God and political power

Philosophical concepts and Beliefs. Religion's Toleration. Copernicus. Descartes. Divine creation. Locke

  • Enviado por: Carlos Vázquez
  • Idioma: inglés
  • País: España España
  • 12 páginas

Until Copernicus and the change of paradigms, everything was based in the Aristotelian-Christian paradigm. This paradigm is based in the Aristotle's achievements in which the Earth was supposed to be the center of the universe, and the sun, the starts, and all the Planets were moving around the earth. The universe was believed to be a closed world. Aristotle sustained that different objects were made from different sort of matter, and that answered why some objects felt to the earth while some others objects as the sun, the stars, and the planets seemed to be weightless. This paradigm was tied to the Christian religion, even the heaven was said to be made from pure materials because it was the angel's Home. The life was divided into tree basics hierarchies. In the top, of course, there was God, followed by the celestials, and then, the terrestrials. The terrestrials were also divided in categories having the males as the most important, then, the females, and at last, the children. This paradigm was also tied with the absolutism, in which the king was “chosen by God”, and enjoyed of absolute power over everything and everybody that was in his lands.

James I, king of England (r1603-1625), was a clear example of absolutism. In “True Law of Free Monarchies”, he explains the way absolute monarchs governed. Reading this book, we can deduce that the parliament did not have any power at all by itself, the King was totally free to change the laws without the consent of anybody, and the king was above the law.

Jacque Berngine Bosssue (1627-1704) was also in favor of the absolute monarch. In his

book, “Politics Drawn for Holly Scriptures”, he marks that the Kings are God's ministers

in earth, and he points the hereditary monarchy as “the most natural and the most doable

form”, (Documents, 90). He also says in his book how religion and even our conscience tell us that we have the obligation to obey the king.

Another clear defender of the absolute state was Robert Filmer, how in his book “A

Defense of the Natural Powers of the Kings Against the Unnatural Liberty of the People”

sees the absolutism as the only safe way of government he attacks the ideal of freedom

and liberty because, he thinks, it contradicts the Holy Scriptures and even the principles

of the law nature. He sees the king's power as a power that is given by God, therefore,

there is no law made by humans capable to limit the King's power, Robert Filmer, also

compares the King “with the father of that governs by not other law that his own will”, (Documents, 93). And he justifies that by saying that “Every father is bound by the law of nature to do his best for the representation of his family. But much more is a King always tied by the same law of nature to keep this general ground, that safety of his kingdom be his chief law”, (Documents 92). He also supports that the King may change the general laws made by the parliament as he wises. By his written, we can deduce that Robert Filmer is confident that all the Kings will do their best to preserve their lands and their subjects in harmony because, they are like fathers for their servants.

An opposite point of view is without a doubt the point of view that Joseph II, King of

Austria, (r1780-1790) had. He was part of the “Enlightened“. He provided his nation with

constitutional principles and laws of toleration. He proclaimed freedom to choose religion

“No longer will anyone be singled out for oppression because of his belief, in the future it

will not be necessary for anyone to adhere to the religion of the estate against his

conviction, or if he has a different understanding of the salvation”, (Documents, 93). He condemned the intolerance and saw the new thought of the Enlightened based on philosophy as the progress of the human spirit. In a letter in which he answered the petition of a noble woman that wanted Joseph II to give her soon the rank of General just because her soon was noble, he writes that “A monarch's obligations is far from including the notion that it should grant an office to one of my subjects simply because he is of noble birth”, (Documents, 94). We can see the big difference of governing if we compare the way Joseph 2 reigned with the way that, for example, James 1, and most of this time's Kings did. Also we can notice that Joseph's thought's were totally revolutionary for its time. He was one of the key persons that helped to change the way that the world was ruled.

The big change of paradigms was brought by the polish Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). He studied Philosophy, Law, Astronomy, and mathematics. He got by the Pope, the task to reform the Julian calendar because it was not exact .When he was checking the calendar, he did not see anything wrong with it, every single calculation seemed to be perfect and there was not any apparent reason why it should not work. Then, and after many investigations, he began to realize that the calendar was not the problem, the problem was the paradigm in which the calendar was based. Copernicus deduced then after many studies something that was against all previous theories: The earth was not the center of the universe, the center of the universe was the sun, and every planet, including the earth, orbit around it. At this point, with the Copernicus new's discover, everything was questioned, and, this, somehow leaded a new way of thought in which aspects of the men's role, Christian religion, and the way of govern by the Kings was asked. Of course, the fist opponent to this new paradigm was the Church, who had been quite comfortable with the Aristotelan paradigm which matched perfectly with the Holly scripture, something that the new paradigm did not seemed to do.

To assimilate the Copernicus paradigm was not a easy task. There was a time that nothing seemed to make sense and nothing was clear. This is easy to see in the John Donne's poem “An Anatomy of the world”, poem in which a clear feeling of insecurity is reflected:

“And a new Philosophy calls all in doubt'

The element is quite pout out;

The sunne is lost, and th' earth, and no mans wit

Can well direct him, where to looke for it.”

And Freely men confesse, that this world's spent,

When the planets and the Firmament”, (Documents, 156).

In this part of the John Donne's poem, we can realize that it is not easy to quit thinking what seems right ( the earth as a center of the universe and all the planets orbiting around it ) to begin thinking something that does not seem to make any sense ( the sun as the center of the universe ). The fact of having to re-think everything, was the detonate of a new generation of philosophers who had to question everything without having anything any solid base.

The Frenchman Rene Descartes (1596-1650), was born in this time of disorder. When he had age enough, he decide to look for the answers to his philosophical questions by himself instead of in the books. He was one of the fist persons that seemed to have some answers to the crisis that all the new discovers had brought. Rene Descartes believed in the human capacity to understand all the challenger misterys and have control over the nature. As mathematical that he was, he saw the universe as a mechanical system, and this mechanical system could be understood by using mathematical thinking. Descartes sees God as a guardador of knowledge, and the human thought as a toll with which everything can be understood, this point is settled in the Descartes famous claim “I think, therefore I am”, from his book Discourse on method, in which Descartes invite to his lectors to use their reason to answer all the questions of life. Descartes had the particular view that humans are attached to the world but can look at it with objectivity. But besides all his achievements he still without find answers to many issues, and here is when urge the necessity to believe in something that is also impossible to understand; God, because eventhoug Descartes seems to have “atheism” ideas, he had a profound faith in God.

Another philosopher that considered God as the divine creator was one of the key men in the settle of the new paradigm. It was Isaac Newton, (1642-1624).Born in England, Newton gave responses to many questions with his theories. His supreme achievement was the law of gravitation, in which he explains that “Everybody in the universe exerts over every other body an attractive force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them”, (Noble, 724). He also developed the concept of inertia in which he explains that if a planet is pushed in the universe, it would keep moving forever unless it were stooped by any other object. By combining these theories plus the planetary motion all together, Newton seems to unite heaven and earth in a single scheme making a feeling of orderly nature.

With this change of paradigm, there were many philosophers that began thinking in freedom and in a state ruled by the general will. John Locke and Adam smith are a clear example of this new type of governing. The British John Locke (1632-1704), shows his particular view of the government in his most known book “Two teatrises in the government”. Locke seems to have an optimistic view of the human nature, and sees the human beings totally capable to establish laws that will defend their natural rights of life, their liberty, and their property. He therefore, does not agree with the idea of having a king with total power over his nation. In stead he views the nations as governed by the general will of all the people, in which no law is made for the benefit on anybody. He sees revolutions sometimes necessaries “Wen laws have not been made properly or there are mistakes in the ruling part”, (Sources, 59). But he defends that is better to live in a nation governed by the general will that has problems sometimes that to live in a nation governed by tyranny. This view of nation governed is also advocated by Adam smith who shared Locke's view of the men freedom. Adam Smith was also optimist about the human kind, his most important achievement are in the economic flied. He defended the idea of a free market among countries, something impossible with the protectionism government's mercantilism policy of his time. In his book “An inquiry into the nature and laws of the wealth of the nations”, he explains the political economy as an international system, and the economic cooperation as a source of peace. He thought that the economy should regulate itself, without the interference of any other economic privileges.

A clear contrast to Locker's and Smith's thoughts is the Thomas Hobbes's thought. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) born in England, had a pessimist view of the human nature. He saw the man as a selfish, and only guided by his own interest rather that for the community interest. Under this point of view, he sees the king's absolute power over the nation as the only alternative for a safe nation. He could not conceive the Adam Smith's or Locke's view. He supported that if everybody were free to do everything without the severe control of an absolutist king, then the nation would go to the chaos, this is clearly explained in his maximums achiever “Leviathan”: “If the were not power erected or no agent enough for our security, every man will and may lawfully rely on his owns strength and art, for caution against all other man”, (Sources, 26).

It was not ware for this time of new thoughts that the woman began to revindicate hers rights, this is the case of Marry Astell and Mary Wollstonecraft. Marry Astell (1666-1731), from England, critizated in her book “Some Reflections in the Marriage” that the people thought about the woman as something “useless”. Mary Wolstonecraft, was a key woman for her time when she wrote “The Vindication for the Right of the Woman”, just sometime after of the “Declaration of the Rights of the Man”, after the French revolution. Mary Wolstonecraft was a noble woman, she assumed that most of the elite women should devote to their marriage, but she reivindicated the responsavilites and the right of the education of the woman, in order that the woman would be able to be fully formed and to take care of her family and to rise adecually to her children.

Another Known woman not only because her feminism thoughts, but also because her apportions to the new world view was Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (1627-1723). She believed as Descartes in the capacity of the human thought to solve every kind of mystery. She wrote a lot of major philosophical books as “Grounds of Natural Philosophy”. She also reivindicated the role of the woman in the society. In her book “The Philosophical and Physical Opinions”, she criticized that the woman seemed to be limited because they were not allowed to get education.

The French revolution, was without a doubt, a significant change in the creation of the new world view. It was like the last big brick that completes the structure of this new world view. All the new liberal thoughts of the philosophers an especially the Locker's thought, are clearly reflected in the “Declaration of the Rights of the Citizens”. This declaration considers that the ignorance, neglect, or the privation of the rights of the quitrents are the cause of the misfortunes of the citizens and the cause of the corruption. The main point of the laws settle in the declaration are. First the right of liberty for everybody, without any kind of distinction. “Men are born, and always continue, free, and equal in respect of their rights. Civil distinctions, therefore, can be found only on public utility”, (Sources, 90). The declaration also makes sure that all the laws are for the good of the community and not for the benefit of a few, treating everybody in the same way “The law is an expression of the will of the community. All the citizens have the right to concur, either personally, or by their representatives, in its formation”, (Sources, 90). The declaration also provides of freedom of different opinions, the communication of these opinions, such as in the press, is consider as well as a right in this declaration. The declaration considers that all these rights have to be defended by a public force which has to be instituted for the benefit of the community, and never for the interest of a few.

All of these laws, reflect the desire of a new type of life, and a new kind of treat to everybody, something that France had been wanted for a long time, and something that would not have been possible without the new thoughts brought for many philosophers as a Descartes or Locke. Philosophers, that began thinking differently about human nature and about society as a consequence of a time in which everything was unclear , a time that was create by the sudden change of paradigms. So, we can see the change of paradigms as a clear detonate of the change of the society that begins in the French revolution, and that has been in develop until the present.

Thomas Kuhn explains that all kind of science are based in paradigms, these paradigms are models to solve problems and answer questions that are constantly made by the sciences. Therefore, these paradigms are like standard guides to solve the problems that the science may have. But for time to time, there begin to be anomalies that the paradigm does not seems to be able to solve, then, effectiveness of the paradigm is beginning to be questioned. Thomas Kuhn describes this moment as a “crisis”, he explains that in this moment, a change of paradigms is unavoidable , not because the new paradigm seems to answer the questions better than the old one, the change of paradigms, he says, occurs simply because the new paradigm is able to answer questions that the old one is totally unable to answer, and this new paradigm brings new ways to look at the things.

Thomas Kuhn sustains that two different sciences based in different paradigm are impossible to compare, he also says that the sciences are “noncumulative”, because the questions that one paradigm answers may be totally different, have different importance, or simply they do not have any importance in other paradigm.

Looking at the drawn of the next page, we can understand why two different paradigms are impossible to compare with each other and why sciences are “noncumulative”. In this drawn, we can see either a rabbit or a duck, but we can never see both animals at the same time, this is exactly what happens with two different paradigm, we can follow one or other specific paradigm, but, we can never follow two different paradigm, because they are incompatibles. Therefore, a science can only be based in one paradigm, never a science can be based in two different paradigms.

The new- world view