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 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 government was part of the natural world. It had to be a leviathan created by men: that is, 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?
You will be graded on your ability to demonstrate your specific knowledge of these theories, as well as your ability to apply these philosophies to the various characters and scenarios in your movie selection.
You are expected to use a minimum of 3 citations from your source reading and from the Capella University Library.
- Paper Length: Approximately 950 words.
- Written Communication: Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
- APA Formatting: Resources and citations should be formatted according to APA (6th edition) style and formatting.
- Font and Font Size: Arial, 12-point, double-spaced. Use Microsoft Word.
- Number of Resources: Cite a minimum of 3 sources.
- SmartThinking Submission: Prior to submitting your paper, submit your work to SmartThinking for feedback from one of their e-structors.
The motion picture Thelma and Louise (1991) centers around two lead female protagonists Louise Sawyer and Thelma Dickinson who have both been let down by and in their lives. Louise is a strong-headed, stubborn waitress with a secret traumatic past, and Thelma is a meek housewife whose husband is abusive, infantile and controlling. Together these two friends set out on a weekend trip to the mountains in a Ford Thunderbird convertible that belongs to Louise. Their trip and the people they meet on the way set in motion a series of unfortunate events and actions by Louise who shoots a man in that tried to rape Thelma. The two friends decide to runaway together through Oklahoma to Mexico since Louise is afraid of being prosecuted, while the FBI is after them.
This essay will examine how the character Louise Sawyer’s past experience with the social and moral policies of government and her subsequent running away after shooting her friend’s attacker exemplifies the different relations between an individual and the government, the failures of governmental policies, and an individual’s choice to break away from the constrains of both society and government imposition.
Thomas Hobbes (1651) stated that the state of nature includes certain laws such as a human should not be destructive in his conduct that also states the individual’s self-preservation and security