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Hobbes and Absolute Sovereignty

A state is sovereign when its magistrate owes allegiance to no superior power, and he or she is supreme within the legal order of the state. It may be assumed that in every human society where there is a system of law there is also to be found, latent beneath the variety of political forms, in a democracy as much as in a absolute monarchy, a simple relationship between subjects rendering habitual obedience, and a sovereign who renders obedience to none. This vertical structure, of sovereign and subjects is analogous to the backbone of a man. The structure constitutes an essential part of any human society, which possesses a system of law, as the backbone comprises an essential part of the man.Where this structure is present, one may legitimately speak of human society, together with its sovereign, as a single independent state, and one may also speak of its law. Where this structure is absent, one cannot legitimately apply those expressions, because the relation of the sovereign to the subjects constitute, part of the very meaning of those expressions .Hobbes expressed a clear personal confidence in his position, and some would consider him to be the author or originator of an authentic political science. It was in De Cive, published in 1647, that he made a claim to have discovered a way of rationalizing enquiry into political behavior, and that he had also created a new science- a science of politics. Hobbes began his study of civil government by investigating its central subject, the human being as a natural and social animal, and then proceeded to define its origin, generation and form. It seemed to him that everything is to be understood by its constitutive causes. The mechanical analogy, challenging the traditional organic and theological concepts of the state, became for Hobbes both relevant and inevitable. Civic conflict was leading to desegregation of the contemporary 17th century English state, demonstrating to him that th...

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