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John C Calhoun A Disquisition on Government 1848 selections The Nature of Man and the Origin of Government According to Calhoun to understand the nature of government one must also understand the nature of its creator man He begins by asking What is that constitution or law of our nature without which government would not exist and with which its existence is necessary In answering this question Calhoun makes two assumptions First man is a social being whose physical and moral inclinations and wants lead him to associate with his fellow man Second some form of government must exist in mans social state Calhoun offers as proof of this second assumption that no society has ever been found without some form of government Calhoun next asks What is that constitution of our nature which while it impels man to associate with his kind renders it impossible for a society to exist without government He contends that even though man is a social creature who feels the wants and needs of others in his community at the same time mans stronger inclination is to feel what affects him directly Calhoun avoids using the word selfish because it implies an unusual excess of the individual over his social feelings Calhoun believes mans individual feelings are stronger Calhoun goes on to say that since man is so constituted that government is necessary to the existence of society and society is essential to the existence of man and the perfection of his faculties that government has its origin in this two-fold constitution of mans nature Social feelings constitute the remote cause and individual feelings the proximate cause of government If man had evolved differently then government would not be necessary However government itself has a strong tendency to disorder and abuse of its powers as evidenced by history This is because government is administered by men in whom the individual feelings are stronger
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