Key Points presented by Philosophers in the 17th Century

Last Updated: 18 Jan 2021
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REALLY, should it not be the purpose of a government to work for the benefit of its subjects? The well-known American George Washington said that “the happiness of society,” that is, of the people, “is, or ought to be, the end [the objective] of all government.” Over the centuries, humankind has lived under hundreds of governments. None have truly satisfied the needs of all the people.

Whatever the complaints made, however, the fact remains that some sort of government is clearly better than no government at all. Without government there would be no order; it would be no less than mob rule. And if you have ever seen a mob in action you know what that would mean—for in a mob people take the opportunity to vent hatred, greed and viciousness, feeling that no one will identify them for punishment.

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However, despite of all the disappointments brought about by the human government to the society through the threads of history, philosophers from the olden times up until the present era still believes that the human society could not exist in an organized manner without the existence of a concrete government in authority. In this regard, it is thus essential for the present generation to know the vitality of the philosophies presented by the 17th up until the 21st century philosophers and how much important they are with regards to the political systems existing in the human society today

Among the well-known philosophers to be discussed herein are Rene Descartes, Karl Marx, Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, John Locke, Voltaire Candide, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Montesquieu. These philosophers are most likely agreeing on one theme with regards to their belief of the present situation of the human society and t\its need of having a government to rule over its concerns. In this regard, an analysis would be very beneficial to understand the theories and philosophies formulated by the people mentioned above.

The Philosophies

Rene Descartes believes that in many ways, the human society is in dire need of a government to rule over its activities. According to him, it is indeed naturally innate in humans that they are able to solve and face the challenges they are supposed to meet everyday. The fact that they are capable of speculating on the things that might happen through simple application of theories, humans are indeed capable of solving social issues they face. However, it is also evident in his philosophy that to be able to create the necessary solutions for certain problems, it is important for humans to attain guidance from a higher sort of authority. This is where a government enters the scenario, which is ought to give guidance to the society on how they are supposed to deal with the numerous problems that occur in the society every now and then.

Karl Marx on the other end refers to governments as a source of social strength. In his philosophy on the communist manifesto, he states that the idea of communism to produce socialism is an important factor in helping the human society to progress through their works. According to him, the factual effect of communism to many countries using the said type of government as a means of ruling the territories they organize. It is through this way of governance that the authorities are able to favor the abilities placed by the workers in contributing to the economy of the entire country.

Still regarding politics, Thomas Hobbes Leviathan states in his philosophy that men, when left alone are naturally lovers of violence. They are naturally involved in fights and chaos. However, an existing government designed to help the human generations deal with the conflicts they have against each other, then such conflicts are possible of being solved. The laws prepared and implicated by the human governments help so much in making it possible for the human society to be well organized thus giving humans the chance to control their emotions and reactions towards several conflicts that they are involved with.

John Locke on the other hand agrees with the idea of Thomas Hobbes. He believes that through the existence of empiricism, the human civilization would become more organized. He states in his philosophy that the main goal of every government is to establish a certain level of organization within the human society. Aside from this, it is indeed beneficial that the governments help the society to learn the needs and the essential factors contributed by law to the lives of the population of people making up the society. With this, cooperation between each subject within the territories ruled by the government could be established well.

John Locke further adds that in many ways, a human government is able to emphasize the need for each person to pursue what they believe is true. Certainly, through the existence of ‘tabula rasa’, which refers to the natural rights of humans, the governments are able to deal with the problems caused by the social conflicts in a better and organized manner.

Voltaire Candide meanwhile talks about the utopia of the human generation. According to him, the regular exercise of humans of their right to speak of their minds helps in making a better government. The ability of humans to speak out their minds and the rights that are connected with it constantly helps in making more reliable and practical laws and regulations for the society. Certainly, the constant practice of this right is believed by Candide to be a key source to social development.

Jean Jacques Rousseau of the philosophy on Social Contract on the other hand makes a clear point in stating that humans are naturally good, however, because of the government and the environment around them, they become rude and are influenced to do otherwise than what is accepted good. To him, government is a factor of the society that must be constantly controlled by the people since the people placed the government in authority. To him, the exercise of democracy is the key factor to social success.

Regarding the existence of a democratic government, Montesquieu agrees that the present systems used by the European governments, having been able to divide the rulership or authoritative power into three major sectors is among the most progressive innovation there ever was in the human government. In this regard, it is thus expected to be effective enough in leading the human civilization to a progressive future.


A peaceful, prosperous and happy world that is what people everywhere long for. Not just humility, but reality and honesty oblige us to admit that it is because all men are imperfect that they are not capable of dealing with the necessary needs of having a true reliable government. The fault lies, not just with those who rule, but also with those who are ruled. True, Instant communication and fast transportation have “shrunk” the size of the world, so that there is an interlocking of interests, and no nation can be an isolated, totally independent unit. What happens in one place affects people everywhere else.

Governments can make some minor moves to adjust matters and make conditions a little better for the people. However, such help proves to be only superficial and temporary. As the philosophers discussed in this paper states, the existence of a fine government lies upon the capability of the people to cooperate and be in submission to the laws created by the authorities to attain a social Utopia.


Steven M. Cahn. (1998). Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy.

Oxford University Press, USA.

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Key Points presented by Philosophers in the 17th Century. (2017, Mar 01). Retrieved from

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