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Monarchy

Naturalism

More mundane explanations of a monarch's authority emerge out of images and analogies drawn from nature. In many cultural traditions, the ruling position of the head (or sometimes the heart) in the human body is regarded as an analogue of the monarch. Royal dominion is thus licensed by or in accordance with the observable natural world. One finds this position evinced in East and South Asian writings, such as the Arthashastra of Kautilya (fl. late 300s B.C.E.), as well as in Western thought from antiquity through modern times. Alternatively, the supposed dominance of a single leader in the nonhuman organic world (such as among bees or other social creatures) has often been taken as a sign of a natural order subordinate to monarchy. Even the arrangement of the cosmos and the movements of the stars and planets are found to support the monarchic principle.

Perhaps the most widespread naturalistic justification for monarchy, however, is its supposed imitation of the organization of the family. Monarchic government is directly authorized by the presence in the typical family of a father or other male head whose responsibility is to care and provide for all the other members of the household. The rest of the family is expected in turn to submit without question to the superior authority of the father. Confucius insisted that filial piety constituted the quintessential basis of all forms of social relationships, extending as far as the people's obedience to the king. This view enjoyed considerable currency through East Asia well into modern times. Likewise, European authors such as Jean Bodin (1530?–1596) and Sir Robert Filmer (d. 1653) advanced one or another form of the patriarchal thesis.

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