we closely examine the liberty of subjects and the condition of revolution against the sovereign, as made clear by Hobbes in Chapter XVIII of Leviathan, his viewpoint becomes crystal clear. Further, his discussion of the characteristics of political commonwealth m Chapter XVII of Leviathan also clearly indicates that the voluntary consent of the people remains fundamental in the making of a corporation or of an institution. The idea of self-preser­vation which actuates men to agree to the authority of sovereign serves as a positive limitation to the unbridled passions and authority of the sovereign. Men, who were, according to Hobbes, so egocen­tric and so jealous of their freedom that they remained at war against one another in the state of Nature, cannot be reduced under auy cir cumstances to the state of slavery. They submit to the authority of sovereign purely on the utilitarian ground and a society which is based on a utilitarian principle cannot be regarded as a society of mere slaves or of 'unprofitable mass* as Vaughan wrongly thinks.

    2. Social Contract and Leviathan's Sovereign Authority


      1. Vaughan, C. E. : History of Political Philosophy (Manchester University Press, England, 1925), p. 53.

      2. Ibid., p. 51.

      3. Ibid., p. 54.

      Hobbes's remarks on Natural Laws serve as a forceful reminder of the fact that Leviathan's authority is legitimate only because of the consent of each individual. Men can be forced to obey a de facto sovereign power, but they have nn moral obligation to do so in the



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    2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

    1. sense that they have a moral obligation to obey fhe Leviathan that they have authorized to act for them. His doctrine of social contract was an attempt to answer the question, "Why do men obey the state ?" not "What is the historical origin of it ?" In employing it Hobbes was remarking, "This is how I can best explain my idea of the state," and his advice is legitimate since his is an analytical and not a historical problem—a problem on which there has been a great fuss since the 17th century and on which Hobbes's doctrine of social contract has been much challenged. In fact, his doctrine of social contract ought to be understood in a logical and not in a chronological sense. It was mainly concerned with the origin of the state, not in time but in reason. Over and above, for Hobbes as for Burke, "politics ought to be adjusted, not to pure human reasonings, but to human nature : of which the reason is but a part, and by no means the greatest part." Given such an individual as the one with whom Hobbes starts, no other contract than this is conceivable. Admitting the fact that man's nature is constant, only such a contract as this, Wayper rightly rema.ks, "can ensure that the natural result of man's nature, namely chaos, will not also be constant. The reflection of a lantern can be changed by the insertion of a lens through which its rays must pass without any alteration being made to the lantern it­self, and the chaos which is the normal result of a man's quest for Felicity in a world in which he is not alone can be changed into peace without any alteration in man himself—but only by insertion between man and the screen of the world of the artificial lens, which is Leviathan.""

    2. Estimate of Hobbes

    3. On the basis of our above discussion of Hobbes's political doc­trines can finally draw that his work, Leviathan is the first consis­tent statement of "complete sovereignty" in the history of political thought. The state in the Greek political thought had a high moral and spiritual character. Both legal and ethical aspects were blended in it. It was not an organization in the ordinary sense but an organi­zation—a moral organization, as politics, to the Greeks, was the ethics of whole society. In the Roman political thought the state was conceived as the legal sovereign, but the political sovereignty lay with the people as a whole. The delegation of authority by a governmental contract, and not by a social contract, was made to the public officials, although the delegation was considered completely irrevo­cable. Political authority in the Middle Ages was regarded as the expression of justice. The medieval thinkers held, with the Greek writers like Plato and Aristotle, that the propagation of justice and right is one of the great functions of the state. The state, as such, had as much to do with the moral conduct of a man as the Church.

    4. 26 Wayper, C. L. : op. cit., p. 62.



    1. THOMAS HOBBES

    2. 279

    1. Machiavelli was struggling with two different systems of government —Princedom and Republic—and his views lacked consistency regard­ing any definite theory of state. Bodin, who is regarded as the first to maintain explicitly the doctrine of state sovereignty, subjected the absolute king to the common custom, the law of Nature and the law of God. Hence it was Hobbes who first propounded a doctrine of the absolute and unrestricted sovereignty of the state. His sovereign enjoys an absolute authority over his subjects, and his powers can neither be divided nor limited either by the law of Nature or by the law of God. He is all in all.

    2. Nevertheless, the state, Hobbes emphatically asserted, is a machine, an artifact, a contrivance of man. It is based on mutual agreement between men. Viewed in the light of Hobbes's theory of contract, the meaning of state becomes clear and understandable. "Once men view the state as something made by themselves, they may think that they can build something other and better than Leviathan." According to Hobbes, the most important thing about the state is that it is nothing more than a machine.

    3. Lastly, Hobbes's Leviathan is not only a forceful enunciation of the theory of sovereignty and of the machine view of the state. It is also a powerful statement of individualism. While discussing the origin of the state, Hobbes made the purpose of government quite distinct from the point of view of the individual members. The resulting estimate of the government is wholly secular and utilitarian. The advantages of government are tangible and they must accrue quite tangibly to individuals, in the form of peace, comfort and security of person and property. This is the only ground upon which government can be justified or even exist. Hobbes did not let us forget that the state exists to serve men's needs and that its moral authority derives from the consent of the governed. Wayper correct­ly remarks on this point that "Hobbes is no liberal or democrat, but he is a thorough individualist, not because he believes in the sanctity of individual man, but because for him the world is and must always be made up of individuals.",7 And the recognition of self-interest as the dominant motive in life has been the most perva­sive tendency in modern times. As such, Hobbes's Leviathan is, in Professor Oakeshott's words, "the greatest, perhaps the sole, master­piece of political philosophy written in the English Language."













    4. 27 Wayper, C. L. : op. cit., pp. 64-65. (Italicized word mine)

    5. JOHN LOCKE (I 632- I 704)



    6. Influences and His Works

    7. Born at Wrington in Somersetshire in 1632, Locke is regarded as the greatest figure in the history of English political thought. He came of Puritan parents, and was for fourteen years educated in his own family circle—a little pocket of peace in a restive country soon to be plunged into civil war. He was educated at Westminster and Oxford—of which his recollections, like those of Hobbes, were not the most complementary. Judging from some of his observations in a later essay entitled Thoughts on Education, he was most unhappy at school, forming a poor opinion not merely of Westminister but of public schools in general. Even at Oxford, where he went in 1652 and stayed for thirty years, and where he considered an atmosphere more congenial to his already precocious mind, he was not very happy. Governed by Independents and crowded with Presbyterians, Oxford was becoming a hot-bed of fanaticism and heresy-hunting ; and although Locke was by upbringing favourable to Puritanism, he found a great dad less liberty in the new regime than he had ex­pected. Nevertheless, such men as Owen and Godwin were advo­cates of genuine religious liberty, and inspired in Locke that devotion to the idea of Toleration upon which he was later to write with such eloquence.

    8. Recounting his early career to his patroness, Lady Masham, Locke later confessed that he was far from being a model student. Nevertheless, he studied in his own way, read widely, including the works of Descartes and Hobbes. The writings of Descartes awakened his interest in philosophy, and his friendship with Robert Boyle aroused his enthusiasm for the natural sciences. He became a stu­dent of medicine and then was appointed physician to Lord Ashley. He was later appointed confidential secretary to Lord Shaftesbury, the founder of the Whig parly. This association with the brilliant but erratic Shaftesbury was to influence Locke's life just as his con­nection with the Devonshires had influenced Hobbes's, and it gave him what Hobbes lacked, direct experience of practical, political affairs.

    9. Notwithstanding, the parallel between his life and that of Hobbes i? sticking. Each studied at Oxford, for which each had little use. Each on leaving the University formed connections which influenced his whole life. Each wrote against a background of hectic political



    1. JOHN LOCKE

    2. 281

    1. life and finally of revolution. Each sought refuge and safety abroad, and each peacefully completed his life in England. Each was an acknowledged political figure. But their conclusions regarding the ultimate goal of human life and the theory of state were widely divergent, and in the reputations that were theirs they differed as much as men may. Hobbes, to quote C. L. Wayper, "roused the wrath and resentment of Englishmen ; Locke won their enthusiastic regard. His was the perfect justification for their perfect revolution —typically English alike in its lack of bloodshed, its respect for pro­perty, and its refusal to push matters to their logical conclusions." He emerged as a public figure, and was appointed in 1673, on Ashley's influence (afterwards famous as Earl of Shaftesbury), Secre­tary to the Council of Trade and Plantations.

    2. His immersion in public life undoubtedly proved beneficial not only to Locke himself, but also to philosophy. He was never to suffer from that ingrown academic mentality which afflicts so many scholars and otherwise able thinkers. At Exeter House, where he met persons of every sort, he could select at will those with whom he wished to form lasting associations. Like many others who are sur­rounded by a throng of people, he enjoyed best the company of a small group of intimates. Out of a little 'study circle' at Exeter House in 1671 developed the greatest enterprise of his life. Five or six friends' bad assembled, at Locke's invitation, to discuss the 'principles of morality and religion'. They were soon baffled by 'difficulties that arose on every side'. Locke suggested that, as a prelude to such discussion, the members should think out for them­selves the limits of man's capacity for knowledge. At first he believ­ed it possible to jot down on 'a single sheet of paper' what these limits were ; but he soon found the task more arduous than he could have dreamed possible. Thus 'what was begun by chance was continued by entreaty, written by incoherent parcels, and after long intervals of neglect resumed again as humour and occasions permitted.' Twenty years were to pass before the great Essay Concerning Human Understanding was finally completed, but such were its small begin­nings.

    3. His Essay Concerning Human Understanding

    4. Locke finished the Essay, contributed articles to Le Clerc's Bibliotheque Universelle (these latter were his first publications), and, thus, embarked at the age of fifty-four upon the career for which he had been so long preparing, that of authorship. The next two years were occupied in consolidating his fame. He had a large number of manuscripts ready for the press, which were issued one after another to a now eager receptive public ; the Letters on Toleration, the two Treatises on Civil Government (published anonymously), and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding itself. After that Locke, partly from inclination and partly on account of his health (which the climate of



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    2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKEKr

    1. London had never suited), decided to retire to the country. This was to prove the most pleasant exile of all thai he had experienced. His hosts, Sir Francis and Lady Masham, were the embodiments of hospitality and, what was much to Locke's taste, of human under­standing. And thus Locke spent the last years of his life at the little village of Oates, conveniently situated twenty miles out of London, in the heart of Essex.

    2. John Locke was the apostle of the Revolution of 1688, the most moderate and the most successful of all revolutions. Its aims were modest, but they were exactly achieved, and no subsequent revolution has hitherto been found necessary in England. Locke faithfully embodied its spirit, and most of his works appeared within a few years of 1688. His chief work in theoretical philosophy, the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, was finished in 1687 and published in 1690.

    3. His Essay is the most important book, upon which his fame most securely rests ; but, at the same time, his influence on the philo­sophy of politics was so great and so lasting that he, to quote B. Russell, "must be treated as the founder of philosophical liberalism as much as of empiricism in theory of knowledge."1 Locke was the most fortunate philosopher, who completed his work in theoretical philosophy just at the moment when the government of his country fell in the hands of men who shared his political opinions. Both in practice and in theory, the views which he advocated were held, for many years to come, by the most vigorous and influential politicians and philosophers. His political doctrines, with the developments due to Montesquieu, are embedded in the American Constitution, and are to be seen at work whenever there is a dispute between President and Congress. The British Constitution was based upon his doctrines until about fifty years ago, and so was that which the French adopted in 1871. In fact, there is an intimate connection between his theory of knowledge and his politics, and this connection is fully evident not only in France, but also in England (although comparatively in a lesser degree).


      1. 1 Russell, B. : A History of Western Philosophy (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1947, 2nd impression), p. 628.

      A characteristic of Locke, which descended from him to the whole Liberal movement, is lack of dogmatism. Some few certainties he took over from his predecessors—our own existence, the existence of God, and the truth of mathematics. But whenever his doctrines differ from those of his forerunners, they are to the effect that truth is hard to ascertain, and that a rational man will hold his opinions with some measure of doubt. This temper of mind is obviously con­nected with religious toleration, with the success of parliamentary democracy, with laissez-faire, and with the whole system of liberal



    1. JOHN LOCKE

    2. 283

    1. maxims. Although he was a deeply religious man, a devout believer in Christianity who accepted revelation as a source of knowledge, he nevertheless hedged round professed revelations with rational safe­guards. On one occasion he said : "Revelation must be judged by reason." Thus in the end reason remains supreme.

    2. What Locke meant by 'reason' is to be gathered from his whole book. There is, it is true, a chapter called 'Of Reason', but this is mainly concerned to prove that reason does not consist of syllo­gistic reasoning, and is summed up in the sentence : "God has not been so sparing to men to make them barely two-legged creatures, and left it to Aristotle to make them rational." Reason, as Locke used thi term, consists of two parts : first, an inquiry as to what things we know with certainty ; second, an investigation of pro­positions which it is wise to accept in practice, although they have only probability and not certainty in their favour. "The grounds of probability." he said, "are two—conformity with our own experience, or the testimony of others' experience." The king of Siam, he remarked, ceased to believe what Europeans told him when they mentioned ice.

    3. Founder of Empiricism

    4. Locke may be regarded as the founder of empiricism, which means that all our knowledge is derived from experience. Accor­dingly, the first book of the Essay is concerned in arguing, as against Plato, Descartes and the scholastics, that there are no innate ideas or principles, Locke launched a frontal attack upon a priori thinking in general. If truth is native to our minds, he said, observation and ex­perimental enquiry will lead us nowhere ; at best they can merely confirm our knowledge, never add to it. And it is doubtful whether, taking the word confirmation literally, they can even confirm such knowledge; because an indubitable 'inner' conviction of the kind furnished by Descartes's Cogito, for instance, needs no additional evi­dence in its favour. In Locke's opinion, however, we arrive at know­ledge by a method which is the reverse of that of the spider, who spins its web out of its own bowels. We do not nurture ideas from within, we acquire them from without. There are no 'innate ideas'. AH our ideas (i. e., all our knowledge) areaquired through and in sensation. In the second book, Locke set to work to show, in detail, how experi­ence gives rise to various kinds of ideas. Having rejected innate ideas, he said:

    5. "Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas ; how comes it to be fur­nished ? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has ] ainted on it with an almost endless variety ? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge ?



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    2. grbat political thinkers

    1. To this I answer in one word, from experience : in that all our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself."2

    2. Our ideas are derived from two sources : (1) sensation, and (2) perception of the operation of our own mind, which may be called 'internal sense'. Since we can only think by means of ideas, and since all ideas come from experience, it is evident that none of our knowledge can antedate experience.

    3. Perception, he said, is "the first step and degree towards know­ledge, and the inlet of all the materials of it." This may seem to a modem man, almost a truism, since it has become part of educated common sense, at least in English-speaking countries. But in his day the mind was supposed to know all sorts of things a priori, and the complete dependence of knowledge upon perception, which he pro­claimed, was a new and revolutionary doctrine.

    4. To 'know', in Locke's view, is to perceive a relation between ideas. Ideas, according to him, are of two kinds. These are : first, simple ideas, derived either immediately in sensation, or by a kind of 'inner' experience called reflection ; second, there are complex ideas, which are no more than combinations of the first. The mind or spirit of man originally resembles an empty tablet: experience is that which writes upon it. Before we admit sensation, we cannot engage in thinking : nihil est in intellectu quod non antea fuerit in sensu—'There is nothing m the intellect which was not previously in the senses.'

    5. That which causes an idea to be produced in our mind is, in Locke's terminology, the 'quality' of the external object. And here Locke introduced a distinction which has played an important role in all later philosophical thought.

    6. Qualities, such as, solidity, extension, form, number, etc. are all constant qualities : to whatever alterations the body or object is subjected, these qualities suffer no change. Such qualities Locke called'primary'. They are to be distinguished from what he called 'secondary' qualities, which, though not to be found m the object itself, are the result of the impact of some power in the primary qualities upon our sense organs. Such secondary qualities are colours, odours, sounds, tastes, etc. : qualities occasioned by the ob­ject, but produced as a result of something which we, as observers, con­tribute. Without human sense organs, colours and sounds, odours and tastes would simply not exist.


      1. 2 Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book II, Chap, I, Sec. 2.

      Granted that we know all things through sensation, or that all our knowledge purely depends upon perception it does not follow at all that our perception of things or our experience of the external world is always identical. In fact, the experience or the knowledge about a thing varies from time to time and from person to person. This poses a problem which is of a g. eat importance to both a psy-



    1. JOHN LOCKE
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