Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 29
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Hobbes advocates letting the people elect a sovereign instead of one person appointing
themselves as ruler or sovereign. Piotr Hoffman writes:
the Hobbesian individual-every Hobbesian individual-understands himself as good
enough (and certainly better than anyone else) to exercise rule over himself. This,
however, is not the decisive argument, since the individual's self-confidence concerning
his ability and right to rule himself might still be based on an illusory, false appraisal of
his powers. (8)
In other words, a person might base their abilities on a biased and false sense of confidence
regarding those abilities and as a result, might not rule in a way that best suits them. A
sovereign, then, is an integral and necessary part of the commonwealth because he is the best-
equipped person to make decisions on behalf of the citizens, not the citizens themselves.
According to Hobbes, a commonwealth in which the people elect a sovereign benefits everyone
in the commonwealth because each member chooses this person to assume the role of sovereign.
In the state of nature, each individual deludes themselves into thinking they know how
adequately to fulfill their own needs and will implement the proper methods to govern
themselves independently and look after their own best interests regardless of how appealing or
unappealing these methods are to others who co-exist with them. They do not want or need a
sovereign to rule them and establish order because it potentially threatens their well-being.
Though Hobbes promotes a commonwealth as a mode of government that will see to the
best interests of all its citizens, Hobbes often expresses a pessimistic view about individuals
themselves and their capabilities in terms of acting selflessly. He writes:
The examples of Princes, to those that see them, are, and ever have been, more potent to
govern their actions, than the Lawes themselves. And though it be our duty to do, not
what they do, but what they say; yet will that duty never be performed, till it please God
to give men an extraordinary, and supernaturall grace to follow that Precept (159).
According to Hobbes, people, when not presented with an established order or government, will
instinctively make choices based on their personal, individual desires and their insatiable need
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/35/?q=rochester: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .