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Political Philosophy and Paine Essay

1. Why do you think Thomas Paine writes Common Sense anonymously? How does he think his work will be remembered? Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense anonymously because the ideas he used in writing the book were contradicting the government at that time. If the government knew that he wrote it then they will take action against him to punish him. He probably thought that his work would remain as something memorable such as it was only there to raise the spirit of the colonist to fight back and to stand up against the government. 2. According to Paine, what is the difference between society and government?

Paine states that society and government are completely different in purpose and also different in origin. Society is created innocently for the people’s happiness although the government is poison but necessary product made by desires of people to support people’s happiness by forcefully restraining desires of people themselves. 3. What is the meaning of ‘liberty’ in Paine’s thought? Equality? What is the relationship between the two? The meaning of liberty in Paine’s thought was the state of being free within society from cruel limits enforced by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.

He described equality as the state of being equal in positions, rights, and opportunities. The relationship between the two is that they work hand-in-hand because everyone should have equal rights. 4. According to Paine, why is there a need for regulations and government in general? According to Paine, it is a necessary evil for two reasons. The first reason is for security and freedom, things that everyone wants, are the true intention and end of government. The second reason is a moral asset which is the foundation of society, but it’s incapable of governing.

In other words government is inevitable, because it is there to supply the defect of moral asset. 5. Why does Paine consider the English monarchy to be ineffective? Paine considered the monarchy in particular to be ineffective because the king is not informed enough to match his power, he naturally will thirst for more and more power, he can ignore the people’ voices and more importantly, he doesn’t and sometimes, is incapable of making sure his words comes to the people exactly same as he meant them to be. 6. What is the view of Gideon that Paine uses as an example?

“As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty” (Gideon). From this quote of Gideon, we can assume Gideon’s point of views. He thinks that all men are equal and no one man can be above the rest. He also thinks that only God can rule over people. 7. What does Paine think that America will gain by separating from England? According to Paine, America will gain by separating from England is that it would not get contaminated by the monarchy he has been criticizing.

Then, America will gain wealth and most importantly it will gain independence. 8. Describe Thomas Paine’s life and background, including where he is originally from and what his reputation was before, during, and after writing Common Sense. On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England. His father had grand visions for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school. The young Paine began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. So, by 1768 he found himself as a tax officer in England.

Thomas didn’t exactly excel at the role, getting discharged from his post twice in four years. In 1774, by happenstance, he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who helped him immigrate to Philadelphia. Then in 1776, he published Common Sense. 9. What is Paine’s argument based on? What intellectual movement and why? Paine’s argument is mostly based on things that everyone in the colony would consider common sense. The intellectual part about the concept is that even though he demonstrated a great length of knowledge, he made it look like his knowledge is even with the colonists.

The reason for that is he really wanted the colonists to believe that the book is written by but someone among the colonists. That way, it is much easier to move the colonists’ spirit. 10. What is the role, for Paine, of the wars in Europe on American independence? His role is to remind them and clear their desire to live a life without great changes so that they can stand up and fight for their own lives. Paine’s role in the wars was not that of a leader but a reminder of the people’s cause. Because of Paine, people started to remember to stand up and fight back for their rights.

11. How does Paine argue the opposing point of independence? How does he counter the “reconciliationists”? Paine explains why the current time is a good time to break free of Britain. Primarily, Paine focuses on the present size of the colonies, and on their current capabilities. He presents an inventory of the British Navy and gives calculations revealing how America could build a navy of comparable size. Paine recommends this as a way of ensuring America’s security and prosperity in trade. Paine also argues that America is sufficiently small as to be united now. 12.

List the reasons why Paine thinks independence is necessary. What is “the most powerful of all arguments” for independence? Paine thinks independence because England is violently oppressive in way that it’s exploiting America for the good of England. Being a part of the British Empire will inevitably involve America in unnecessary imperial conflicts. And the most powerful of all arguments is that England is too far away to govern America effectively, even if it wanted to. 13. Paine begins his analysis from the state of nature. What is the rhetorical function of this?

What political goals does this serve? What role does nature have in Paine’s thinking? Nature does not sanction division of men into Kings and Subjects. It is only customary. The State of Nature as tool of criticism because a government must not make things worse than they are in the State of Nature if they are to deserve compliance. 14. For Paine, what is the relationship between law and liberty? Paine begins this section by making a distinction between society and government, and then goes on to consider the relationship between government and society in a state of “natural liberty”.

He next tells a story of a few isolated people living in nature without government, and explains that the people find it easier to live together rather than apart; thus, they create a society. As the society grows, problems arise, and the people meet to make regulations in order to mitigate the problems. As the society continues to grow, a government becomes necessary to enforce these regulations, which over time, turn into laws 15. According to Common Sense, what is the basis of just government? According to Common Sense the basis of just government are Freedom, Happiness, and Efficiency 16.

What point is Paine making when he argues, “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America”? How does he use the national origins of English monarchs to show that the colonists’ English origins are irrelevant to the decision they now face? By grounding political authority in reason, Paine is able to make a persuasive argument undermining the foundations of British government, which is based in tradition, religion, and custom. 17. How does Paine reject the arguments of “men of passive tempers” who wish for reconciliation with Britain?

Paine says that as a colony of Britain, America lacks respectability on the international scene. They are seen simply as rebels, and cannot form substantial alliances with other nations. In order to prosper in the long term, the colonies need to be independent 18. How does Paine answer the question, “Where is the king of America”? Paine answers this question by stating he reigns above in America, and the law is king. 19. How does Paine reject the argument that the colonies have “flourished” as members of the British Empire?

What was Britain’s true motive in defending the colonies, and what does this motive reveal about the relationship between the two? Paine states that America has flourished under British rule, and therefore ought to stay under the king, Paine says that such an argument fails to realize that America has evolved and no longer needs Britain’s help. Some say that Britain has protected America, and therefore deserves allegiance, but Paine responds that Britain has only watched over America in order to secure its own economic well-being.

20. What did you learn from reading this assignment? What is your opinion of the work? The first thing that I learn from the assignment is the importance fighting back because Paine’s ideas were inspiring and knowledgeable and also that this was an important event for US history. In my opinion, the book common sense was by far one of the greatest historical books. Thomas Paine writing style is both fanatical and graceful, demonstrating Paine’s disgust, rage and passion without having to degrade his social status.


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