Individual's Responsibility in the State

In: Social Issues

Submitted By atmowwow
Words 387
Pages 2
The individual exists only to serve the state, according to Lycurgus. However for Hobbes, the state only exists to serve the needs of the individual. Hobbes argues the individual’s greatest need is for self-preservation, which he calls the Law of Nature. This equality of condition promotes competition for increasing power, pitting one man against the other. Men are in constant danger of being in this “war against all”(Hobbes xiii.8). This state of nature is unstable, making it necessary for government to impose order for the good of the individual. The government is established as an instrument to guarantee peace and security from the threats of men against one another. Yet Lycurgus insists the individual is subordinate to the nobility of the state. In ancient Sparta, the nobility of the city-state was defined by the sheer strength of its military prowess. Individuality is stamped out in an effort to promote this goal. Hobbes suggests that there should be a social contract where individuals authorize a sovereign to insure their self-preservation. The individual creates this social contract, “every man to every man,”(Hobbes xiii.8) which authorizes the sovereign to represent their interests. Therefore the sovereign must have absolute power to make and enforce all laws, punish the unjust, and dismiss any subordinates. The powers of government are concentrated upon a sovereign, not divided among branches. If the sovereign is providing peace and security, he must therefore be obeyed. To achieve the state’s nobility, Lycurgus eliminates all institutions within society which promote individualism. He takes a radical approach eliminating the family unit entirely. Women are segregated, where their role is simply to be impregnated by Sparta’s men. At a young age, children are raised in military barracks because “Lycurgus did not regard sons as the peculiar property of…...

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