There are many philosophical works that have been stipulated to explain the driving force behind the control of human beings. Some philosophers argue that human beings are products of nature and therefore the control of their behavior is by nature. They have a strong sense of reasoning that enables them to take control of their lives. Others still argue that human beings must have a formal institution that controls their behaviors. People are always full of evil desire and greed. Therefore, they need to be tamed in order to have a balanced society. This study examines the works of three philosophers and their arguments on the power of human reasoning. Locke and believes that human beings have the power to control their behaviors towards themselves and also toward their fellows. Machiavelli on the other hand regards human beings as children who should always be given directions in life.
Thought Perspectives of the Three Philosophers
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John Locke in his work argues that human beings are governed by the law of reason. All human beings were created by God with a sense of reasoning. People can co-exist in communities by exercising this sense of reasoning on their actions towards others and themselves. Human beings are governed by the law of nature. This law mandates every person to apply reasoning before a decision to do an action. According to Locke therefore, human nature is defined as the capacity to govern one’s action by way of reasoning.
God gave dominion to all men over the creation of the earth. Therefore, it is only common sense that man was also given the ability to rule over the creation (Two Treaties of Government, 1988 Chapter 25). This is through the power of reason.
Human beings are governed by self-rule. This is through the way of reasoning. Therefore, individuals can be trusted to manage and control their own affairs. They have the power to protect their right to health, liberty, life and their possessions. This self-interest is also consistent with the interest for others. Locke believes that the same measure of enthusiasm put on one’s own business can also be extended towards others (Two Treaties of Government1988 Chapter 29). Human beings are hesitant to give up on their stations. They are governed by the law of preserve. They are required by law of nature to preserve themselves and the property within their jurisdiction. By nature, individuals also extend the desire to preserve others.
Locke continues to state that human beings do not need a formal state of government. There is no need for authoritative leadership within a given political system. The rational desire to keep promises and perform their obligations will make them to cultivate self-discipline. The self preservation law of nature will lead individuals to desire to preserve their well being and that of others. Locke says that this form a cluster of community that is characterized by peace and is corporative. If these clusters are joined together, they form a state that is peaceful. Therefore, we do not need formal laws to govern us. We only need to be subjects to the law of nature that requires us to apply reasoning before taking an action. This law will lead us to preserve liberty and freedom. Therefore, individuals will not engage in acts that brings conflicts and disunity.
However, Locke is quick to point out that human beings are always selfish and self-seeking. The drive to fulfill selfish desires is much higher than that to attend to others. It is at this instance that the government is very vital in the society. The government’s main purpose is to establish and implement a code of morality within the society. Thus the government plays an important role of redirecting human behavior toward human natural law to sustain and preserve life, liberty and property.
Machiavelli had a belief that human beings are children. They are children on the perspective of their desires and passions in life. Human beings are motivated by the desire to create more wealth, power, security and hatred of restrictions. People are always greedy, ungrateful, deceptive and greedy. According to Machiavelli, there is no existence of democracy. This gives the reason why there were no political structures that had history of succession.
Human beings always fight for power. Everyone desires to rule and exercise authority over others (subordinates). The private interests of the ruler are always opposite those of the subordinates. The virtues of a ruler are governed by the civic rules rather than religious tenets like Christianity. The civic virtues allow an individual (ruler) to pursue their own interests without caring for those of the subjects. Therefore, a virtuous leader is one that pursues his own interests without interfering with those of the subjects.
The motivations of a leader are love, hatred, fear and cruelty. Machiavelli evaluates each of the motivators and comes up with his assumptions. Love I a poor motivator. When people are faced with situation that they need to make urgent decisions, then love cannot be enforced. This is because at this time, love lacks the binding force. Therefore, love is not a good motivator the subjects to follow the instructions of their ruler.
Cruelty is a very effective force. When a leader exercises some for cruelty, the subjects will automatically be disciplined. Discipline is required in the military (The Prince, 1958). The leader therefore is allowed to use cruelty on their subjects. The subjects who have a cruel leader will always be disciplined. They will be able to respond very fast to matters of emergency.
However, Machiavelli is careful to point out that leaders should take caution as they perform their duties. Even though it is important to exercise cruelty on the subjects to create discipline, it is also important not to very cruel. A leader who is always cruel to the subjects is always hated. The subjects become rebels and untamed. Therefore, a leader should be able to exercise moderate cruelty.
Fear is a great tool that can be used to exercise authority over people. The fear of danger among the people gives rise to the need of a leader. The leader must be one that is very aggressive. He must assure the individuals in demonstration that he is above their fears. The individuals will exercise collective responsibility. Since they have a common goal, which is fighting fear, they will always be in groups that are very tight. The leader can therefore decide to use this opportunity to exercise authority on the subjects.
Machiavelli believed that there is no permanent or a state of nature that ever existed. He believed that Christianity has greatly influenced that good nature of human beings. The religion has watered down all the positive aspects of human nature (The Prince, 1958). Christianity has led to the corruption of human race. The virtues of humanity have been replaced by dogmatic and backward principles of Christianity.
Human beings therefore need a government that offers sound leadership. The ruler/ government is mandated with the objective of ensuring that the social fabric is restored. The leader, though the exercise of authority ensures that the law breakers are punished and shown the right way. This way, Machiavelli believes will restore the virtues that are missing within the society.
Karl Marx, in his conflict theory states that there are two groups of people. These are the capitalists and the working class. The capitalists are the dominant group. They exercise authority and control over the working class (Communist Manifesto, 1848). The capitalists provide direction and instructions for the working class. The working class provides the required labor needed in the society.
The capitalists own the firms and the resources in the society. They make a lot of profits by paying the workers less the amount that they work for. The capitalists are the ones that control the production processes. They give orders to the working class to follow. The political oppression by the capitalists is directly linked to the economic exploitation. The capitalists use the economic power to gain political power over the working class. This power is therefore used to have control over the state and make political decisions. Religion also plays a role in the biased power exercise.
The religion seems to favor those that own a lot of resources and are very intelligent. This means that religion has put the capitalists above the working class (Communist Manifesto, 1848). It is very unfortunate that the working class is denied their rights and privileges within the society. It is very ironical that the religion that should offer protection over everyone is seen to be biased. Marx therefore notes the need for a neutral leader. This leader must be able to exercise unbiased judgment on the society. This will create equality.
From the above analysis, it is clear that in one way or the other, human beings must be controlled. The three philosophers agree that people always have a tendency to seek for their own satisfaction and ignore others. There is need for an instituted government that ensures that the society is balanced. This can be civil (amongst the people themselves) or a formal institution. The government ensures that law-breakers are punished according to the level of crime they committed.