"JP" Tabakian Web Portal


Los Angeles Trade-Technical College
Cleveland Chiropractic College
News & Information Links
The Federalist Papers
Election Results Affecting California
Contact Instructor Tabakian
Fall 2007 Documents
By: John Paul Tabakian

This paper offers students of the political sciences (or interested readers) a brief history lesson of how the American Political System came to fruition beginning with a look at those classical political theorists whom our Founding Fathers admired. This paper is divided into various subsections examining political science from the perspective of classical philosophers. Section 1 addresses a question that remains on the mind of every political scientist today. Its title quotes verbatim this question, “Is Politics Natural?” We will try to answer this question using Aristotle as our primary source of information since this was a matter of great concern to him. Section 2 “Higher Good Vs. Practicality” carries over Aristotle’s assertion that the true nature of man is to act according to the higher good along with Niccolo Machiavelli’s argument that practicality is the fundamental priority of politics. The section strives to address the following question, “Should politicians strive to accomplish agendas that serve the common good or must decisions be based on survival or furthering of one’s position?” Section 3 “Addressing Social Contract Basics” deals with the subject of social contracts that man establishes in order to establish government. This section also examines how government is accorded legitimacy.



Politics is one of many natural states of engagement that man possesses. Labeling politics as “evil” serves no purpose but to incite resentment of humanity among the ignorant classes of society. Casting grandeur declarations that politics is a useless tool, created by human beings solely to maintain order and to ensure social stability, is a useless endeavor. In truth, politics does allow for the maintaining of order. The pursuit of justice also serves to meet this end. However, it does not mean that politics is necessarily “evil”. Instead, it should be viewed as more of an intellectual means assigned by nature for man to join others in the pursuit of common interests.


With the city-state existing as a natural result of those inherent needs that drives man, it solidifies the natural roles of all those residing in a polis. Equating biology, thereby recognizing the natural state of order among all living things, one may adopt the belief that political science is itself empirical and normative. Believing this allows one to adopt the view that it does indeed make sense to recognize politics as a natural science.


Nature is basically a jungle filled with wild animals, forests, vegetation and human beings. Being that humans posses the capacity for reason as well as communicating with their fellow man, their ability to interact is in itself a social condition of being. This social ability is derived from nature and according to one’s professed religious beliefs; you could even make the argument that a supreme being has had a role in this as well. To make the claim that politics is a natural state of being is another thing entirely, because its classification is itself a definition for governing. The only possible reason for man to engage in this practice is to interact with a government. Politics does not apply when man finds himself alone, or with a few others. Political engagement may not be considered as natural as socialization, for man always pursues the latter.


Aristotle states that inherent within man’s natural state of being, there exists different roles that are designated according to the need of any community. Special virtues are rewarded to those who accept their roles without question, beginning with those terms identified by Aristotle in the household, where the roles of husbands, wives, children and slaves are defined. Roles are assigned, for no man is able to exercise the same talents while producing exact levels of quality in their finished work (Politics, Book 1, Chapter 4, 1253b1).


Though communities requires different roles to be filled, Aristotle is not clear as to how a polis can determine for itself what its residing residents should pursue as their contribution to their community. There is certainly no mention as to how such a practice can be effectively enforced, not to mention how this practice can be forced upon individuals. As the polis consists of citizens with enough leisure time to participate in government functions, it is the citizenry that determines those roles to be filled. Government itself has no emotions, or soul. Rather, it is the political activism of a few elites according to Aristotle that makes all government decisions.


Following the primitive condition of the household is the village consisting of a conglomeration of households united in mutual aid to secure those advantages of cooperation, working together for the betterment of all those in existence. Beyond these communities of villages exists the natural form of fully realized community life, the polis. Sustaining human life in order to achieve the optimal perfection of human existence, it grants man the ability to fully realize their potential, through the application of reason, among all those in participation of the polis.


At its most primitive level, the household exemplifies those advantages of interaction between man and woman for procreation, of ruler and ruled, including ruled for mutual security. Man being suited by nature for rule over the power of reasoning, is therefore capable of determining the most advantageous direction for the common welfare. As is directed by nature, man remains a servant, accorded the physical and mental power to affect any such policy determined to be proper, while remaining benevolent to his wiser master (Politics, Book I, Chapter 5, 1254b16).


Being of the human condition, Aristotle states that children must obey for they are in a state of development. Wives maintain control over the household under the direction of their husband, for they possess a lower degree of reason. Finally, slaves remain subservient to those chores delegated by those in the household in order for the family to pursue the good life (Politics, Book 1, Chapter 4, 1253b23). Though the husband remains above all in terms of rank among his family, he is equal to those in the same standing as himself among the polis, fulfilling humankind’s highest ability: politics.


Children require guidance in order to pursue their full capabilities as human beings. This is without question, for parents are a necessary factor in a child’s life in terms of instilling discipline, direction, education, and society’s norms and values. With regards to the slavery issue, today’s civilized society will not tolerate its existence, though it remains applicable in other parts of the world. Women no longer are required to remain within the confines of the family home. Even men today no longer have to be the primary breadwinner or the main connecting base between the government and the home.


Aristotle argues that for man to understand the distinctive form of community life as the polis, he must resist any temptation to morally reconstruct human community existence. Man must recognize that political life is itself natural, for it in effect controls the environment through reason, language and morality. Realizing that man’s personal distinction must be recognized, politics serves as the avenue for one to demonstrate to others their human capacity. Man possesses a unique natural place in a hierarchy of life among various species of creatures, as well as possessing unique possibilities of development. At this level, man takes pleasure in participating in continued development and realization among all creatures (Politics, Book 1, Chapter 2, 1252b28).


Man is certainly in a position of dominance among the animals of the Earth. In all facets of life this is without question. Aristotle contradicts himself with regards to his ascertainment that man must build upon their personal distinction, including any special talents that can be profited both for themselves, as well as society. Unfortunately, he claims that the proper roles to be filled are to be determined by the polis and that the individual’s social standing will be a determinant factor, as to what their future in society will be. For if man takes pleasure in participating in continued development, the polis will be a detriment to many of those who will find themselves equal to many creatures.


Possessing the power of reason makes man unique among all creatures for he is not only capable of experiencing pleasure and pain, but unlike the lower animals, can also discriminate between good and evil, justice and injustice, and to share among others his core set of values and beliefs. Thus, man unlike any other animal fulfills himself naturally in forms of shared existence. These forms of community allow for the natural interaction among differing individuals participating in life’s pursuit within that society (Politics, Book 3, Chapter 9, 1280a7). Thus being a doctrine that views each individual or concrete matter of existence as a blend of matter and form.


In order to understand why something, or someone assumes a particular role in society, we identify four fundamental causes: material (individual’s medium), efficient (individual’s conception translated to their medium), formal (individual’s form striven to externalize), and final (individual’s product following the creative process). For any participating city to be legitimate, it must devote itself to the end of encouraging goodness, instead of their political association among fellow actors to delve into a mere alliance, thereby lacking the ability to encourage citizens to be good and just. (Politics, Book 3, Chapter 9, 1280b6).


There are many functions that must be filled in order for a self-sufficient polis to materialize. Political association grants man the capability of communicating with others in the pursuit of maximizing everyone’s full potential, thereby working towards the good of all. Many may consider this argument as aristocratic in tone. However, it constitutes an optimal sense of human well being in a polis community. These necessary functions are: (1) food production, (2) provision of essential goods and services, (3) maintenance of order within and defense against enemies, (4) accumulation of surplus wealth to sustain private expenditures and security forces, (5) cultic functions of polis-religion, and (6) policy making and dispensation of justice (Politics, Book 7, 1332b12).


This order of assigned functions grants a polis the ability to provide for its own sustenance. Every assigned role is indeed important to the survivability of the polis. However, only those who were able to develop higher uses of reason in the citizen virtues of participation, in judicial and policy-making decisions could be citizens. Therefore, only those fortunate to possess requisite leisure, thereby allowing time to pursue higher uses of reason could be citizens (Politics, Book 7, 1332b35).


It is true that societies must be able to survive, thereby requiring specific roles to be filled. As the polis determines who shall fill any determined role in society, it is abundantly unfair to mankind in its entirety. As children do not have a say as to what family they are born into, the stigma of being shuffled according to their social status has no merit in today’s society. There is no justice afforded to those who come from poor working class backgrounds, for Aristotle argues that individuals who cannot live lives of leisure are not capable of participating in government.


Before delving into the necessity of justice in order to ensure social stability, justice itself must be defined. Principles of oligarchy and democracies all have definitive conceptions of justice. Generally, justice is determined to mean equality. According to Aristotle, this does not entail equality for all, but only those who are equal depending on their natural assigned roles. Inequality is then to be considered to be just, but for only those who are unequal and not for all (Politics, Book 3, Chapter 9m 128027). The idea of absolute justice is supposed to be a principle of what all constitutions should be based on, regardless of its type (Politics, Book 3, Chapter 12, 1282b14). 


Aristotle remains defiant over the fact that equal justice can only apply to those who are equal. Therefore, those born below the social threshold of society can never be afforded the full protection of the law in terms of equal participation, as well as facing possible enslavement without due recourse. Determining proper ways to determine who may be given citizenship remains a divisive issue to this date. However, civilized society may not look fondly upon his assertions that citizenship is not attainable, even by those born within a society to parents belonging to a class that falls below the threshold of leisure.


It is not appropriate to show disdain for Aristotle’s seemingly approval of slavery or his supposedly racist, sexist ideology according to present day norms. Instead, one should look at the argument presented in “Politics” for its strive towards a standard of living enforced by a constitution that strives for the greatest good of government. Aristotle’s practical side is very strong in that it does not deviate from the goal of ultimate justice, thereby striving towards the greatest good of all. Theoretically speaking, the philosopher makes some very good points as to man’s role in nature as a political animal. For a person to influence political thought for thousands of years, Aristotle has certainly had an influence on world history.


If one insists on applying today’s norms and values on Aristotle’s works, then he may be labeled with those terms applicable to one who promotes slavery, relegating females to the home and maintaining an elitist dogma that allows for equal justice for those who are deemed worthy in wisdom and wealth. As one may argue that society to date is seen to be a controlling factor, Aristotle’s polis goes all the way in terms of rigidity.


If continuously instilled in man, norms and beliefs have a way of becoming semi natural, thereby instilling confusion as to whether nature itself has engrained these instincts in man. This paper claims that Aristotle cannot equate political animalism with being a naturally embodied instinct. Man is indeed a social animal and the need to socialize is an inherent natural instinct. This is a biological fact as even the great philosopher has stated.


Politics has been taught over time as a necessary form of action in order to participate in government affairs. There is no argument there. However, it is not a necessary “evil” per say in order for human beings to maintain order and social stability. Though it does provide order and social stability, there is no evidence to prove that politics is “evil”. To do so would require a theological argument, for a definition of “evil” entails a discussion of morality, which has no place in the political arena.


This paper further claims that politics is a game of skill played by actors willing to engage in the free exchange of ideas, enforced with power. How a skill can be defined as “evil” is beyond the comprehension of reason. Political engagement in governmental affairs for example can be argued to serve either “good” goals or “evil” ones. That does not equate to identifying politics as being “evil”. Aristotle is right in defining human beings as animals, for that is what we are. Political animals can be another definition of animals engaging in political discourse. For it to be “evil” is an entirely different area. This paper posits that for those who are determined on defining politics as being “evil” should do so through the utilization of theological arguments.



Countless philosophers have debated the fundamentals of politics in contrast to their own perceptions of human nature. Determining the true purpose of political engagement remains unanswered, as different philosophers have volunteered their definitions according to their fundamental understanding of mankind. Politics can never be dismissed as a useless tool that is utilized for maintaining order or to preserve social stability. It is much more than this, for the basis of politics is to engage in a science that grants one the opportunity to exert influence so as to achieve a predetermined goal.


This paper will critically discuss two philosophical views over the nature and purpose of politics, one classical and the other representing one of the first modern views on the topic. Regarded as one of the first major contributors on the application of politics, Aristotle offers an all encompassing explanation, including a well thought out argument about the necessity for man to pursue the science in order to further their species. A biologist, he believed that political science was empirical and normative. Balancing his philosophy with worldviews, he guided his work in a normative fashion. Machiavelli rejects most notions over the need to further mankind. Offering what continues to be argued as the first modern rendition of political engagement, Machiavelli argues that the fundamental basis for political engagement is the pursuit of power and nothing more.


There is a wide gulf between both philosophers as to the true nature and purpose of politics. Students of both philosophers will discover that they share a common belief that political engagement enriches those who revel in its practice. This pursuit may be seen as individualist enrichment, but in reality there are two common differences between both philosophers. Through a comprehensive comparison over their fundamental beliefs over the nature and purpose of politics, this paper strives to determine whether this similarity is accurate.


Aristotle claims that politics is a natural state of being that man pursues if their predetermined role allows them enough leisure time to participate in the functions of government (Politics, Book 1, Chapter 4, 1253b1). This eligibility enables man to pursue their ultimate ability, being empowered by nature to rule over the power of reasoning, thus able to determine the most advantageous direction for the common welfare (Politics, Book I, Chapter 5, 1254b16). He tailors his entire argument around his biological studies in order to demonstrate that politics is a natural undertaking in order to satisfy man’s ultimate goal: the pursuit of the good life.


Any effort by man in rejecting the notion that political life is natural is to also surrender their humanness to others. Serving as an avenue of demonstrating one’s humanity, politics is not to be seen as a method of achieving power per say, but it allows man to claim their unique natural place in a hierarchy of life among all of god’s creatures (Politics, Book 1, Chapter 2, 1252b28). This community in which man, being a political animal, finds himself in is the polis, a community that harbors others who also engage in politics. Aristotle thereby connects the originating nature of politics, with a relationship as to what is ultimately pursued. This ultimate goal is the continued development and strength of the polis as well as further refining man’s primary ability accorded by nature.


With man’s role designated by nature determining whether an individual is to be accorded adequate amounts of leisure in order to pursue politics, their existence is forever determined by the polis. Directed by an elite that is afforded with the privilege of citizenship, the polis determines who is to fill any given function within the community (Politics, Book 7, Chapter 14, 1332b35). Being that one major goal is to insure a self-sufficient polis, Aristotle states that dictated orders are necessary in order to guarantee the security of all who reside within the community (Politics, Book3, Chapter 9, 1280a7). Therefore, politics is not to be utilized solely for the pursuit of power, but to maximize the common good (Politics, Book 7, Chapter 14, 1332b12).


We can summarize Aristotle’s philosophy on the purpose of politics by restating his dictum, “Man is by nature a political animal” (Politics, Book 1, Chapter 2, 1253a2). This animal instinct inherent within man allows for the pursuit of truth, justice and most importantly, the continuation of his relationship with the polis. Aristotle has based his entire philosophy on his scientific analysis of human nature, including man’s standing among all creatures. The only basis for pursuing power through political engagement cannot be for any singular individual, but for the polis, as well as the strengthening of the human condition. To preserve the basis of the polis, no man can be allowed to pursue his own self-interests at the expense of others residing within the polis.


Machiavelli was a strong defender of republicanism, though prone to advocating a mixed government allowing monarchies a substantive role. Advocating ruthlessness and violence, he promoted an amoral view of politics, as well as being a strong believer that state affairs have no basis in morality. This modern day philosopher equated politics as being nothing more than a method to be utilized in order to achieve and maintain power. His various works including the Prince and the Discourses made him famous as being perhaps the first modern political philosopher who rejected morality in favor of offering a quick path to power (Machiavelli, The Prince, XVII, 60-63). Though he never authorized the Prince to be published, Machiavelli’s promotion of empire-contemporary warfare drew fire, while his Discourses provided a dictum of how to construct a strong republican foundation.


Politics itself was never romanticized as being an avenue for man to pursue in order to construct a Utopian civilization as other previous philosophers had done. Instead, his work provides a literary technique for minor princes and has to date inspired a countless number of individuals to utilize his teachings in order to garner power. Not only being regarded as the first modern political philosopher, but also a realist who engages Realpolitik head on, Machiavelli broke all ties to previous romanticism, focusing on achieving power: period.


This rejection though has resulted in his works to be void of philosophy. Instead, arguments are built on the building blocks of history, later refined according to a strategic understanding of human behavior, polished with a broad conception of history. Being that history is cyclical in nature, Machiavelli suggests that his arguments shall always remain applicable, even anticipating unforeseen events that are beyond the control of any potential prince (Machiavelli, The Discourses, LVI, 257-258).


Machiavelli refers to human nature as Aristotle previously does in an effort to base his arguments on empirical facts regarding the nature and purpose of politics. However, there are distinctive differences between the two of them that cannot be dismissed. Machiavelli proposes a ruthless application of politics in The Prince that addresses the necessary means to seize and stabilize power. In conjunction with his Discourses, it pursues the much broader subject of republicanism, thereby offering a means for pursuers of power to maintain what they have achieved.


Witnessing first hand the anarchical situation of Italy through what seemed to be constant warfare, one can understand why Machiavelli makes the case for seizing power in order to establish a temporary dictatorship in order to stabilize the people’s emotions before preceding to the establishment of a republican government (Machiavelli, The Prince, XXVI, 94-98). Thus, uniting through warfare, controlling the conquered by fear and preparing the region for republicanism (Machiavelli, The Discourses, XXXIV, 201-204).


Read in conjunction, both the Prince and the Discourses provide a methodological method for achieving power and how to cultivate that power into a system of governance that is stable. Researchers will discover that there are some inherent similarities in both works that provide a realist understanding of human nature. Machiavelli finds that men in general are ungrateful, anxious to avoid danger, always willing to covet gain at the expense of others and are easily corrupted (Machiavelli, The Discourses, XLII, 226).


Even a corrupt people can become free if conquered completely, followed with a willingness of a population to embrace new leadership that is uncorrupt (Machiavelli, The Discourses, XVII, 166). Machiavelli maintains that it is far better to be feared than loved, for it is always necessary to be prepared for possible revolts (Machiavelli, The Prince, XVII, 60-63). This pessimism is only exacerbated with his declaration that man’s openness to be coveted allows for rulers to easily deceive them. As all men are in most cases bad to the core, Machiavelli depends heavily on manipulation through political tactics as a form of power (Machiavelli, The Discourses, III, 117).


The engagement of politics has as its main objective the control of mankind, for nature has shaped their being, not political institutions. According to a realist philosophy based on nature, Machiavelli remains determined to push for the brutal pursuit of power, while disregarding any possible immoral results, as man knows nothing except brutality. This application of brute power must be tampered with the understanding that there is a limit to such brutal application of power (Machiavelli, The Prince, XVII, 60-63).


Political expedience must be tampered with sound judgment, as Machiavelli stresses that punishment must be carried out by the government against anyone who threatens its authority. It is never to be applied against any particular class, but be applicable to all classes (Machiavelli, The Discourses, XXIV, 181). This helps prevent any possible revolt, for they would be harder pressed to formulate a rebellion against someone who is feared in comparison to a prince who was not respected (Machiavelli, The Discourses, Chapter IV, 119-120).


Machiavelli instructs leaders to treat everybody as a potential assassin in the form of causing death through physical harm. Political harm may fall in line as being instrumental in orchestrating a revolution, or to gather enough support in order to conquer. Committed to the basics of realism while disregarding any temptation to sugarcoat the true meaning of political persuasion, this particular philosopher is committed to his perception that the only way to engage in politicking is through brutal tactics that include every known form of barbarism.


Aristotle on the other hand seems to base his arguments according to nature when laying out his position. Focused on presenting politics as a method for man to live according to their greatest abilities, Aristotle remains devoutly committed to the belief that politics not only benefits those who engage in its practice, but those within the community as well, for it strengthens the polis. Machiavelli relies on this foundation of empirical evidence as well, for both refer to human nature in order to justify their arguments. Furthermore, both philosophers are bent on insisting that those who engage politics do so based according to their self-interests. Aristotle deems this self-interest, as citizens striving to benefit their communities, whereas Machiavelli describes those who pursue politics as being only interested in achieving power.


It is interesting to note that both philosophers differ in opinion as to how one can determine the true intentions of those who engage politics. However, they share a similarity as to what an ideal government should be based upon. Machiavelli argues in his Discourses that the ideal form of government is one based on republicanism. Aristotle on the other hand may emphatically state his prejudice for a polis based government, but in reality they are almost the same. A polis is controlled mostly by an elite class that debates issues of importance and has in place a standard method of selecting representatives who acts according to the best interests of society. Republican based governments also consist of citizens who discuss issues and who also have methods of selecting representatives as well as other leaders.


Machiavelli is concerned primarily with those methods in which he explores how one is able to achieve and maintain power. Any discussion of legitimacy of particular methods used to gain such power is of no concern to him. Aristotle’s opinions on the legitimacy over particular authoritative bodies in a polis, how justice is dispensed and how to determine who should be considered a citizen or non-citizen is of no particular concern to Machiavelli. The realist is only concerned whether the method utilized to acquire power works and whether that power is capable of being maintained. Machiavelli dismisses any discussion of immorality as trivial matters, especially those denunciations concerning brutality.


In conclusion,  both philosophers base their arguments over the true nature of politics according to human nature. That is perhaps one of the few similarities that can be found, including each philosopher’s adherent belief of elitism, republican governments (though Aristotle’s is defined differently) and the importance of stability so as to thwart disintegration. Machiavelli rejects forthwith any association with utopianism as a substitute for brute simplicity over the practice of political engagement. Aristotle faithfully believes that man is inherently good, thus encouraging individuals to pursue politics for the good of all. Machiavelli rejects this notion with the declaration that men are basically evil who pursue politics for personal gain only. It is this difference over interpreting human nature that explains this great divide between two of the greatest philosophers known to man.



John Locke and Rousseau address the merits of exchanging certain natural rights or liberties for civil rights as afforded by a social contract that provides a foundation of laws assuring freedom and equality for all citizens. Though similar in terms of relaying the merits of a social contract, both Locke and Rousseau differ as to what political processes are necessary in order to guarantee the protection of civil rights or liberties. This paper seeks to address those fundamental differences between these two great philosophers on the issues of the social contract, freedom, equality and sovereignty.


Classical liberalism refers to the beginning in terms of a historical rendition of the periods capable of being identified in which man existed. John Locke is recognized as being one of the first to anticipate the rise of liberal thought in his time. American political thought has been heavily influenced by Lockean principle. Simply put, liberalism derived comes from the straightforward ideology of capitalism, as one cannot have one without the other. Locke justifies capitalism by utilizing liberalism to criticize inequality, shaping everything around the premises of liberty and equality, thus coming to the conclusion that society cannot have one without the other.


In justifying the glorious revolution of 1789, Locke equates ideology as a racial phenomenon. He proposes that man does not individually possess a specific ideology, but rather each held opinion on liberty is based upon external social factors that influence this estimation. With liberalism riding the coattails of capitalism through more widespread social practices, it is viewed as being equated with more than just capitalist arguments. Locke widens the case for liberalism by also likening it with religious, political, and cast freedom as well. Concerned with tolerance, freedom of speech and religious views, Locke embodies these with capitalism in his arguments for the social contract as man’s way of establishing a joint agreement with one another in order to formulate a foundation of governance that best seeks to guarantee those identified fundamental rights.


Locke argues that the law of god serves as the fundamental example of what constitutes natural rights from which life and liberty flow. As a rational enlightened thinker, he is very secular as his natural law argument demonstrates. Adopted to make Christianity more progressive, Locke argues that the law of reason is in actuality the law of nature with natural law governed by god. Based upon reason, his argument is based on logic as his principles are also universally based. In this natural state, equality as well as all power and jurisdiction is cyclical as is also common morality. He argues that in God’s eyes, no man has sovereignty by birth or any other greater freedom for all of man are seen in the same light under his eyes.


According to his natural law argument, Locke argues that man’s natural duty is to insure his self-preservation, which he bases on two qualifications. First, men do what is necessary for their pursuit of life, liberty and prosperity. Second, man can only take from another if it is dependent on preserving his own life, liberty and prosperity. This ethic of self-preservation is absolute only in a state of war, for when force without rights exists, it presents a theater through which violence exists outside the reach of law. This dictates what demands a given situation may call for in man’s struggle for self-preservation.


Basing his two principles of equality and liberty, Locke stresses that rights or duties accorded in a state of nature are based on natural law, or reason. His whole theory is based on the tenets of liberalism with a focus on relationships and conflict. He identifies man’s natural condition as a state of perfect freedom that orders their actions and deposes their passions according to the state of nature. Not being absolute, freedom is therefore accorded restraints with the state of nature regulating them according to the principles of reason (Locke, Second Treatise, II, 4).


Locke implicitly demonstrates how self-preservation is related to the conception of the holding of property. There is a moral statement that provides an abstract of what the condition of the state of nature is before any events have taken place with regards to the adoption of the social contract. These two are different though, for the moral statement is sufficient in terms of arguing the morality of the state of nature, but it does not quantify the issue of property in terms of its historical concept. He therefore signifies that all political theory is interrelated if his defense of property rights fits in natural law and self-preservation subsistence (Lock, Second Treatise, V, 24).


Furthering his explanation of the basis of morality as to how it justifies the holding of property, Locke examines how one can and cannot morally possess material goods. He states that the law of nature demands that no one shall waste or spoil anything that others could use. Arguing that one’s claims to the products of the earth is in truth owned in common by all, the right of subsistence cannot justify waste, for one does not own the Earth. Exercising natural law, he further states that justice demands excesses to be provided for others in order to assure their sustenance (Locke, Second Treatise, V, 25). The cultivation of land may make it the property of a man, but the fruits produced must be put to good use either through sale, or by giving it to others in order to insure that there shall be no waste. This argument is not inherently mentioned in his conception of a social contract, but it does constitute the common agreement that man must engage with his fellow man in order to assure not only order, but also a just society based on the laws of nature (Locke, Second Treatise, V, 26).


Envisioning an unseen hand of self-balanced and limited governmental power, his idea of the terms of a social contract begins to take fruition. Self-regulating capitalism is the overriding purpose of the establishment of this contract in order to insure that equality and freedom continues to exist outside of the state of nature. Addressing the needy deficiencies of the state of nature, Locke examines the need for common consent with the people following the basic tenets of natural law. Man thereby agrees to give their natural rights up in exchange for civil rights in return for order in a civil society.


Rule of law is necessary to understand if we are to conceptualize Lockean society. With the rule of law instituted, legislative powers must be generally applied to all who reside within its jurisdiction. Locke argues that its application must apply to all in the same fashion, fairly affecting all aspects of society. The state of nature dictates that the law must treat all people equally for no one has the right to control another absolutely. Equality before the law implies that everyone must be treated equally. Equal protection is also associated with limited government or constitutionalism. Application of the rule of law to the government and assuring that the power of the rulers of said government are based on the law and subject to them further demonstrates natural law’s requirement that no one shall be above the law (Rousseau, 2nd Discourse, 34). That is also why his call for an independent judiciary is absolutely essential in guaranteeing equal protection.


Jean Jacque Rousseau was a man of paradox in comparison to John Locke. The romantic Rousseau sailed against the common understanding of civilization through a moralistic view on life bent on hedonism. Answering the call to Calvinism only later to embrace Catholicism and later Calvinism once again, he based his philosophy upon his Socinian philosophical beliefs. Rousseau began his journey while mankind was busy attacking all its traditions. His own attacks on institutions were seen to be consistent with the French Revolution. This implication was levied over his argument that corruption by progress of knowledge and art is a product of history. This conservative based argument further expounded the belief that science and the arts undermined morals itself, as his call for rallying against the establishment was the basis for implicating him with furthering the rallying call for revolution.


Taking on an entirely different meaning than Locke, Rousseau pursues the true origins of inequality and rationalizes that it is not sanctioned by natural law. Man it seems only lives by those rules that he imposes on himself, thus dominating oneself but still possessing the basic fundamentals of freedom. He was aware that this ideal was limited in its application in that the ability to create such an environment was limited only by those sights set for a state. To the extent in which government varies, it presents a practical side, or more or less a moral content of political theory that is very dogmatic. His seeming rejection of representative government is propounded with his analogy that one cannot delegate one’s freedom to another. He therefore undermines the notion or autonomy of freedom as afforded by the social contract.


Rousseau understands that his philosophical argument is limited in scope for there still remains a dilemma of realizing how freedom can be recognized even in a direct democracy. He states that whoever shall refuse to obey the general will must be forced to do so by the people. This counters to his ideas on freedom in that it relays an unstated premise that it presupposes a connection between both the general and individual wills (Rousseau, Social Contract, 1, 4). He further argues that freedom can be easily recognized if there is no occurrence of man imposing his own will on others and that the basis of political domination arising from inequalities is institutionalized to preserve inequalities.


Presenting the concept of general will in an effort to demonstrate how one can maintain their freedom if their opinion runs counter to a majority opinion, Rousseau argues that man’s fundamental rights are still preserved. Even in a democracy where the majority will imposes its views on the minority, the conception of freedom can be maintained under those conditions. In agreeing upon the fundamental principles of a government before it takes root, man agrees to those rules that dictate how decisions are to be derived. Thus, he argues that the concept of the general will serves as a basis of acknowledgement that adhering to the agreed upon will of the majority serves the good of all. In agreeing to such, it sets about a precedent that regardless of decisions made, everyone’s will prevails. The practical will of individuals does not cancel out each other. Like civil liberty being similar to the right of property, restraints applied by the general will is a conventional right and not a natural right. Rousseau further speaks of rational control through the emphasis of volition being natural control. This will over reason allows for the production of an ethically based uncorrupted will, or the general will.


General will is his attempt to address the empirical in terms of addressing not natural law, but instead relying upon the construction of politics based on moral law consisting of freedom enjoined with equality. These are the two principles exemplifying universal truth. Rousseau does not care for natural laws per say, but instead promotes moral law as a means for politics to shape the morals of the individual. Thus, it is his argument that the general will is the sovereign will of the political community formed by the social contract, for it represents the common good functions of culture and values inherent not only on the law itself, but upon the dictates of morality (Rousseau, Social Contract, 3, 185).


Principles of equality underlie the general will and there is a commonality of interest created by the social contract itself. The general will in turn reassures that the harmony of interests inherent within the common good is preserved. It is subject to the principles of equity, in turn not favoring one’s will over another. Introducing natural law into the general will, Rousseau argues that what is authentic is the recognition of sovereignty in terms of a government, such as acting in the capacity of ensuring the sovereign rights of a people. Therefore, general will is not particular in its application, but rather it is to be recognized as subjects obeying their own wills, thus the common will of a given society (Rousseau, Social Contract, 1, 6).


Rousseau does not believe that most people are capable of achieving those positions that are considered to be ideal. This presents a practical side to his arguments in taking account of life’s precarious conditions as represented in population, geography and social class, for any one of these factors determines what one may be able to achieve or not. His basis for the social contract addresses this concern in that it lays out those principles most critical in determining whether everyone can have a fair chance in achieving a set upon goal. These two basic principles are of course liberty and equality. Rousseau argues for the establishment of political equality so that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their set upon goals regardless of any preconditions they may find themselves as a result of birth into a social class.


Rousseau argues that as inequality becomes too great that liberty can no longer be recognized within a society. Locke on the other hand still argues that the liberties of some individuals are expendable if that is what the greater good demands. Rousseau views inequality as a great threat, as he states that the rich would be empowered to buy votes from the poor and that moral freedom can never exist under such a sever condition of inequality for it leads to domination (Rousseau, 2nd Discourse, 36). Locke does not seem to recognize Rousseau’s warning that extreme wealth causes freedom to become a commodity that only the rich can ever be able to afford, even though he asserts that society can never alienate the right of self-determination.


There is another deviation between both philosophers in that Locke suggests that consent is withdrawn by an individual who leaves the state of nature, thus entering into a newly constructed society based upon the tenets of a social contract. Regardless of the terms of this contract, he seems to suggest that the consent of the individual is no longer relevant to whatever actions may be taken by the newly formed government in how it governs over society. Rousseau disagrees with this conception entirely for he maintains that the power of consent always rests in the hands of the individual from the beginning of government to how it governs over society. Therefore, since man is only bound to obey himself, they are only morally bounded to obey those laws they had given their explicit consent.


Rousseau strikes again with his suggestion that since all individuals had to consent to the social contract and the creation of the state that they also had to agree in unison to any laws as well. In light of these observations, it seems that Locke favors a social contract allowing for rugged individualism at the expense of the greater good through the propagation of an elite based government. Rousseau on the other hand strikes of a more radical individual who like Locke supports the conception of a social contract, but seems to favor a more activist role for the government in assuring equality through political activism.


Enter supporting content here