Long before the modernization of time, a number of irreputable thinkers have already theorized on how they envisaged society and humankind. From Plato, down to Montesquieu; each of them has his own perspective on how man and state are. Some of them coincide while others completely discord.
Plato, a student of Socrates, believes that dramatists are not qualified to rule a state. Instead, the Guardian class must be put to the job. This is a body of philosopher oligarchs who are educated, and therefore, intellectually and morally fit to run a state. He, who rules the state, shall own no private property for this opens a possibility for him to transform into a tyrant. His most fervent apprentice, Aristotle, agrees with him that a state has an end. While Plato opines on having an ideal state where man is led to a good life, Aristotle also reckoned on the supreme good of man (moral and intellectual life). He otherwise stated that owning private property does not lead to tyranny, instead it leads him to becoming a better leader for it is a source of his pleasure. Unlike Plato’s idea of a Guardian class, Aristotle believed in the “rule of the many.” Man and woman, as long as he/she is qualified, should be allowed to take part in the political and social issues of the state. St. Thomas Aquinas is said to have “Christianized” his teacher, Aristotle’s pagan philosophy. A true leader, for him, is one who has discerned man’s true needs. Man needs society. Society is natural to man, and so is government. Man rules the state with the divine justification of God, who created him. Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian Renaissance man, contradicts his Christian view of the state. He deemed that morals are in no way related to politics. Man, according to him, is selfish and brutish in nature. In order to tame this natural potential of man, arms must be employed. Written laws are of no use with the occurrence of this anarchy. A leader must dominate, rather than be dominated. Fear of punishment forces people to bow down to the law, which in this case, is characterized by the coercion of arms. Thomas Hobbes agrees that it is authority that makes a law. However, for him, it is the acknowledgment of a social contract, and not the employment of arms, that imposes fear on man. A Leviathan is a state with authority far greater than any man’s selfish nature. Hobbesian thought suggests that the ratification of a law without the consultation of parties involved upholds no justice at all. Baron de Montesquieu, theorizes on the division and separation of power into three layers: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. There is no reason for these three to clash for each body is assigned to a unique responsibility. He agrees with the famous maxim which states that, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Since power is divided, there shall be no monopoly, nor authoritarian.
Each theorist provides a significance on beliefs regarding man and state. Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas all believe in the natural goodness of man while Machiavelli, Hobbes and Montesquieu believe otherwise. For them, man is naturally selfish. Every person may be born with a pure heart, but growing into a society which is engrossed with everything but the truth may influence him into becoming otherwise. Children learn through what they see, hear, in their primary environment, that which is the family. If his parents constantly argue in his presence, he may grow with anger. If his siblings constanly cuss in his presence, he may also grow with the habit. Having messed-up families may result in having a messed-up society since it is its primary unit. In light of the Philippines’ situation today, I strongly confide that a firm and rigid system of governance would be of great help. If the Machiavellian approach would be married to the Hobbesian thought, that would be the most efficient administration in my opinion. Let us take Rodrigo Duterte, the 22-year mayor of the third safest city in the world, Davao, for example. Whenever he would kill someone for the price of that man’s crime, he would not be legally ensued for a social contract has already been attested to. I am fully aware that no one has the right to take another’s life, whatever the circumstance may be. Weighing lives might also be a crime in the eyes of our creator. However, as a lowly person whose existence is negligible and whose opinion is insignificant, I would personally take the greater good over any individual’s any day. If the loss of one life could bring security and peace for the rest who continue to live on, then I would gladly conform with the idea.
BY: PINILI, JUNE KATHERINE E.