Identity Crisis In African Philosophy: A Philosophical Study Of Nkrumah’s Consciencism

Identity Crisis In African Philosophy: A Philosophical Study Of Nkrumah’s Consciencism



  1.  Background to the Study

Philosophy generally reflects the socio-political situation of its time and place. Socio-political situations generally raise many questions in the minds of people and thus give rise to reflection and philosophizing. Hence, there is always a close connection between the socio-political situation of a place at a given time and the philosophy of that place at that particular period. Contemporary African philosophy is predominantly a political philosophy and this reflects the socio-political situation from which it arose. The socio-political situation of contemporary Africa raised questions in the minds of African thinkers and prompted them to focus their thoughts on political issues.

Since the middle of 20th century, African scholars have been battling with rediscovery of African identity after the devastating effect of European slavery and colonization. Most of the scholars argue that European slavery and colonialism devastated African psyche, rubbished her culture and values, and left her empty of any coherent world view of reality. The travails and backwardness of Africa in social, economic, and political development have been blamed on European colonialism and neo-colonialism. Fifty-five years after most African nations have become politically independent; many African scholars still blame the Western world for the backwardness of the continent. The situation is worrisome when we consider that other continents that were colonized like Africa are picking their pieces and advancing their development.

The question that agitates the mind here is; why is it that Africa cannot rise above her experience of European invasion and actualize herself? Man is always confronted with challenges and what distinguishes a people is how they are able to manage and overcome their challenges. It is the opinion of this essay that part of the problems of African underdevelopment is the Africa psychological complacency necessitated by abundant resources and environmental friendliness that sustains life at minimal stress. The search for African identity should not just focus on the past culture and achievements of the continent but also on the contemporary prowess of the continent that can propel her to overcome this psychological complacency and work towards greater heights in achievements that will attract the attention of the world. It is of age that Africans should stop lamenting the evils of European invasion and continual manipulation of the continent and confront the challenges the contemporary world order has in stock for her. The continent cannot develop on the terms of sympathy from other continents but on the strength of authentic and realistic confrontation of her challenges with the intention of overcoming them by herself and defining her existence in the world affairs.

During the 19th century, the scramble for territories by European powers took a new turn as they began to make significant advances to tropical Africa. By 1913, European powers had divided the African continent into miserable groups that showed little or no regard for ethnic and linguistic boundaries. This opened the African version of colonialism. The human and natural resources of Africa were exploited, independent African communities lost their political liberty, and Africa suffered a crisis of self-confidence, creating a lasting sense of inferiority and subjugation that builds a barrier to growth and innovation. In the face of these exploitative and ideological devaluation of the black race, emerged an interesting package to the development of African political ideology.

Many Africans began the search for an ideological project of self-affirmation and assertive cultural nationalism. Among these were Nnamdi Azikiwe, the pilot of Nigerian independence, Leopold Senghor, appraised as an apostle of negritude, Kwame Nkrumah, a radical nationalist and a proponent of Pan-Africanism, Obafemi Awolowo, a socialist oriented nationalist, Julius Nyerere, the father of Ujamaa Socialism, Edward Wilmot Blyden and his African Personality, Kenneth Kaunda and his African Humanism, Frantz Fanon and his Violent resistance, Tom Mboya and his African socialism and the challenge to nationhood. The focus of this thesis is to highlight and analyze Kwame Nkrumah’s political ideology in his work Consciencism, how it addresses the problems of African independence and the global solution to Africa’s problems through a unified effort in Pan-Africanism using his work titled Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization, published in 1964 and re-published in 1979.

  1. 1.2      Statement of the Problem

The Euro-colonial attack on the African continent was the main event that separated the African from his traditional past. Not only did colonialism put a stop to gradual African cultural growth, there was also the tendency of the colonial agents to wipe out the past, especially with regards to language, and religion on economic and political grounds. In some cases, the colonial agents transferred what was too valuable to be destroyed to the safety of the colonizing lands. Thus, the African, in addition to losing his political independence, also lost his myths, folktales, legends, language, culture and religion to foreign ones.

Hence, by the beginning of the 20th century A.D, the face of Africa had undergone a noticeable change. The change was brought about by years of trans-Atlantic slave trade, the transportation of human cargo to the Americas and to Europe and series of wars of colonial subjugation, which destroyed the African will and effective cultural presence and enthroned new political and religious creeds that will gradually try to replace the old. The African has in effect become divided in an unusual and negative way. She has become one who has to pay a double allegiance to at least two masters at the same time. She cannot eradicate her African past, and she cannot just view the colonial presence without concern. This brought about a confused identity among the Africans both within and in diaspora.

What is the relationship between reality and colonialism? What are the springs of colonialism? Is it a good or is it a necessary evil? Is colonialism a universal human problem? How must philosophy come to terms with the African traditional heritage and the colonial heritage? What new personality ought to emerge as a product of the various cultural heritage of the African?  This shows that with the ailment of the mind, the body is affected. When the inner self is disillusioned then the outer self is nothing but disorder and confusion. And this is the case with Africa. Since her contact with the Europeans, Africa has been psychologically traumatized in every way. And the effect has manifested physically and also mentally. This is a clear indication of what Nkrumah’s Consciencism portrays. It is in attacking this question that one will notice that the identity crisis has been a deep rooted syndrome on the African mind. Nkrumah’s Consciencism is a theory about transforming independent Africa. The main problem about this transformation of independent African countries is how to make Africa’s basic or traditional social heritage to prevail notwithstanding the various cultural currents that have been introduced into Africa from foreign countries. Hence, the thrust of Consciencism is socio-political. The question of which we are concerned in this essay is this: How can African societies use their identity to develop? Can it construct progress without a vision of its past, or can it link its future development with its historical tradition? Such a question requires the adoption of certain ideologies that are grounded on the culture of the people.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

It has been an undertaking of philosophy to give meaning to human existence. Since it is philosophical mission to give meaning to human existence, it is my estimation that it is appropriate to look into the issue of crisis of identity and ideology in Nkrumah’s Consciencism. It is appropriate to note that the acknowledgment of African identity is necessary because of its vast contact and involvement with Europe. However, it is my view to look at why there is crisis of identity in African philosophy and culture analyzing Nkrumah’s Consciencism. Kwame Nkrumah’s mission in the world was to dismantle colonialism in Africa and restore the lost  African identity. His vision was the restoration of the dignity that was lost as a result of slavery and colonialism to enable the African to function freely in the coming unified world society as an equal player and partner. Kwame Nkrumah was keenly aware that the problem of humanity would not be fully addressed if the problem of Africa was not addressed, and he made it his mission to do that. In this crusade, Kwame Nkrumah was not alone, for others also recognized the urgent need to address the problem of Africa. However, it is my view to look at why there is crisis of identity in African philosophy analyzing Nkrumah’s Consciencism, and to prove that African of today is and should be a hybrid and thus does not advocate for a return to a pristine existence.

1.4 Scope of the Study

It is pertinent to note that the crunch of identity is common basic issue in contemporary African society. It ranges from the disappearance of authentic African cultural heritage, to the rational disparagement of Africa, then to the physical dehumanization of Africa and finally to the psychologically devastated Africa. It is this psychologically distressed Africa that is our concern in this thesis. This work exposes the causes of this crisis, the effect and its victim as the contemporary African society. Since our concern in this thesis is the analysis of Nkrumah’s ideology and the crisis of identity in Africa, it is my view to examine Nkrumah’s Consciencism to showcase the inherent crisis in his theory. Again to prove what necessitated his work and the influence of Marxism on him. With this in mind, our thesis should base on exposing Nkrumah’s philosophy of Consciencism and his effort to lay a foundation for decolonization of Africa. Then to give a clue of what one is to consider in identifying the African personality. The range of this work shall be library research and internet resources.

1.5 Significance of the Study

When one places Nkrumah’s Consciencism in the context of unforeseen circumstances in present-day African society, one easily identifies the root cause of identity crisis in Africa. And this is why Nkrumah maintains that it is only through revolution that Africa can be totally free to mind its own destiny and regain its lost culture and life. Thus, Kwame Nkrumah’s Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization, was geared towards decolonization of Africa in order that there will be a harmony that will aid Africans and its influences from abroad. This adds confidently to our field of study because, it will help to explore, expose, analyze, criticize, and redefine the ideologies and the identity crisis intrinsic in Nkrumah’s work and accepts its valuable needs for the mastery of her own identity. What Africa needs is a good knowledge of taking cognizance of its past and the present in order to foresee how the future will be like? This shows why African philosophers should be able to provide the better steps towards achieving this goal. This is because it will help to provide the historically depreciated; politically instability, economically bastardized, culturally alienated, and psychologically traumatized Africa, a sense of dignity in achieving its own uniqueness and personality.

The problem of identity crisis in Africa is most significant in modern African philosophy because African philosophers have occupied themselves with the question of crisis of identity in Africa. And thus, they are concerned about the best possible ways to salvage the African personality in details. Therefore, this research is so important because Nkrumah’s Consciencism was geared towards rescuing the disparaged image of the African in order for them to have total liberation of themselves by realizing their root and the implications of the confused personality that have over taken the African continent.

Therefore, this work is significant because it enables us to know the right edge of mind to follow in order for us to be able to identify our personality proper.It is only then can Africa be said to be free and free indeed. African communalism and socialism contain within their framework the positive principles that will contribute to the free growth of the individuals in the contemporary African society, so there is need to evolve a modern African society that can afford a better opportunity for the proper realization of the dignity and self-identity of the individual as well as the communal and social integrity and development of the contemporary African society.

1.6 Methodology

The methodology to be employed in this thesis is analysis method, using Nkrumah’s Consciencism to showcase this very fact. This thesis is divided into Five Chapters.

Chapter One focuses on the general introduction, background of the study, statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study, methodology and then the definition of terms.

Chapter Two delves into examining some literatures that talked about African personality. And also to consider some philosophers’ notion that talked about Nkrumah’s Consciencism.

Chapter Three concerns itself more on the possible causes of the crisis of identity in Africa and then the effect of the crisis in Africa in recent times. It also seeks to examine African philosophy in its quest for identity.

Then, Chapter Four centres on the analysis of Nkrumah’s Consciencism and his struggle for African Liberation.Here, we centre on the possible reasons for his writing Consciencism and the influence and role Marxism played on Nkrumah and in independence of African nation states respectively. It also incorporates exposition of the crisis implicit in his Consciencism, and his inability to wriggle himself out of the crisis.

Lastly, Chapter Five will be on the evaluation of the whole work and then conclusion.

In sum, I hope a rundown of the thesis will certainly expose the crisis we have in recognizing our identity; and be able to formulate a better identity that will help revitalise Africa in their design for contemporary African philosophy.

1.7 Definition of Terms

For our present enterprise to be intelligible and meaningful there is need for proper understanding of some major terms involved. Such words shall be briefly defined according to the context of which they shall be used in this thesis. They include: African, communalism, socialism, Marxism, Egalitarianism, identity crisis and colonialism.


The word communalism was derived from the Latin word communis which means common. Communalism could be used interchangeably with communitarianism in this work. Communalism is the socio-political theory that upholds the priority of the community over the individual.1Communalistic principle underlies African philosophical endeavors as well as African people’s practical orientations to social, moral and political values generally. One could say that in traditional African society, man never does anything, receives anything, or suffers anything alone. It is a popular belief held in a nearly “un-animistic” way, that is, that Africans do not think of themselves as “discrete individuals”, but rather understand themselves as part of a “community”. This is sometimes referred to as African communalism.2 African communalism refers to the mode of life of the traditional Africans which entails collective and co-operative life.


It is a philosophical thought system that emphasizes equality and equal treatment across gender, religion, economic status and political beliefs. It holds the belief that everyone is equal and should have the same rights and opportunities. One of the major tenets of egalitarianism is that all people are fundamentally equal. Egalitarianism can be examined from a social perspective that looks at ways to reduce economic inequalities or from a political perspective that looks at ways to ensure the equal treatment and rights of diverse groups of people. Egalitarianism may focus on income inequality and distribution and, as a philosophy, has influenced the development of various economic and political systems. Karl Marx looked to egalitarianism as a starting point in the creation of his Marxist philosophy, and John Locke considered egalitarianism when he proposed that individuals had natural rights. Kwame Nkrumah also modified this to suite his ideology.3

Identity Crisis

Identity can be defined as a fairly stable sense of who you are and what people know you to be. It goes beyond sex or gender. It has to do with the following questions; who am I? If I am unique in the world, what establishes my uniqueness? Am I a man or a woman? What is the purpose of my being in the world? and others too numerous to mention. The ability to answer the above questions means that one to a certain extent has known oneself. According to psychologists, there are two things that help us to understand one’s identity; crisis and commitment. Crisis is a state of being confused about one’s life while commitment has to do with making a stable choice in life. According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, identity is the characteristics, feelings or beliefs that distinguish people from others, a sense of national, cultural, personal, group identities, to show or prove who or what somebody/something is.4 It is designating who or what somebody is. Identity in this thesis signifies this but it is synonymous with Africans recognizing not only the things that identify them as Africans alone but also taking cognizance of her experience in history. This is what portrays the true identity of the African. While crisis in this thesis implies the psychological trauma that is troubling the African mind in the identification of herself. Thus, crisis here is caused by the existence of African tradition with other cultures of the world. There is therefore the dilemma of following one and leaving the other. The search for identity in Africa presupposes that the African has identity crisis.


According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, colonialism is defined as the practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another.5 It is the act of ruling nations not with their consent as colonies. This is usually done for the economic benefit of the colonialist. Colonialism is synonymous with exploitation. This is because colonialism is never geared towards making the colonized better but for the benefit of the colonizer. In this work, we are strictly dealing with the European colonization of Africans. The imposition of foreign culture on the African continent that brought about Africans being a single continent with confused identity.


Consciencism is a philosophy based on a set of philosophical statements penned by Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972). According to Nkrumah, Africans everywhere share historical bonds, cultural bonds, and common aspirations for unity, but colonialism and enslavement interrupted the expression of this shared heritage and generated a cultural confusion rectifiable only by the ethical imposition of conscience. Nkrumah therefore presented Consciencism as a way of beginning to resolve what he saw as the crisis of the African conscience. The statements that detail the philosophy were intended as a theoretical basis for an ideology that synthesizes the African experience. The elements of this synthesis are; (1) traditional African society, which is understood as the base of the African experience and is used to filter other experiences through; (2) Islam’s effect on the worldwide African community; and (3) the Euro-Christian impact on that community.  Consciencism is the philosophy and ideology of Kwame Nkrumah and of the party he founded Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP).  It is the philosophy and ideology of decolonization with particular reference to the African Revolution. It can be seen as the Pan African philosophy heritage.

John Stuart Mill’s Concept Of Liberty And Women’s Participation In Nigerian Politics

John Stuart Mill’s Concept Of Liberty And Women’s Participation In Nigerian Politics: A Philosophical Appraisal



1.1       Background of the Study

Women form a large proportion of Nigeria’s population, constituting about 78 million out of 170 million Nigerians. But unfortunately, this numerical strength does not reflect in the level of women’s involvement in governance, the United Nation’s global development indicator reveals that women in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world trail behind men socially, economically and politically.In Nigeria today, a close look at the governance structures shows that women’s involvement is marginal although the population of men and women in the country is relatively slow. In her article, “The Emergence of Women Political Leaders”, Orji posits that:

Progress in the area of political participation of women remain slow. In almost all countries, women have the right to vote on paper, to be eligible for elections or appointment to public office, and to exercise public functions on equal terms with men at local, national and international levels.1

It is on record that Nigerian women are virtually invisible and inactive in the country’s political and decision making structures. Men were said to have dominated strategic decision making positions in Nigeria since her independence. In the First Republic (1960-1966), there were only two women members in the 48 members of Federal House of Senate. During the Second Republic (1979-1983), there was only one female senator and a female member of the House of Representatives out of 57 and the house respectively. Between 1999–2003, there were three female senators out of 109 and 12 female members of the House of Representatives out of 360 members.2 The foregoing analysis depicts women’s low participation in Nigerian Politics. Furthermore, from 2011–2015, there were 9 female senators, compared to 4 in 2003. Also, there were 26 female members in the House of Representatives. The result of the just concluded 2015 general elections in Nigeria has not shown improved women representation in elective positions in the country. However, out of the 14 candidates that contested for the seat of the presidency, the only woman among the contenders came out the 12th position, just as men have always dominated the national assembly.

Meanwhile, the importance of women in the political process, economic development, and the social life of any nation need not to be emphasized. It is widely acknowledged that women constitute key national resources, whose ideas, creative solutions and concerns for cohesiveness of the social fabric can help improve the quality of life of individuals and society at larger.

Recent achievements and participation of Nigerian women in politics today shows that if given full support and encouragement to the Nigerian women, they will do better than their male counterpart. Moreover, Nigerian state has not taken the issue of low participation of women in politics seriously despite some progress made by some great Nigerian women and their contributions to social, political and economic well being of the country.

On this note, this work shall examine critically the constraints and opportunities for the emergence of women political leaders in Nigeria. J. S. Mill’s concept of liberty stands as a focal point in this study in attempt to ameliorate the plight of the women and elucidates the predicament of womanhood in a male dominated socio-economic and political environment.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Every research or investigation must be motivated by a desire to address (or at least attempt to solve) a problem or set of problems. This work is an attempt to address the issue of gender inequality and women empowerment in Nigerian politics. It is a demand for equal access to leadership positions. Since Nigeria had independent we have never had female president or elected female governor? Why do we have few female genders in Nigerian politics? Why have women remained in a state of political paralysis? Are women all that powerless? Do women educations really belong to the kitchen? Don’t women have political behaviours? Is women age affecting their political aspirations? What are the roots and causes of this situation? Slaves had already been freed from bondage by this time, why not women too? Why still using premodern law of forces instead of modern law of reason? The rights of millions of Nigerian women are undermined by men; that is why our society remains male-oriented and male-dominated. Women are constrained by the customs and traditions made by men and constantly frustrate the rights of women and take control of their destiny. It is inhuman for man to enslave another.

The mention of the word ‘liberty’ one may shout liberty again? What will women do with liberty? How far have they gone with the one given to them? Are they still thirsty of equality? Don’t women know that they belong to other room? Can women empowerment be the solution to the problem of Nigerian leadership? Can equality between men and women be possible or justifiable? These, as it were, seem to be born out of Sophocles observation that “miracles in the world are many but there is no greater miracle than man”.

This problem of gender equality has a solution since it is man-made and men are in the best position to address this problem. Protagoras the most famous and perhaps the first sophist proffer solution to this gender problem by saying that “man is the measure of all things, of the things that they are, they are and of the things that they are not, they are not”.3 What these means here is that the ethical values and judgments: laws and customs are simply products of human agreement. However, since men decides for themselves what exists as laws and customs and what should not exist as laws and customs in the society, they should also re-dress this unjust acts against women. If not, Nigeria dreams will remain a mere dream until women are emancipated and empowered.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The meaning of the word liberty connotes some form of freewill and autonomy which should be the core of human fundamental, as individual liberty and self autonomy gives the humans the credibility of happiness. Thus, since individual freedom is necessary for happiness, therefore, women with the enormous role they play in the family cum society especially as it relates to child bearing and training of children need to be empowered for self-reliance. If the right of choice or freedom is given to women, the government and its functions will witness enormous “functionality” as women will play fundamental roles in the society cum governance. One of the major things this study stands out to achieve is that liberty is essential for the existence required by women for their survival. If a woman is to live on earth, it is right for her to use her mind, it is right for her to act on her own free judgment, it is right for her to work for her values and to keep the product of her work.

It is also to trace the history of women’s involvement in Nigerian political participation. To identify the factors that are responsible for women’s participation in politics. To make suggestions that will enhance women’s participation in party politics.

This work is also hope to achieve set objectives which include: to prove that Nigeria will be a better place if women were to be empowered; to provide explanation for the problem of women inequality in Nigeria; to show that there is something in Mill’s concept of liberty that will be useful in understanding the problem of women empowerment in Nigeria as well as to show that the inequality between men and women is not a natural creation but a socio-cultural construct. Furthermore, recent achievements of women in this present and past administration show cased that if women are given the full support in leadership position, they will do better than their male counterpart.

1.4       Scope of the Study

This thesis is an exposition of Mill’s concept of liberty vis-a-vis women participation in Nigerian politics. The scope of this work centres on Mill’s position on liberty and gender issues and how these ideas on liberty and minority rights as found in Mill’s philosophy will stand a chance of empowering the women, especially the Nigerian women into politics, because the most neglected parts of development in Nigeria is not road or electricity as many may assumed but women. Women need to be developed in order to account for genuine and inclusive development. The scope of the work is limited to Mill’s concept of liberty and women emancipation in Nigerian politics.

1.5       Significance of the Study

The concept of liberty by J. S. Mill provides new insight in the analysis of the problem of women empowerment. His ideas did not descend from the blues; it was as a result of the dastardly act meted out by men to women. This work is significant because it would provide a refreshing addition to the research materials available to students and the general readers interested in liberty and women empowerment especially Nigeria perspective. It is important because it would motivate scholars who have taken the existence of gender inequality for granted to realize its importance. It is also significant because of it focusing attention on Mill’s minority rights with renewed interest in the empowerment of women; no matter how minor they are conceived. The study will be of immense significance to women as a means to inform women for it is often said: if you are not informed, you will be deformed especially now that education is vital for women empowerment.

Finally, this work will help women to realize their full rights and provoke them to reflect on Mary Astell’s argument: “if all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves”.

1.6       Methodology

The method adopted for this research is analysis. Analysis is the process of breaking down a complex topic; a detailed study or examination of something in order to understand more about it as a basis for discussion. The most prominent of these techniques is the analysis of concept known as conceptual analysis. It involves breaking down or analyzing concepts into their constituent parts in order to gain knowledge or better understanding of a particular philosophical issue that the concept is involved.

According to Onyeocha, “ Philosopher tries to clarify an issue by using certain mental tools to break the general concepts under enquiring into smaller ideas that are easier to work with. In practice,this amounts to searching for specific definitions of the ideas or concepts involved, in the philosophical issue under investigation.”4

For a systematic study, this work is organized into Five Chapters. Chapter One is the introduction. Chapter Two focuses on the literature review. Chapter Three tells more about the man John Stuart Mill, his intellectual influences and the concept of liberty. Chapter Four of this work looks into the aspects of women empowerment in Nigeria and the obstacles involved in women’s participation in politics. Chapter Five captures evaluation and conclusion of the work.

1.7       Definition of Terms

To achieve clarification which is the business of analytic philosophy, it is necessary in this work to analyse terms which are essential to this work. These concepts are liberty, empowerment, feminism and politics.


According to Odimegwu in his article: “The African Person in the Dialogic of Religion, Politics and Development”, posits that “politics is about the need, the development, the manipulation, the struggle for and the maintenance of the instruments and mechanisms of power and control in human societies and human relations generally”.5 Generally, politics deals with the state or political society, that is a people organized for law within a definite territory. Aristotle’s description of politics as the master science whereby he indicated that politics is concerned with men’s attempts to control their fate on earth, to control the nature around them, and ultimately to control their fellow men in order to direct all these according to their own fundamental beliefs and visions of reality and human existence.

On a general note politics has been variously conceptualized as an influence game, a conflict game, a power game, and as a value game. Each of these perspectives affects the definition of politics.


Various philosophers and thinkers have presented a general view of what liberty means. In his unpublished lecture note on “Socio and Political Philosophy” Okolie Charles (Quoting Hayek) refers to liberty as that condition of men in which coercion of some by others is drastically reduced.6 This definition in order words means that a man who is not subject to the coercion of another person is said to be enjoying individual freedom. In his book The Substance of Politics, Appadorai perceives liberty as “the faculty of willing and the power of doing what has been willed without influences from any other source or from without”.7 From the above views when an individual does something according to his own will, then his action is considered free.

Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson in his book Genius of Liberty posits that, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. He contends that, “no one automatically has the prerogative to dominate another because to be created equal entails the right to liberty, so this right are not merely legal privileges that government grant or withhold as they please. Rather, such rights are natural as part and parcel of what is meant to being human; they belong equally to all both men and women and would not be violated with impunity”. So, liberty is a condition of existence required by women’s nature for their proper survival.


Empowerment simply means to empower, and to empower means to give increase capacity or ability to do something. Evans Offor in his book Women Empowerment posits that, to empower means “to delegate legal power to”, “to authorized” “to enable”.8 However Empowerment deals properly with enablement authorization, legalization and what more; the process of uplifting the status of human beings to self-actualization and the realization of the integral development of humanity. Women empowerment is the focus of this work as regards to empowerment. Women empowerment simply means, women developing the capability and ability to control and direct. Empowerment of women therefore is a process and as well as an end result of activities that improve the quality of life of women generally. In her article on “Education for Women Empowerment in Nigeria”, Obidike, N. D. stressed that, “women empowerment portrayed as the process that question the socio-political status quo and seeks to distraction which degrade woman hood and deny the female equity as a human being”.9


Feminism is a movement that advocates for equality between men and women. It developed from a position of opposition, opposition not to men but the oppression of women and first by implication and then implicitly, all peoples who are treated as inferior by dominant groups. It centres its demand on the basis that man constantly frustrates the right of a woman to take control of her own destiny. “It strives towards equalizing women with men in the areas of social, political and economic responsibility”.10

In broad context, the feminist argued that women have not only been accorded rights inferior to those of men, their status is implicitly taken as inferior. This has increase patriarchy and has consequently dampened their emotions, thoughts, activities and subjugation in social relations.

Abortion And Dignity Of Human Life: A Moral Consideration

Abortion And Dignity Of Human Life: A Moral Consideration



“Abortion is the removal of the product of human conceptus [foetus or non-viable human being] whether before or after implantation in the womb”[1]. It is any act of the removal of the unborn baby from the moment of fertilization to the time of birth. Traditionally, it is   removal of the preborn child from the uterus before he/she has reached the age of viability [i.e. at the point when a Continue reading Abortion And Dignity Of Human Life: A Moral Consideration

Significance Of The Alienation Of Labour In Karl Marx

The Significance Of The Alienation Of Labour In Karl Marx:

(It’s Implications To The Condition Of The Nigerian Workers)


The 17th century philosophy, the enlightenment period, is significant for so many reasons. Not only did it witness the emergence of many vigorous thinkers, but it also shifted the attention of philosophy from the cosmos (ancient period) and God (medieval period) to the appreciation of man as both the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of all reality. In a splendid way, the philosophies of the Continue reading Significance Of The Alienation Of Labour In Karl Marx

Critical Appraisal Of The State Of Nature And Political Right In Thomas Hobbes

Critical Appraisal Of The State Of Nature And Political Right In Thomas Hobbes


1.1                THE STATE OF NATURE

The notion that man is a creature equipped from birth for society is a view implicit in Plato and expressly formulated by Aristotle in the genesis of his politics.

Man is by nature, a political animal. Anyone who by his nature and not simply by ill-luck has no state is either too bad or too good, either sub-human or super- human[1]

Thomas Hobbes regards the assumption that man is by nature political animal as false. In his view, man became a political animal only after the institution of the civil society. The period prior to the civil society is what Locke, Rousseau as well as Hobbes called ‘the state of nature’ – the apolitical state of man. In the hypothetical state of nature, there lacks a central and sovereign power. Life in this state is unrest, misery, constant fear, war, and insecurity and is ruled by egoistic law of self- preservation. This is because in this state, all men are equal and equally have the right to whatever they consider necessary for their survival.  On this Hobbes notes:

The right of nature is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself… and consequently of doing any thing which in his own judgment and he shall conceive to be the aptest means there unto.[2]

Equality here means simply that anyone is capable of hunting his weak neighbour and taking what he thinks he needs for his own protection.

In Hobbes’ state of nature, there exists the survival of the fittest for instance, a physically strong man could overcome the physically weak and take what belongs to the weak, but the weak could by his intelligence gain advantage over the strong by joining forces with those in the same danger with him. Therefore, a lack in one aspect could be compensated with some other thing. We have to note also that the right of all to all that prevails in this state does not mean that one man has a right whereas others have corresponding duties.    The word right in the state of nature is man’s freedom:

To do what he would, and against whom he thought fit and to possesses use and enjoy all that he would or could get”. [3]

 Hobbes later identified three reasons for the disorder and quarrels: he says

In the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First is competition, secondly, difference, and thirdly, glory”. [4] Hobbes said that the first makes meaning for gain, the second, for safety, and the third for reputation. Hobbes asserted that before the formation of civil society and sovereignty, men were in continuous state of war with each other. This situation he technically called ‘the threat of war’. And war here does not necessarily imply battle (fighting) but portrays the situation where man lives in continual fear, and insecurity. One sees his neighbour as a threat to his existence and obstruction to his well-being.

There is no common power ipso facto, no rules, no morality and justice, personal and selfish inclination was the principle that governed all actions. Everyone feels he is entitled to every thing. Ownership is effective only in so far as no stronger person has interrupted. And because man is constantly in want, he tries to eliminate the other. The continuous conflict of desire remains the order of the day.

The situation is precisely that of war of all against all. There exist a continual fear and danger of violent death, all individual deciding how best to survive this anarchy and disorder. Hence:

“There is no place for industry because the fruit thereof is uncertain; no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea. No commodious building, no instrument of moving and removing such things as required much force. No account of time, no art, no letters, no society and which is worst of all continual fear and danger of violent death. And the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.[5]

Hobbes held that it was man’s continuous desire for power, honour and fame that result in the disorderliness in the state of nature. Thus he writes;

I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after the power, that cease the only in death. And the cause of this, is not always that man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to, or that he cannot assure the power and means to live well which he hath present without the acquisition of more. And from hence it is, that kings whose power is greatest, turn their endeavour to the assuring it at home by laws or abroad by war”.[6]

Rousseau, one of the political philosophers held that man is naturally good; but was corrupted by contemporary society of man. He further believed that it was competition and lust for private property that was responsible for this corruption. He equally believes in the essential goodness and sympathetic nature of man. For him, state of nature is of idyllic happiness since man is free being who enjoys equality.

Locke on his own part has a very optimistic view of the Human nature. For him,

The state of nature has a law of nature to govern which obliges every one, and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind… that being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions”.[7]

Nevertheless, the state of nature as proposed by Hobbes is not a historical fact. Rather it is a situation that obtains in lawless society. The central questions how can man agree to form society since they are according to Hobbes, antisocial, politically and culturally apart. To fight these societal maladies, Hobbes found out what he referred to as natural law (Lex naturals). These laws will urge them to organize themselves into civil society.


Natural law dates from the time of rational creation. It does not vary according to time but remains unchangeable, because it is written in the hearts of all men, right from birth as the scripture held it. Hobbes in his political philosophy saw natural law as:

A precept or general rule founded out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life or taketh away the means of preserving the same, and to omit that which he thniketh it may be best preserved.[8]

Nature takes the second position after the eternal law as a source of law. There are mainly three sources of law: namely God, Nature and Sovereignty. It is from these that we derive the eternal, natural and civil laws respectively. Naturally, law is a divine will discovered in nature by man through the dictates of reason, while the civil law is the law made in accordance with the rule of nature by one who has the command over others. The natural law, therefore, is the dictates of right reason. Men discovered that they must lay aside the right of nature in order to preserve their lives. None of these laws is man-made rather they are discovered by human reason which already exist from the very nature of individual existence. They are laws which man cannot change or influence, but can only conform and abide by.

Hobbes described the condition of man before civil society as a state of equality between individual freemen.  Everyman has the right to all things he desired. The condition was described by Hobbes as war of all against all, hence the condition of man becoming wolf to man. It is through nature that each man knows that he has to protect himself.  Everyman quarrels. So the need to protect his natural right of self-preservation that leads men to form a civil society. The laws of nature are those rules that rational man must accept, if he were conscious of his horrible predicament in the state of nature, where men are selfish. To answer the question how men move from the state of nature to form social state, Hobbes deduced nineteen other natural laws from the fundamental right of self- preservation.   Among these laws, deduced by Hobbes, only three of these laws will be discussed here. The first of these laws states that: Everyman ought to endevour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it, and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek all helps and advantage of war”.[9]   From the above quotation, we can see that it contains the first and the fundamental law of nature; which is to seek peace and follow it. It also contains the natural right, which we can by all means protect and defend ourselves.

The second law of nature by which we are urged to endeavour peace, this law states;

That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defence of himself he shall think necessary, to lay down this right to all things, and be contended with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself”.[10]

It is from the compromise arising from the second law of nature that made it possible for men to come together and form a social society. This is because if everyman holds his natural right, they return to their former condition, that is, condition before civil society. The second laws also held that man has to lay down his right on the condition that others will do the same because he will make himself prey to others if they refuse to lay down theirs. Right is laid aside, either by simply renouncing it or by transferring it to another. Men are bound not to hinder those they have entrusted their right from exercising them. If they eventually go contrary to that, they have committed injustice or injury. This mutual transferring of right is that which men call “CONTRACT”.

From that law of nature, by which we are obliged to transfer right to another, such rights as being retained, hinder the peace of mankind, there followeth a third law of nature which is, “that man perform their covenants made.” Without which covenants are in vain but empty words, and the right of all men to all things remaining, we are still in the condition of war. This law of nature constitutes the foundation and origin of justice. To break the covenant made is unjust and the definition of injustice is no other than non-performance of convent. But because covenants is a mutual trust, where there is a fear of non performance, on either part…. are invalid, therefore before the names of just and unjust can have place, there must be some cohesive power to compel men equally to performance of their covenants, by terror of some punishment, greater than the benefit they expect by the breach of their covenant.

Natural law according to Hobbes binds in conscience, and still maintains that all men have an obligation to obey the natural law in a state of nature. And it is obeying the natural laws that made it possible for the mutual transferring of rights, and man forming political society.



The evolution of social humanity was as a result of the natural law, which binds man’s conscience and maintains that all men have an obligation to obey this natural law in the state of nature. And since self-preservation is the fundamental law of nature, it then becomes necessary that for the sake of this self-preservation, human beings should unite to form a civil society which according to Hobbes became possible through the instrumentality of the social contract. Before going into the theories of the origin of society, we shall first of all know what a society is about.

The term “civil society’ is a conglomeration of two words- “civil” and “society”. However, the treatment of the word as individual parts is worthwhile before considering them collectively.  Society can be understood as a moral organism wherein individuals are guided by a common unity. It includes within many human groups since man cannot be separated from it. In addition to the above, Encyclopedia Britannica, gives us a compendium of what society is;

The State of living in association, company or intercourse with others of the same species, the system or mode of life adopted by a body of individuals for the purpose of harmonious co-existence or for mutual benefit, etc. [11]

Rousseau emphasizing on the nature of state as the abode of the will of every individual commented that:

The people having, on the subject of social relations, united their will into a single will all the articles on which that will pronounced becomes so many fundamental laws obligatory on every member of the state without exception”.[12]

Since the life in the state of nature was characterized by constant fear, war, insecurity and ruled by egoistic law of self- preservation. It becomes necessary that man should form a society. Hobbes reasons thus;

These inconveniences are three- fold, first, the want of established, settled, known law received and allowed by common consent to be the standard of right and wrong, and the common measure to decided all controversies, secondly, the want of a known disinterested judge, with authority to determine all differences according to the established law; thirdly, the want of power to back and support the sentence when right and give it due execution”.[13]


From the above quotations, we know what society is and the purpose of civil society to man. We shall now see the view of some political philosophers concerning the origin of this civil society.


One can ask whether man is a political animal or anti-social by tracing back the life of man to pre-political society. Some group held that man is political while others held that man is antipolitical. We shall trace this civil society right from the ancient, through medieval, modern then, contemporary period.

Plato opines that the state came into existence as a consequence of man’s economic needs. Here he remarks;

A state, I said, arises as I conceived out of the need of mankind, one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants as we needed to supply them, one takes a helper for one purpose and another purpose; and when those partners and helpers are gathered together to live in one place is termed as a state.[14]

Plato stressed the natural need of man as the reason for the emergence of the state. He also maintained that the polis – state- is a natural growth based on its members.

For Aristotle, man and woman unite to form a family. From this family it grows into a village and from village to town and from town to a state. He said that when several villages are united in a single complete community that state originates. He held that it is through this village that the state comes into existence originating in the bare needs of life, and containing in the existence for the sake of good life which man desire. That any person who by nature and not by mere accident without the state is either a sub man and such a person is like the tribeless, lawless, heartless human being. The state for him is a creation of nature and man by nature is a political animal. In order to solidify his ground he calls man a political animal – Zoon Politikon.

Aquinas went a little higher by postulating that man is by nature both political and social. For him therefore, there are reasons for man’s natural life in community;

Man as a social animal by nature would then need leadership in the social life for common good, and secondly, the man who has greater knowledge of justice and hence should use it to help others”.[15]

He maintained that civil society exists in man because of his nature and because man is a social being. Having seen the view of ancient and medieval philosophers, we shall now see what the modern philosophers have to opine.

According to Locke it is because of the hardship and other predicaments that man encounter in the state of nature that made them, through natural consent and agreement, to abandon state of nature and form political society. This they did by foregoing their liberty to an executive and a legislative for corrections and for common good. For him then, a sovereign

Is one person, of whose acts a great multitude by mutual covenants one with another have made themselves everyone the author to the end, he may use the strength and means to the mill, as he shall think expedient for their peace and common defense.[16]

Rousseau pointed out that state of nature was one in which man was devoid of many worries and disturbances. He held that man in the state of nature was happy because nature provided him with all necessities. He held that men create rights and that these rights come with the convention of social contract. For him social contracts are needed. In this situation, because human life was on the verge of its destruction, men said to each other, let us

Find a form of association which may defend and protect with the whole force of the community the person and property of every associate and by means of each, coalescing with all, may nevertheless obey himself and remains as free as before”[17]

Rousseau held that the motive of men to enter into social contract was to put an end to the lawless condition of the state of nature. We shall now see what Hobbes have for us in his view of the origin of social society. Hobbes opines that, the state of nature was destructive to man. And life of man in the state of nature was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. The purpose of man coming together to form social contract was to get peace and self-preservation.


Consequently, they form a government that maintains peace for them all. Natural law consists in the moral virtue of justice, equity and all habits of the mind that conduct to peace and charity in the civil society. It is only with the help of natural law that men can forgo certain things and agree to make a social contract.


The term “Social Contract” presupposed a situation in which individuals existed separately before living collectively. It can be seen as an agreement to each concerned individual to remove himself form the original state of nature to a regime of government under laws. We shall now look into the views of some political philosophers, concerning this theory of social contract.

John Locke, as one of the contractual philosophers, made a great and tremendous impact in the field of political theories. Locke having described the state of nature as condition of peace and mutual aid and having defined natural rights, on the analogy of property, as prior even to society, he proceeded to derive civil society from the consent of its members.

According to this theory, the right is lodged necessarily only in the hand of individuals until they resign it. The individual resigns his natural right to the community or the public, which must be a kind of entity if it can receive a great power. The individual’s rights are resigned only with the intention of self-preservation, and the preservation of his liberty and property. So to remedy this defect of life in the state of nature, men voluntarily agree among themselves, to erect a political society or state where rights, freedom and property of the entire body are protected. To this Locke opines:

Whenever therefore any member of men so united with one society as to quit everyone, his executive power of the law of nature and to resign it to the public or civil state”.[18]

The formation of political society depends on the consent of the individual to join into and of doing whatever he thought fit for his self-preservation. He equally gives up the power of punishing and engages his natural force in the execution of the law of nature.

Locke begins from an individualistic position and makes society dependent on a compact or agreement. This individualistic view is different from that of Hobbes. Here, the state of war is not by essence as a state of war between each man and his fellow, but in this state of war there are natural rights and duties, which are antecedent to the state. The chief among those rights is the right of private property. Man formed political society for the more secure enjoyment and regulation of these rights. Social contract is made as a necessary device to preserve peace, defend society and protect rights and liberties. Men were regarded as having naturally social instincts and as being able and willing to learn to govern themselves.

Contract for Locke, was a common undertaking to respect those laws of God and nature, which the community itself regards as constituting the essential condition of social life. For Locke the main purpose of law is to protect property because the right to possess it was a natural or moral law, respect for which was the basis of all civil society. The greatest and chief end of man in uniting into commonwealth and putting themselves under government is for the preservation of their property to which in the state of nature there were many things wanting. After seeing what Locke has for us on social contract, we shall now take a look into Rousseau’s social contract and see what he has for us.

Rousseau believed that man is naturally good and that contemporary society has corrupted him. He also held that it was competition, lust for private property that was responsible for this corruption. In his social contract, he asserted that man must regain his freedom within the society. And to be a citizen is to want and to do what is good for the society as well as oneself.

His social contract has nothing to do with the right and the powers of government, since the later is merely the people’s agent. The society that is produced is not even remotely like a contract because the rights and the liberties of individuals have no existence at all until they are already members of the group. He held that a community of citizens is unique and co-equal with its members; they neither make it nor have right against it. It is an association not aggregation, a moral and collective responsibility. The social order is a sacred right, which is the basis of all other rights.

The problem is to find a form of association, which will defend and protect the whole common force, the person and goods of each associate. Each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself along and remain as free as before. Each puts his person and all power in common under the supreme direction of the general will. Each member is received as an indivisible part of the whole.

Apart from the society, there would be no scale of value with which to judge man’s well being. For if the society is a moral individual whose life is united with that of its members, and again if man only strive for his own preservation, then it can solidly be claimed that the state in order to move has a compelling force. Equally it disposes each part in such a way as to be most advantageous to the whole. The rights of individuals such as liberty, equality and property, which natural law attributes to men, are really the rights of citizens. Men become equal by convention and legal rights because their physical power is substantially equal. This right, which belongs to an individual in his own state, is secondary to the community’s right.

Rousseau in a principle passage of social contract had penned the view that while the individual is giving out his right, he gives it to none since he is the subject to the whole not subject to any man because there is no man above him. When the social contract is made, each becomes completely absorbed in the common self, which the person willed by obeying it. And by obeying it, he obeys himself. It is noticeable in Rousseau that there is no contact between one man and another. Rather, it is a convention where all members are equal.

Having seen the notion of social contract in Locke’s and Rousseau’s political philosophy, we have now to look into Hobbes notion of social contract and see how it differs from the above mentioned philosophers. The nature of the supposed contract, determining the mutual obligation of the sovereign and the subject varied considerably in the mind of different thinkers. Perhaps because Hobbes lived in a period of civil war and personal insecurity, he saw peace and order as the basic needs of man. For the sake of self- preservation, men should unite to form a society. Hence,

The state or political society is instituted by way of remedy for the inconvenience from a state of nature to avert, not to escape from a state of war. These inconveniences are three fold, first, the want of established settled, known law received and allowed by common consent to be the standard of right and wrong and the common measure to decide all controversies, secondly, the want o f a known and disinterested judge, with authority to determine all difference according to the established law, thirdly, the want of power to back support the sentence where right and to give it due execution”.[19]

Since men differed and had incompatible desire. The natural consequences, if they tried to live together in society, would be conflict, continual fear and danger of violent death. And because of the unsocial inclinations of men, it is hopeless to expect them to agree spontaneously to respect each other’s right.

It is also unreasonable for them to forgo self:??? right. This brings Hobbes to the theory of social contract. In this case, men agree among themselves to refrain from exercising their natural rights and to select a common cohesive power that will force them refrain from exercising such rights. And this mutual transfer or rights is called social contract. The agreement of handing over their rights to one man or assembly of men was done without any force. On this, Hobbes opines: “covenant, without the sword, are but words and no strength to secure a man at all”.[20]

It is on this ground that all men concord to transfer their rights, and covenant is made of everyman with everyman. The contract is made thus;

I authorize and give up any right of governing myself to this man or assembly of men, on the condition that they give up their rights to him and authorize all his action in like manner”.[21]

In this case, the security of the people that form the covenant depend on the existence of government which then has the power to punish the offenders. They also keep peace and curb man’s innately unsocial inclinations. For Hobbes, it was through this contract that men were united. They abandon some of their rights and appoint a coercive power, the sovereign, whose power is absolute. And since the sovereign can inflict death, people retreat from action that will impede the common good. What is decisive and significant in the attainment of peace is each man’s recognition. Peace cannot be possible if every one were guided by his own wishes and promptings. In the state of nature, there remains continually conflict of desire. Everyone looked at others with fear and suspicion. This situation is precisely that of war of all against all.

Law of nature are not themselves enough to keep the contract intact, for these laws of nature are only but dictates of reason and contrary to the strong natural passion of man. There is need to be a common power or an effective government able to enforce obedience in the subjects. And with such power, the unsocial inclination that is in man is reduced and peace is also achieved.             

Hobbes states the possible means whereby man can live at peace with another to enjoy the pleasure of collective life. This means is basically founded on the first and second principles of natural law by which all men endeavour to find peace and follow it. So the person giving out his right should understand that he is indirectly diminishing the impediment to use his natural rights. This given outrightly can be done in two ways: either by renouncing or by transferring it. One renounces his right when he cares not to whom the benefit goes, and transfers it when he intends the benefit for a person or group of persons of his consent. This transferring of right can be either by words or signs or both. Once a person transfers his right, he is obliged by it not to prevent those to whom the benefit goes neither will he stop those voluntary actions that yield the benefit because that is injurious and unjust.

According to Hobbes, no sane person can make a contract that contradicts his existence. For instance, one can make contracts if he fails to do this, let him be killed, but cannot make a contract that he would not resist arrest when a force is applied to him. Contract in itself is mutual transfer of right. When contract is made on trust, such that one performs his after wards, such contract based on trust is called covenant. He that receives the benefits keeps the promise.

Here, the recipient is obliged to fulfill the contract. And failure to do this is called infidelity and it disposes him to the consequences. If, however, he performs or fulfils his covenant, it is called keeping the promise. When a transfer of right is not mutual due to charity, magnanimity, or reputation, such transfer instead of being contract is a mere grace or free gift.

Signs of contract are either by express or by inference. It is express when the word directly expresses the intention of the contract to effect the transfer of his right immediately. Signs of inference are whatever sufficient argues. The will of the contract or to mean the transfer of such right can be a consequence of words, actions, or silence. Promises are no contracts, because they are not obligatory, and until they are fulfilled, they are in no sufficient signs and not obligatory.

Relating this to the state of nature, Hobbes held that covenant under the state of nature are mere words without force. It is only valid when people are made to keep their promises. Such positive end is realized only in the commonwealth where there is the sovereign power indispensable for a community. This covenant can be withdrawn in two ways without quarrels. When person is free from a covenant by performing it, this forms the natural end to it. Secondly, a person is free by being giving, that is, restitution of liberty.

In the state of nature, man’s anger, avarice, ambition, lust and other passion can be controlled only by appealing to the invincible power that binds on man through his religion, to what he worships as his god, and by reckoning to the visible power that is the civil authority whose power is also attributed to the divine power. The former, though stronger because it binds on all men, is yet less binding than the later, which impacts more fear on the people because of its punishment.

The second law of nature is also a rule, which men in their own interest ought to keep in the state of nature for the purpose of self-preservation. Anyone who renounces his right unless others do the same would be a simpleton, a fool and would pay dearly for his folly by placing himself at the mercy of others. He made himself a prey to others. But if he refuses to lay down his right when others were doing so, they would combine against him as an obstacle in the way of getting peace. This renunciation somehow creates the power, which makes it impossible for those who renounce their right to take them back again.

These rights conferred on the sovereign, were not weapons whose surrender gives overwhelming strength to whoever takes them. It is a grant of promise. If ten men promised to one another to obey an eleventh man, that man has no greater power over them than they have for each other, unless they keep the promise. It is not making promise by keeping them that gives him power. If they refuse to keep the promise, they will return to the state of nature. But if they keep the promise, then the sovereign will have power to carry the work they entrusted to him. It is only in this condition that the commonwealth is established.

2.3                THE COMMONWEALTH

Man naturally loves liberty. And since this is not obtainable in the state of nature, men continue to seek that which will help them to get themselves out from that miserable condition of war, which is necessarily consequent to natural passion of men.

Hobbes maintained that the strongest man is the man who has all the power of the state at his disposal. According to him;

The greatest human power is that which is compounded of the power of most men united by consent in one person, natural or civil that has the use of all power of a commonwealth”.[22]


With the terrible power that this commonwealth has, he punishes those that disobey the law, because the covenants without swords are but mere words.

The sovereign enjoys absolute authority over its members the subjects. All the subjects surrender all their rights to sovereign in such a manner as if every one should say to everyone I authorized and give up my right of governing myself.

If there is no power erected, or if it is not great enough for their security, everyman will just do as his conscience directs him. And this is the essence of this commonwealth because that plurality of individual are united in one person though not meaning that the multitude constitutes this person, but rather act on their behalf. Hobbes defines the essence of this commonwealth as;

One person of whose act a great multitude, by mutual covenant one with another, have made themselves everyone the author to the end he may use the strength and means of them all, as he should think expedient for their peace and common defense.[23]

Thus, absolution is instituted based practically on the unlimited power of the sovereign, over the members of the commonwealth. This contract is not as it is in Rousseau, between the people and their ruler, so that the later is at the command of his mandatory. Hobbes held rather to a contract not between the citizens alone, who agree among themselves to hand over their rights to the sovereign for the purpose of procuring peace. The commonwealth makes their agreement constant and lasting, which is a common power, to keep them in awe and direct their action to the common benefit. The only way to erect such a common power as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners and injuries of one another and secure them in such is by their own industries – that by fruit of earth that they may nourish themselves and live constantly is to confer all their rights, power and strength to one man or assembly of men. This man or men may reduce all their will by plurality of voice unto one will. All these they do for the common good, peace and safety.

Hobbes at all times maintained the distinction between the natural and artificial state. He also distinguished between commonwealth by acquisition, which is based on natural force, whether of the father or the conqueror, and commonwealth by institution, which comes in by voluntary subjection to elect government that is artificial. In the former, a man becomes a sovereign by subduing his will and children to his power. This type of sovereign is known as common wealth by acquisition. In this case, Hobbes opines: “To submit themselves and their children to his government as being able to destroy them if they refuse”.[24]

While other type of sovereign involves agreement amongst themselves to submit their right to one man or assembly of men voluntarily in confidence that their right order are to be protected by him against others. This type has political structure and it is called commonwealth by institution. A commonwealth is instituted when;

A multitude of men do agree, and covenant everyone with everyone, that to whatever man or assembly of men shall be given by the major parts the right to represent the person of them all”.[25]

In this case, the people surrender their right, will and power, to the sovereign whom they trusted that will protect them from their foreign enemies. Hobbes treats commonwealth by acquisition and says that it is where;

The sovereign’s power is acquired by grace and it acquired by force when men singly or man together by plurality of voices(sic) for fear of death or bound do authorized all the actions of that man or assembly of men that hath their lives and liberty in his power”. [26]

A good example of this is during war conquest or slave raid where people obey because of fear of being killed. Hobbes maintained that all commonwealths are founded on fear. He does not belittle the commonwealth, since he gives the human nature as a state of war all against all.

Hobbes, however, acknowledges three kinds of government, Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy whose vices are Tyranny, Oligarchy and Anarchy respectively. He preferred Monarchy to be the best system of government because it is undivided in nature, because if the sovereign consists of a group, then the group may have conflict within itself. Thus, the power of enforcement would be divided and instead of a peaceful society, conflict would break out again. Secondly, a single ruler has more secrecy of counsel. Large groups invariably develop leaks, and important information may filter down to the people again causing dimensions among them.

Hobbes did also acknowledge certain inconveniences from monarchy such as Flattery, but in spite of these odds, monarchy is yet better than others forms of government. Monarchy as a system of government advocated by Hobbes has a kind of absolution, which is being laid down upon the sovereign that operates on the commonwealth. In so far as the society depends on mutual trust among the subject, it is then necessary to explain how this is reasonably possible and it is this that brings Hobbes to the theory of sovereignty.

2.4                THE SOVEREIGNITY

Sovereignty according to Hobbes is the greatest subject’s representative. A multitude of men he says, are made one person, when they are one by one person distinct from other people, by being represented by one man or body of men. The power of this sovereign is absolute, irrevocable and all the subjects must obey his command. According to C.A Leads:

Sovereignty is located in that individual group or association which is obeyed without question by the rest of the people in a state. In abstraction term the state is sovereign by definition”. [27]

The essence of commonwealth is that one person of whose act a great multitude, by mutual covenant of one with another, have made themselves subject to the sovereign.

However, the idea of state requires this further concept of ultimate legal authority because no matter what forces or pressure have determined the context of a law only the sovereign power of the state can proclaim it as a law invest with dignity and prestige and support it with sanctions in order to secure observance. It is noteworthy that the word ‘sovereighty”is derived from sovereignty (king or monarch) .The early writings on sovereignty were developed in conjunction with the rise of the modern national state. Jean Bodin, a French support of strong monarchy, though not arbitrary despotism, define sovereign as “the supreme and perpetual power over the subject and their possessions unrestrained by positive law”.[28] Irrespective of the fact the uses the word absolute and unrestrained, he clearly contemplates limited, constitutional monarch rather than an absolute tyrant. He further held sovereignty as supreme power over citizens and subjects, unrestrained by law and to analyze the conception of supreme power. Theory of sovereignty was applied by Bodin also in his discussion of the subordinates’ parts of the state. In monarchy the function of parliament must be advisory. Similarly the power exercised by magistrates is delegated by the sovereign.

Again all the co-operate bodies which exist within the state says religious bodies, municipalities and commercial companies, own their power and privilege to the will of the sovereign. The subject of a sovereign power, Hobbes contended had no right of rebellion, because, this right had been transferred to the sovereign when the covenant wee made. And such right, when transferred to the sovereign when the covenant were made .And such right, when transferred, grants the sovereign unlimited right over the subject who are bound to submit or consent to the will of the sovereign. The subjects need not to make other covenant besides the one made with the sovereign; no covenant may be made with god directly. Anyone who acts contrary to the sovereign’s opinion, rejects the general Opinion and, hence, is liable to destruction bearing in mind that the action of the sovereign is in one way or the other one’s own action even though it is for the execution of oneself. The sovereign is free from all laws and punishments.  In every independent community, or state government by law, there must be some authority of a person whereby the laws themselves are established and from which they proceed.

The word sovereign denotes supreme and final legal authority, above and beyond which no further legal power exists. Hobbes argued that the absence of supreme authority, there would be chaos. He assures that people cannot settle their disagreement by rational discussion and by mutual consideration for each other point of view. In Hobbes opinion, it is by the centralization of authority in the person of sovereign that evil, which he particularly dread namely civil war can be avoided. The sovereign is beyond good and evil. He is law to himself. The power is not negotiable. The sovereign cannot turn his obedience to another and he cannot be accused by the subject. Hobbes held that the sovereign’s power must be absolute- that the sovereign power whether placed in one man, as in monarch or in one assembly of men. In his concept of human nature as completely and exclusively egoistic, he depicts man as being by nature entirely selfish and devoid of any genuine feelings of sympathy, benevolence or sociability. Each individual is preoccupied exclusively with gratification of his own desires and his success in maintaining a continuous flow of gratification in the measure of his happiness. He maintained that man in the state of nature, are approximately equal in their physical and mental power, under this condition intensive competition eliminate virtually all chances for an individual to achieve happiness and what is more serious threaten his very survival.

The will of a sovereign power whose authority is absolute and indivisible constitutes the only law by which man’s behaviour can be properly regulated. Morality then is based upon law- the law of absolute sovereign. The subjects are forced to obey the law, which they themselves agreed upon to obey, since they conferred their rights to the sovereign.

The purpose of which sovereign authority is created is necessary in the state because the subjects fears its punishment and obey the laws of the state. But if the right of subjects fears its punishment and obey the laws of the state. But if the rights of subjects are not protected by sovereign, it then means that the aim of establishing the covenant is defeated, since its purpose is for self preservation. We shall now see how these rights are protected by the sovereign and also see if there is any other right fort the subject after conferring his rights to the sovereign.

Plato’s Class Distinction: The Backdrop Of Contemporary Education

Plato’s Class Distinction: The Backdrop Of Contemporary Education


                                                GENERAL BACKGROUND

  • Plato’s Background.

Plato was born at Athens in 428BC into a distinguished Aristocratic family. His birth coincided with the era of the Periclean democracy when Athens was at its peak in culture and learning. The greatness of Athens before this time dates back to when Athens, under Cleisthenes, defeated the Persians in battle. By the Continue reading Plato’s Class Distinction: The Backdrop Of Contemporary Education

A Critique On Freudian Psycho sexual Enlightenment Of The Child

A Critique On Freudian Psycho sexual Enlightenment Of The Child




In the annals of history, sex has remained a mystery to both man and the society at large. Its importance in human life is so evident, yet no single human being has been able to give a conclusive explanation of what sex is. No human experience has been able to demystify the hidden meanings of this particular concept. Freud rightly asserts that, “the misunderstanding of sexuality is no intellectual error, nor an accidental ignorance”.[1] Continue reading A Critique On Freudian Psycho sexual Enlightenment Of The Child

Philosophical Appraisal On The Igbo Traditional System Of Child Upbringing

A Philosophical Appraisal On The Igbo Traditional System Of Child Upbringing, Vis-À-Vis The Contemporary System



There seems to be universal law of preservation and conservation in nature.  Rock, seas, minerals, plants, animals and man; all endure because of this universal law of nature.  For instance, animals of both higher and lower species that breach this natural law risk extinction, as the other animals will prey on them.  Hence, all species, genus, genders, classes and families preserve their Continue reading Philosophical Appraisal On The Igbo Traditional System Of Child Upbringing

A Philosophical Examination Of The Nigerian Religious Experience:Andre Godin’s Ideas

A Philosophical Examination Of The Nigerian Religious Experience In The Light Of Andre Godin’s Ideas


1.0          INTRODUCTION

Majority of the humans in the world are born into one religion or the other.[1] The environment in which we live is densely religious. As a result, one starts to hear, see and touch things about God very early in life. In the market, on the road, even in drinking houses you see and hear people talk about God. Even when you are in your house a loud speaker is at your window telling you about God. Continue reading A Philosophical Examination Of The Nigerian Religious Experience:Andre Godin’s Ideas

Zik’s Neo-Welfarism: A Viable Option For The Nigerian State

Zik’s Neo-Welfarism: A Viable Option For The Nigerian State.


1.0          INTRODUCTION


This thesis springs from a genuine sense of patriotism to fashion a way forward for my beloved country. It is rather remarkable at this time there seem to be little incentive for patriotic concerns since the state had neglected to play its part on the unwritten social contract with its citizens. Achebe captures the scene very aptly, “when two Nigerians meet, their conversation will sooner or later slide into a litany of our national deficiencies.”[1] Continue reading Zik’s Neo-Welfarism: A Viable Option For The Nigerian State