To What Extent Is Conservatism a Philosophy of Imperfection?

1675 Words Feb 16th, 2016 7 Pages
Conservatism does not have one single viewpoint or stance on human nature or imperfection as Conservatism as a whole encompasses different strands or beliefs within it. For example One Nation conservatives have a different philosophy on human imperfection than New Right conservatives do. One Nation conservatives hold the belief that we as humans are: greedy and have a limited capacity for altruism, a complex mix of emotions and contradictory motivations making us irrational, not totally consistent and are at balance the majority of the time with corruption. They believe that our inherent imperfect human nature stems from original sin, the Christian Belief. This shows a wholesome negative outlook on human nature. The New Right on the other …show more content…
This means that essentially they crave social order ahead of liberty. This way of prioritising social order over liberty is a view also taken by Thomas Hobbes in his work Leviathan, in which he talks of the sacrifice of but a few rights for the assurance of protection from the government. In this way, human imperfection can be seen to link to the other conservative concepts of Hierarchy and Authority – because of the fact that humans are inherently imperfect, they need a structured hierarchy to protect them and keep them in line. Conservatives, in this way believe in strong punishment as it can act as a deterrent to others doing the same crime. A structured hierarchy, protecting citizens and individuals lower down the chain link to the conservative theory of the ‘noblesse oblige’ which is where the rich or those higher up have a social obligation to help the less well off. Similarly Conservatives also believe that some are natural leaders, like those in positions of power, and some are inferior as a result of their imperfect qualities and are therefore not worthy of being a leader.

Secondly, traditional conservatism holds close the belief that we are morally flawed, which again is a highly pessimistic view of human nature. Thomas Hobbes was also in support of this idea, deeming humans to be innately selfish and greedy with not possibility of being perfectible. He can be quoted as saying we want ‘power after power’, meaning that once we

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