Leviathan By Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan, during the course of his argument about the
social contract we make to surrender our rights of nature a sovereign in
exchange for order and peace touches the subject of liberty. Hobbes defines
liberty as "the absence of opposition( by opposition, I mean external
impediments of motion)." (Ch 21, p.136). In his argument, Hobbes claims that
this state of liberty is manís natural state in which man fully exercises his
rights of nature. Hobbes claims that this state of nature leads to warfare and a
short life of strife due to everyone exercising or violating these rights. The
answer then to Hobbes is for every one to forfeit these rights of nature and
create the social contract and surrender to a sovereign in exchange for order.

Though how much liberty is left to the subject once entering the social
contract? Hobbes states "The liberty of a subject lieth, therefore, only in
those things which, in regulating their actions, the sovereign hath
praetermitted (such as is the liberty to buy, and sell, and and otherwise
contract with one another; to choose their own abode, their own diet, their own
trade of life, and institute their children as the themselves think fit; and the
like)." (Ch21, p. 138). In other words the only liberty of subjects is that
which is not regulated by any law created by the sovereign to whom all natural
rights and liberty are surrendered to by agreeing to the social contract.

According to the quote subjects are only free to conduct personal business as
see fit, such as eating, sleeping, day to day business dealing, how one chooses
to upbringing their children. It implies that upon entering the social contract
the subjectís liberty or unrestricted movement is now forfeited except in any
area that the sovereign has not decided to regulate by passing laws regulate or
is impossible to. Hobbes overall argument asserts that in order to escape the
war filled state of nature we must surrender our natural rights(liberty/absence
of restriction) and liberty and pledge our obedience to the sovereign in
exchange for the creation of a peaceful orderly society. Thus we agree to the
social contract where the sovereign(who is outside the contract) is supreme.

While we give up our liberty in exchange for order, the Sovereign retains all
his rights to nature and is accountable only to God. Why does the sovereign
retain his liberty, while we only retain that which the sovereign has decided
not to regulate? because the sovereign uses his liberty to act on our behalf. We
in theory are the author of every action decided by the sovereign who in theory
acts only in our interest because it would benefit the sovereign to do so.