How Did the State Emerge? Emergence of the State

How Did the State Emerge? Emergence of the State

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

How did the state arise? Under what conditions did the state emerge? What are the theories explaining the emergence of the state? All these questions are issues that political philosophy discusses.

Individual consciences cannot ensure the order in the society formed by individuals. Because conscience has no power of coercion and sanction. Therefore, there is a need for rules, laws, and a supra-institutional theory that will apply them, regulating the needs and desires, relationships and rights of individuals in social life.

According to this, the state is a social organization equipped with a political organization (government) whose purpose is to ensure social order, justice and the well-being of society, based on a community of people settled on a particular piece of land and having ultimate legitimate control over everything on that land.

In the history of philosophy, many definitions and ideas have been put forward about what the state is and where it originates from. For example, while Friedrich Hegel defined the state as the “guarantee of freedoms”, Jean-Jacques Rousseau defined it as “the product of the social will”.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“What is the state?” After making these explanations about the question of the state, let’s move on to another important question of political philosophy about the emergence of the state: “How did the state come into existence?”

Regarding this question, two different views have been put forward, claiming that the state is a continuation of nature and an artificial entity throughout the history of thought.

1. The Argument that the State is a Natural Entity (The State is a Natural Entity)

According to this understanding, the state, which is a continuation of the order in nature, is like other living things, it is a large organism, a natural entity. Representatives of this thought are Plato, Aristotle, Farabi and Ibn Khaldun.

Plato (427-347 BC)

According to him, there is a great similarity between man and the state. The state is a large-scale living organism. Some faculties (nutrition, will, mind) in humans appear as social classes (people-worker, soldier, administrator).

The working class corresponds to the human instinct for nourishment, the protective class (soldiers, warriors) to will and courage, and the ruling class (philosophers) to reason. In this sense, the state has emerged as a continuation of nature and has a human appearance.

According to Plato, man’s inability to be self-sufficient caused him to need others. For this reason, people gathered together to help each other and thus formed the society-state.

Aristotle (384-322 BC)

According to him, the state is a continuation of nature and an organic entity that emerges depending on the nature of man.

Farabi (870-950)

According to him, all people need to help each other and be together in order to meet their needs. For this reason, Farabi says that man is a “social and political creature”.

One of the purposes of people living in groups is to realize competence in terms of individuals. Since competence and competence are possible with a civilized lifestyle, families, villages; It is a natural necessity for villages to turn to cities and cities to the state.

Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)

According to him, society emerged because people needed each other. However, the state was established to protect people from the attacks and oppression of other people in the society.

Man has an animal side as well as a social side. The state, which has supreme authority, is a weapon that protects man against this animal aspect it has with the laws it has determined. Thus, for people, the state emerges as a natural necessity.

2. The Argument that the State is an Artificial Being (The State is an Artificial Being)

According to this understanding, the state creates the society and the state by reconciling people among themselves. Its representatives are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and J. J. Rousseau.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1697)

People, who are each other’s wolf in their natural state, wanted to put an end to turmoil and war and live in safety by transferring their rights and freedoms to a superior entity, namely the state, with a contract.

This desire of the common will (contract) has led to the emergence of the state as an artificial institution. In order to fulfill this request, the state must be equipped with unlimited authority.

Statue of John Locke at Trinity College.
John Locke (1632-1704)

Like Hobbes, he bases the establishment of society on the social contract. But, like Hobbes, he does not see the state as a power with absolute sovereignty. He argues that the power of the government should be limited, for this he put forward the principle of “separation of powers”.

The state is only a tool in the realization of the aims of the society that founded it. Since the state is the result of a contract, it will also have the approval of the governed.

Since this political power was established to protect the right to property, its abolition is unthinkable. Otherwise, the legitimacy of political authority will disappear. For this, political power needs to be limited.