Socrates vs Hobbes

It is better to mention that Socrates is a philosopher and jurist that lived, while Thomas Hobbes lived between (1588-1679). Both jurist lived on the different era and time line and both of them are exposed to different kinds of legal system and philosophy It is justifiable to say that both of the jurists have different opinion of theories on their own on the aspect of the Law, how and why the law come into being. However, an analysis of their theories of law shows that there are similarities between their theories, It is important to note that although they are separated by time, some of their ideas are alike.

Some of the similarities are the theory of obligation to obey the law. Socrates contended that the people have an obligation to obey the law, not because from the encouragement to avoid punishment, but the obligation came from a social contractl‘.

This social contract from Socrates’s theory basically said that, the people had made a promise that they will be protected, nourished and nurtured well and in return there must be a duty to obey all the orders and rules of the State.

Z In the Crito, Socrates said that the Law told him that he is obliged to follow the law because the State had provided him with all the necessities like education, shelter and hygienic environment and order, and this is a social contract where, the State had fulfill its obligation and therefore, Socrates must fulfill his obligation to fully obey what the State wants him to do, Quoting the Crito: “mSocrates, did we agree on this, we and you, to honor the decisions that the city makes?” And if we were surprised to hear them say this, perhaps they would say, ”Socrates, don’t be surprised at what we’re saying but answer, since you are used in questioning and answering Come then, what reason can you give us and the city for trying to destroy us?

Did we not, to begin with, give birth to youPAnd wasn’t it through us that your father married your mother and conceived you? So show those of us, the laws concerning marriages, what faultyou find that keeps them from being goodls” According to Socrates, he got scolded by the Law like a father scolding his child, his treatment to the law, shows the example of a social contract that obligates everyone to obey the law, He also said that if he were to disobey the law it would be destroying the State, by dishonoring the sanctity of the law, This is one of the reasons that Socrates refused to escape from punishment even though he had a chance to do so Quoting the Crito: “mSo intently did you choose us and agree to be governed by us that, in particular, because the city was satisfactory to you, you had children in it.

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Moreover, at your trial you could have proposed exile, ifyou had wished, and what you’re now trying to do to the city without her consent, you could have done then with her consent.

At the time, you prided yourself on not being angry if you had to die, and you chose death, you said, in preference to exile. But now you neither feel shame in the face of those words nor have you any respect for us the laws By trying to destroy us you are doing what the most despicable slave would do, trying to run away contrary to the contract and the agreement by which you agreed to be governed by usin” As for Thomas Hobbes theory, his theory also consist of social contract that produced a duty or obligation to obey the law, Just like with Socrates’ theory, in Thomas Hobbes’ theory, the people owed the duty to the State or the sovereign that runs the State, He claimed that the State provides protection to the people against the State of Nature, The concept of State of Nature, means the real nature of the world where there is no order only chaos and disorder it is a life of violence and brutishness.

This is the kind of situations where humans would get harm or in the worst case scenario, be killed by the State of Nature, Since the sovereign shelters the people from the State of Nature and provides civilized community to avoid the State of Nature or the evil. The people in order to maintain the order shottld work together and absolutely surrender all of the rights and freedom in favor of subjecting themselves to the orders and rules of the sovereign by respecting the absolute right of the sovereign,4 As we can see, both jurists in their theories talks about the social contract that bounds the people of the State to the laws of the State, and how there is an agreement on the people, where obeying the law would be fulfilling their part of the deal. Although there are similarities on the theories, however there are some differences on the theories In Socrates’ theory, the obligation to obey the law is based on the concept where the State is seen as a paternal figure to the community, like a father figure, the State had provided the people with all the necessities since their young until they are grown up.

In Socrates’ theory the people obeys the laws of the State out of gratitude for all that the State had provided. Socrates said that the obedience to the State is as if the obedience of a child to the father and should the State scolded the citizen, like a father scolding his child, the child should not fight back and accept the punishment given. He also stated that should the State asked the citizen to go to war, the citizen should go fight the war for the State However, in the Crito, Socrates maintains that the obedience of the law is not absolute as he claimed that if the citizen is not happy with the law, he should leave the State In contrast with Socrates’ theory, Thomas Hobbes’ theory is based on the concept of pactum subjectionisr In this theory, the obedience to the sovereign is not based on gratitude to the State or sovereign, According to Thomas Hobbes, mankind are a self—centered being and only care about own preservationr.

When faced with the State of Nature, mankind are forced to let go this attitude and work together to collectively protect their life, property and interests by voluntarily reached into an agreement among themselves in a contract of association. This is when the people agreed among themselves that they will work together to avoid the State of Nature in their community by abiding to certain guild lines to behave in a civilized matterr 7 However,this is not sufficiently efficient to make sure the people abide by the guild lines. There is a need for a authority dedicated to enforce those guild lines among the people to ensure order, peace and civilized environment. This is where puclum subjectionis comes in, where the community of people agreed subject themselves to a third party with supervision authority and the people must absolutely subject themselves to the authority of the appointed authority, in Hobbes’s theory the authority is the sovereign of the StaterE This shows that the social contract in

Thomas Hobbes’ theory is between the people, as the contract is among the citizens of the State and the State or sovereign is just a third party to the contract, appointed to supervise them, Unlike Socrates’s theory where if the people do not like the law of the State, they should persuade the State to change their mind, Thomas Hobbes’ position is that there should be an absolute obedienceg In conclusion, both jurists have similarities on their theories and of course differences, both of the jurists theory is based on social contract which imposes an obligation on the people to obey the law of the State/sovereign. However, the type of social contact between the theories are different

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Socrates vs Hobbes. (2022, Dec 16). Retrieved from

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