What are Thomas Hobbes's strengths? What can we admire from his philosophy of giving everything to a ruler?

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Perhaps the most admirable elements of Hobbes's political philosophy are not his solutions but his analyses of problems. Rather than basing his beliefs in metaphysical speculation, he sees political systems as grounded in material realities. He attempts to argue for the evolution of political systems based on how they evolved historically, although at times he relies on preconceptions about historical events, as he did not have access to the textual and archaeological research conducted after his death.

He argues that humans in a state of nature live in circumstances of constant conflict and insecurity. He thus hypothesizes that groups cede most of their freedoms to a strong leader in exchange for peace and security. Looking around at the religious wars fracturing Europe in his period, he argues for absolute monarchy as a solution. Perhaps the best part of this argument is that it explains how people psychologically come to accept authoritarian rule and "strongman" leadership through fear and insecurity even when this runs counter to their own best interests.

More recent scientific studies do not support Hobbes' extreme pessimism about human nature and early humanity. A less despotic form of social contract found in liberal democracies can establish rule of law without authoritarianism. Thus, while it is possible to admire Hobbes's efforts to understand the evolution of political systems, readers should also be aware that many of his historical assumptions are inaccurate and that his recommendation of authoritarian despotism is a flaw in his work rather than something to be admired.

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