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    Hobbes, Rousseau, and Thelma and Louise

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    Unit 7 Paper:
    Thelma and Louise.

    The theme for your third paper, due in Unit 7 is "Social and Moral Policies of Government." You will choose to view the movie Grapes of Wrath, the movie Thelma and Louise, or another movie that has been approved by your instructor. You will then interpret the movie and relate one of two of the movie's characters to the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau.

    You will relate your character selections to the following:
    - Thomas Hobbes and his theory of the state of nature and government as an artificial creation.
    - Jean Jacques Rousseau and government and society as the inhibitors of our natural freedoms.

    Thomas Hobbes

    Thomas Hobbes lived from 1588 to 1679 and his best-known work is called Leviathan. The word Leviathan means an artificially created animal. For example, in older English translations a leviathan was created to swallow Jonah. It was not a whale which is part of the natural world. The leviathan was a specific creature created by God for a specific purpose. And so it is with government: Hobbes did not think the government was part of the natural world. It had to be a leviathan created by men: that is, the government is the artificial creation that allows men to live the Good Life.

    Thus, for Hobbes, government and society are not institutions existing naturally in nature. Hobbes believed that government is the artificial creation by man to protect us from each other. In other words, we are savage and predatory by nature and a strong central government is the only guarantee of peace and security and, thus, the Good Life.

    He felt that we all live in a state of nature that was a war of all against all. As a result, men appointed the strongest among them to be a king and to enforce peace and safety at all costs.

    Hobbes is also known as the father of totalitarianism in that he believed in a strong central government with enforcement powers. Thus, for Hobbes, censorship is good, rules are good, behavior is watched, punishment applied and peace is ensured. Government is the solution and the Good Life is ensured.

    In your character selection, analyze the relationship between government and its citizens. How do you think the social theory of Hobbes has both a positive and a negative influence on the lives of your characters?

    Jean Jacques Rousseau

    Jean Jacques Rousseau lived from 1712 to 1778 A.D. He was a French philosopher of the Enlightenment period. One of his most famous quotes is, "Man is free; and everywhere he is in chains" (Rousseau, 1762).

    His theory of government, along with Hobbes, is referred to as the "Social Contract Theory." Meaning: There is an implicit contract between the citizens of the state and the State itself. Note: The contract can be broken and a new one instituted. Thus, the attainment of the Good Life is entirely in our control and it is our responsibility to create a government leading to its attainment.

    For Rousseau, and in opposition to Hobbes, government and society are the problem. In his view, governments create artificial rules and regulations that hinder man's free, natural, and uninhibited moral development. And, when government stands in the way, the social contract should be broken and new one agreed upon.

    In your character selection, consider what social obligations should bind and obligate citizens to the State. What is the responsibility of government to its citizens—and, what is the responsibility of individuals to their governments? How do your characters exhibit the Enlightenment philosophy of Rousseau?

    As you write your paper, consider the following questions:
    - How do your characters reflect the nature of government as the guarantor of peace and security?
    - How do your characters reflect the social obligation of government to its citizens?
    - How have your characters removed the chains of social convention and government imposition?

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    Solution Preview

    The characters of Thelma and Louise are representations of a Hobbesian state of nature. Hobbes makes clear that the absence of a political order results in a state of nature where security is completely absent: "...no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Consider the lives that Thelma and Louise experience once they participate in Harlan's killing. They live in "continual fear" and with the shadow of "violent death," in the form of imprisonment and, worse for Thelma, going ...

    Solution Summary

    Examining Hobbes and Rousseau in the film "Thelma and Louise." 461 words