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The concept of freedom is among one of the concepts in socio-political philosophy that, has not been given a generally acceptable definition or description. The free will thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau have not equally succeeded in laying to rest the problematic nature of human freedom. Their attempts have always appeared as a contrast between freedom from the existentialist point of view especially when one draws allusion from Jean-Paul Sartre’s position that man is free for being free. And that freedom is in the nature of man. Hence, this research work aims at critically examining Thomas Hobbes’ concept of freedom; to fill some gaps which Thomas Hobbes created in his analysis of the concept, of freedom. Among these loopholes in Thomas Hobbes philosophy of freedom is his view that every individual should surrender his or her freedom and vest them in a single individual whom Thomas Hobbes called Leviathan. The question is, can this Leviathan become despotic and hence restrict individual freedom instead of protecting the individual freedom? These and more are some of the issues that the researcher tends to rework in this research.        


  • Background Of The Study:

The concept of freedom happens to be one of the concepts in socio-political philosophy that has not received a lasting philosophical explanations as most philosophers ran into certain contradictions in the attempt to proffer or as it were come up with a workable definition of the nature of human freedom, its limitations and scopes. And among the socio-political thinkers that talked about the concept of freedom are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean- Jacque Rousseau. 

And being determinate in giving the philosophical basis of human freedom, its scopes and limitations they adopted one form of theories or the other. Hobbes came up with the concept of the leviathan or the sovereign who according to him should be the one that controls the individual’s exercise of freedom in the society. As he is charged   with the responsibility of controlling or as it were checking the exercise of the individual’s freedom in the society.

But, the Hobbesian notion and analysis of functions and powers of the leviathan may poise one into asking such questions as who then should check the leviathans exercise of freedom because, for there to be checks and balances in the society, there must be a higher sovereign that should check the freedom of the Leviathan. This and more happens to be one of the limitations in Hobbes analysis of the concept of freedom which this works tend to solve.

Again, Hobbes’ concept of freedom will go a long way to either solidify or as it were affect his notion of the civil society. This is because, if the power of the Leviathan is not placed under check like what Locke meant when he talked about sovereignty residing on the people, the Leviathan may turn to be a despot, during which the real essence of civil society may be losses.


1.2 Statement Of The Problem:

The concept of human freedom, its scope and limitation has remained a persistent philosophical problem that has not been given a lasting philosophical attention. And this is the reason for having two schools of thought in philosophy that talked about freedom, that is the deterministic thinkers and the freewill thinkers. It now becomes a philosophical problem determining whether or not human beings should be allowed to exercise their freedom without any check been placed on

them, or should such a check constitute an instrument of constraints on man’s real nature, which according to Jean-Paul Sartre is “being free”. Hence, the Hobbesian concept of the Leviathan can equally be subjected to such philosophical examination since to an extent, the Leviathan’s power as the sovereign can add or remove to the individuals self realization and exercise of freedom. Thus, this work is an attempt to look at Hobbes’ analysis of freedom and its relationship to the individuals in the society and the sovereign.

1.3 Purpose Of The Study:

This research work is an attempt to show that, freedom is an inalienable characteristic and right of every human being but need some limitations if it must be maintained, protected and preserved. Again, the research tends to show that the kind of limitation that should be placed on individual freedom, should not be that which may end up encouraging dictatorship and totalitarianism. The work equally tend to prove that Hobbes’ notion of the leviathan may be dictatorial if not properly checked or controlled.

  • Scope Of The Study:

The concept of freedom is such a wide area of philosophy. It cuts across metaphysics, ethics and socio-political philosophy. And as such a detailed study of all the aspects of freedom as is been discussed in different branches and scopes of philosophy may burden the focus of this work. In that effect therefore, this work is limited to the analysis of Thomas Hobbes, concept of freedom. However, mention was also made of the position and contributions of such thinkers as Rousseau, J. S. Mill, John Rawls, Locke and Kant especially as it concerns realizing the goals of this work.

  • Significance Of The Study:

This work will be significant or relevant in the following ways: it will serve as a source of reference for students who may want to research in this area of philosophy. It will also serve as both entertaining and educating material to those who love reading and research. And as a philosophical work, it will help to educate people such as the general public on what should constitute the basis of human freedom and its limitations. The work will equally help leaders to understand that being the head or the sovereign as the case may be, should not be the criteria for trampling on the freedom of other people or as it were becoming despotic.

1.6 Methodology:

This work employs the critical, analytic, evaluative and the argumentative method of philosophy. Its primary source of data collection includes library, materials as textbooks, encyclopedia, Journals and Internet materials. The work equally adopts, the Modern Language Association (M.L.A) style of documentation, in terms of citations.


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