STATE AND MAN

 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.

Prominent Men & Their Concepts of the Ideal Society by Aizel Duyongan

Plato:

In his theory, I agree for the Guardians to rule. Life is full of complex diversities. And it is in these diversities that philosophers find their calling. They are “morally fit and intellectually upright”. These can coincide with his another statement of the guardian class not living the life of luxury. The guardian class, knows the balance of life. As their main vocation, they will do what is expected of them. They will rule, with great fervor for the state. It is for the upbringing of a united nation that they will serve their utmost. No malice and no hidden agenda. Only for the good of the state that they fulfil their job and this is what Plato sees as the perfect state.

Aristotle:

Man who is governed by law is a real man. He who is not must be a beast. For man is intelligent and knows the difference between right and wrong.

For a state to attain their highest point, they need to unify their citizens. Unity starts in the family. There are two ways to form the state. The union of man and woman. And the master slave relationship. For Aristotle, man is distinguished between master and slave through their physical capabilities. Some are born to lead and some are born to follow. There’s no discrimination between. Both parties must respect each other and know their limits.

Plato believes in the rule of the many. However, Aristotle believes in the rule of the few. Only the qualified personas, men and women can govern the state.

St. Thomas:

His theory states that the state must be governed by a divine reason. The state is an inclination to God.

Man is a social being. He cannot survive without the help of others. Either a beast or a god can do so. Man is created to be united with other men. Family is the basic social unit of life. Unity is needed to form Aristotle’s idea of a perfect state. God gave the animals all they needed. They have easy access to their basic needs. Why is it that man has to exert an effort? He needs others to help him.

St. Thomas says that a true leader is in line with his followers. He therefore used the analogy of the body and its soul. A soul without its body is nothing, so is a soul without its body.

Summing it all up, God is involved in the governs of a state and everything is with divine reason.

Niccolo Machiavelli:

Niccolo Machiavelli’s theory is an interesting one.One that could either result in utter chaos or complete order. According to him, a state should be governed by force. Enforcing fear into people can result to submission and therefore makes the leader a tyrant.

But, somehow, I agree to his perspective. There were leaders before that practiced this but their priority was the people. I think, it just takes the right kind of person to rule.

The people who can’t see the advantage of this kind of government are ignorant. Take the case of Marcos.

Thomas Hobbes:

Our selfish desires can destroy the state and this is what Hobbes is concerned of.

He gave an option, which is to give our complete submission to a sovereign or if not, we’ll arrive at what he calls “state of nature”. State of nature is comparable to a civil war. A war that is a result of man’s selfishness.

Hobbes proposes the “Leviathan”. Leviathan is a body politic. It portrays a gigantic human form built out of the citizens with the leader as the head.

Hobbes got this concept from the bible, Leviathan is Hebrew for sea monster.

Baron Montesquieu:

In his concept, the powers of the government is divided into three.

The executive, legislative, and the judicial.

The executive makes the law, the legislative executes the law, and the judicial interprets the law.

He sees the advantage because the powers are separated. Less tyranny. Several states have adopted this type of government.

So far, his idea is proven effective and remarkable.

Opinion to the Different Theories of State

Plato’s ideal state

Plato’s concept about the government or state is true but too ideal that it may not be attainable under current or obtaining situations. Good leaders must be philosophers who are morally upright and intellectually fit pursuing the greater interest of the state over and above his own personal interest. This kind of philosopher leader is very rare and cannot be found among present crop of our political leaders . In our present state, leadership by dynasty is prevalent which implies the precedence of self and personal interest of ones family over and above the interest of the people. That entertainers or dramatists won’t make good leaders is born out by our sad experience with showbiz people as our leaders such as President Joseph Estrada, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and Senator Bong Revilla.

 

Aristotelian view of the state

Aristotle proposes that leadership shall not be confined to the Guardian philosopher class but should be open to any qualified person. Aristotle’s concept of leadership is based on his assumption that is natural for a master leader to abuse his authority given he, as political animal, should share and participate with others for the good of the state. This assumption, however, is not true in our present situation.   Aristotle’s concept of leadership is basically democracy or the rule of the many which has its own advantages as well as disadvantages. Its advantages hinges on the good intentions of the leaders. While it’s disadvantage is that the people would abuse the rights of their freedom. People these days are too accustomed to their given freedom to the extent that they would also abuse the rights given to them.

 

St. Thomas’ divine justification

“No man is an island” This quote means that each person has to work hand in hand with others as a community or as a group to attain a certain goal. No one can live alone and be successful. Just like St. Thomas’ theory, man is not an isolated individual who can attain his end simply as an individual by using his own individual reason. Although their is a common goal for the good of man by the state and the church, it is not really viable because the state had created laws which contradicts to the law of God. For example RH bill. For the state the purpose for this bill is for the good of the family let say family planning or contraceptives. Another example would be the legalization of divorce in some countries. I would have to disagree with this theory.

 

Niccolo Machiavelli theory

Machiavellan leadership is a very immoral type of leadership which brought me to disagreeing his theory. Machiavelli states that armed forces is needed in order to attain a good government and that he also thinks that fear is a virtue or rather must be a virtue. He uses the armed forces to stifle dissent. It is true that people need to be disciplined for their actions but it is not really ideal to kill people and use brutal force just to attain that perfect government. You can’t make people live in fear for the rest of their lives. People do have rights. Marcos is a glaring and perfect example of a machiavellan leader. He can afford to eliminate his critics and the opposition parties just to advance his own personal ambitions and interest. Despite being an intelligent and dominant leader, their were still a lot of protest by the people against his presidency which still lead to chaos in the country.

 

Thomas Hobbes’ social agreement

Hobbes says that someone must arbitrate in the making of agreement in order to prevent the endless war. That the state is not actually making the punishment on violators rather it is the parties involved who are willing for their own punishment. For me hobbes’ theory is effective at the same time moral. Their are no rights violated, except if one of the parties violate the contract, nor is their bloodshed involved. His theory is somehow more peaceful since it is the parties who decides whether or not they would sign the agreement or be committed with each other. With Hobbes’ social agreements and social contracts, people would have more support whenever someone violates these contracts and commitments signed. These contracts would secure the right of mutual protection and welfare and also to regulate relations from each other.

 

Baron de Montesquieu’s three layers of power

Baron de Montesquieu classifies the power of government into 3 layers: the legislative, the executive, and judicial power. With these 3 layers of power, our government has became more balanced and that government works are well distributed depending on which branch our officials are under. The president cannot do all the work alone without any help nor can implement any law he wants without going through these branches. Lets set the implementation of laws as an example. First, it must be enacted by the legislative power which is shall be agreed by the lower house(house of representatives) followed by the upper house(senators). It is then forwarded to the executive branch, which is the president, for its approval. Upon its approval the judicial branch shall determine whether or not the law is in the bounds of the constitution. I agree with montesquieu’s theory that not only one man shall be held reponsible for all government works but the state must be ruled by three independent yet inseparable power.

– ALUBEN, Anne Dominique A.

 

 

Agree? Or Disagree?

We all have different opinions in terms of running the state. Whether to use force, popularity or influence of people. There are theories explaining it’s govern process, there were a lot…but in my opinion, there is always that one imperfectly perfect theory that seems to dominate all other theories respectively, and these are my reactions towards these theories:

Plato’s theory:

“As a state arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants.”

Disagree. I find Plato’s theory both convincing and true. Not because ideally, if a man would want to serve the people, he must succumb himself to the people and not by selfish means. And it could regulate unbiased decisions and equal justice. However, one factor that makes it imperfect is that the concept of ‘RULE OF THE FEW’ could still have flaws. Take for example when the rule of the few becomes abusive and tyrannical…what could be the consequence? What would the citizens do if the “rule of the few” is the only one capable of change? The people would seem useless and their voices would not be heard throughout the government years. If oligarchs rule, there is no distinct fact we could say that the state will actually become progressive, but I completely understand Plato’s statement that to lead the people, you have to ‘be the people’. We are all different in a way, in a silent fact, one would always want power.

Aristotle’s theory:

“Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives without law, and without justice.”

Disagree. Even though it is on opposite terms with Plato’s, Aristotle’s theory has a hole. Owning private properties would not determine anything…if we base it on the Philippines’ kind of government, it doesn’t work by Aristotle’s theory considering the endless issues of politicians owning huge quantities of lands and the list goes on and on. The only thing I agree in this theory is of the master-slave relationship. To me, it is an example of what democracy is. It is not the leaders who are the masters, it is the people…if election comes, and the slave would try to persuade the master into choosing him or her to be appointed as the head, and serve the master truthfully, and help the master progress until the time comes to choose another slave to help the master.

St. Thomas’ theory:

“How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God.”

Disagree. As a country with 90% Christians, we cannot say ‘WE ARE ONE’, because even if there would be a few, there would still be disputes, misconceptions, arguments and questions that would lead to a debate. We say that we are all fighting for one God, but it’s not that fact. We all believe in God, however, there is still the presence of atheists. (Not saying atheists are wrong, just a matter of contradiction) Loving one God isn’t wrong, but what I am saying is…it is not enough because we all have a choice. We are all not the same but we all think the same way whether poor or rich…we want to prosper and good leadership and God should, we should not just rely on God but help ourselves too to attain that balance.

Niccolo Macchiavelli’s theory:

“Politics have no relation to morals.”

Disagree. Our country for instance is facing a huge problem concerning the safety of the people as well as self-discipline. If we do not use ‘Armed Forces’ as a sign of authority, then the people will more likely to not fear the authority itself, and nothing will change. And the matter would worsen by every second we do not do anything; however, there is still a loophole to this seemingly perfect theory. Take for example, you are one of the criminals; you committed a mistake but you are willing to change sincerely, but what if the punishment would be death? And as it is stated by the law, a ‘death sentence’ is your punishment. As a human being, don’t we need to have a 2nd chance for change? Don’t we have the right to still live like a newborn person? Because in my opinion, everyone can change and it is not right to punish a person by just one mistake, we still have human rights by the way. And as humans, we have the right.

Thomas Hobbes’ theory:

“”It is not wisdom but authority that makes the law.”

Agree. Thomas Hobbes is considered a perfect theory. In which all seems fair and justice is served. Pure violence is not good, and so is pure democracy. An agreement is sufficient to avoid questionings and debates. Whatever agreement the party involves, in whatever terms, when broken could be used against the both of them. And they cannot escape, since there is a document proving its worth. It could be an agreement between the rich or poor, master or slaves, animals or people, and even as a pact. If there is an agreement, both parties are in good terms and it is maintained to be sealed and protected as a part of right. Wisdom, in my opinion is not enough to run the society but authority. The agreement would become the basis of living and if people live by these agreements, then there is no question, that we would be disciplined and become a proper state we could be proud of. Then we could actually say that we have a balanced and unbiased state.

Baron De Montesquieu’s theory:

“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.”

Disagree. In terms of equal leadership, yes it is quite good. But this kind of theory has a lot of faults to begin with. If independency of ‘the 3 Spirit of the laws’, then that would mean corruption can penetrate everywhere considering that these 3 (mainly legislative, executive and judiciary) cannot intercross. It would mean that the state could fall into a deep hole of trouble wherein no one could be trusted if we appoint the wrong people. A country without trust is no country at all, and the people who would more likely to be pitiful is no more likely than us. And it is directly connected to monopoly, which I consider an enemy to society.

-MAINIT, MARY CAMILLE C.