Socio-Philosophical Writings of the Modern Period
Keywords: utopias, Machiavellianism, social contract, essays, Volkgeist
A unique topic of Renaissance and modern thinking is the question of an ideal social organization. An interest in optimal state establishment or the classification of governments can also be found in ancient philosophy, however, in the modern period the question of understanding our sociability and the way it should be organised became one of the key topics of thinking.
The reason for this might be best expressed in Hobbes’ reflection, On the Citizen. Hobbes noticed that if we truly were zoon politikon (sociable by nature), there would likely be no antisocial or non-altruistic signs of behaviour. If our sociability is rooted directly in our essence, we should love everybody equally and we should not commit offenses against them (Hobbes 2003, 22 – 24). However, it is not like this. What then is the cause of our sociability? Hobbes believes this can be observed ← 49 | 50 → through the reasons why, how, and when we seek the company of others. In the majority of cases, our sociability depends on the benefits we gain from the given society or relation. The benefits need not be immediate and material; these can also be finer aspects of our existence, such as feeling safe, pleasant emotions and friendship as trust or reputation. However, according to Hobbes, sociability is always something which improves our own existence; therefore, sociability is in fact an instrument of better living.
Yet, Hobbes was not the first to reflect...
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