One of the most important foundations of Hobbes political philosophy is his reasoning for the importance of government. Hobbes argues that without the presence of government human life would be unbearable, in fact he even goes as far as to say that without government we would live a life of everlasting war with one another. In this paper I will support Hobbes’ claims as to why government is vital, I will also compare Hobbes’ description of the state of nature to the state of the world today.
Hobbes believes that in the state of nature there is a perpetual war of all against all. This perpetual state of war is driven by felicity, the continual success of satisfying human desires. According to Hobbes humans are driven by desires; humans naturally seek that which will benefit them. “There is no such thing as perpetual tranquility of mind while we live here; because life itself is but Motion and can never be without Desire” (Leviathan 129-30). Humans are naturally concerned with themselves, and most importantly with self-preservation. However, Hobbes believes that in a state of nature that which is required for self-preservation will be limited. For that reason there is no such thing as trust in the state of nature. Under these conditions it is rational to believe that whatever you are seeking others are seeking as well. Hobbes argues the state of nature is not violent because humans are cruel, but rather because humans are seeking defense for their preservation (Wolff 12). While people may not always be fighting in the state of nature there is always anticipation for conflict. Since everyone is uncertain about their safety, they are required to fight, as a result all others are also logically required to fight. Hobbes states t...
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...unavoidable circumstance for human beings because collective rationality is also available. The only problem with collective rationality is that humans tend to stray from collective rational behavior in order to pursue individual ambition. Agreements are insignificant in the state of nature since there is no guarantee that humans will act as promised. However, Hobbes suggest that a solution to this is a sovereign who will enact strict penalties against anyone who violates these laws.
Overall Hobbes believes that a state without government is a state fueled with distrust and war, where people will fight for power, gain, safety and reputation. In the state of nature life is a self-propelling war powered by fear. ThSe only way to reach a state of peace, according to Hobbes is to work in unity under a sovereign who will punish those who stray from the Laws of Nature.
He states that, “Every one with every one...Shall be given by the major part, the right to present the person of them all” (Hobbes  2013). Thus, a democratic form of governance is beginning to emerge, and the responsibility of the sovereign is to form laws that avoid returning to a state of nature. Essentially, Hobbes presents a way of government that appears optimal, and capable of lasting a long term. The elected sovereign is not to be overthrown because through the unanimous decision of members of the state the sovereign was chosen, and maintain authority through deliverance of suitable laws (Hobbes  2013). Thus, citizens are more likely to comply with this form of government because they maintain the impression that their sovereign only looks out for their best interests, as well as recognizes what is best for them because he was chosen to be in
ABSTRACT: I want to show the importance of the notion of conatus (endeavor) for Hobbes' political philosophy. According to Hobbes, all motion of bodies consists of elementary motions he called 'endeavors.' They are motions 'made in less space and time than can be given,' and they obey the law of persistence or inertia. A body strives to preserve its state and resist the causal power of other bodies. I call this the conatus-principle. Hobbes' argument for social contract and sovereign is based essentially on this model. He proves that the natural conatus makes people (i) strive to preserve their lives and therefore to get out of the destructive state of nature; (ii) commit to mutual contracts; (iii) keep the contracts unless some external cause otherwise determines; and (iv) establish a permanent sovereign power that Hobbes calls 'an artificial eternity of life.' All this is determined by the fundamental laws of nature, essentially, by the conatus-principle. I also show that the Prisoner's Dilemma interpretation of the Hobbesian state of nature does not represent all of the essential features of Hobbes' argument.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are comparable in their basic political ideologies about man and their rights in the state of nature before they enter a civil society. Their political ideas are very much similar in that regard. The resemblance between Hobbes and Locke’s philosophies are based on a few characteristics of the state of nature and the state of man. Firstly, in the state of nature both Hobbes and Locke agree that all men are created equal, but their definitions of equality in the state of nature slightly differ. According to Locke, “…in the state of nature… no one has power over another…” Locke’s version or idea of equality in the state of nature is based around the equality of authority and control. Each man has the authority to judge and punish themselves, but they do not have “…license to abuse others…” On the other hand, Hobbes’ definition of equality is based around the equality of man physically and mentally because “Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of the body and mind…” Nevertheless, the natural equality in both Hobbes and Locke’s states of nature contribute to man’s urge and want to join a civil society.
To understand Hobbes’s argument for why the State of Nature is a State of War it is important to understand Hobbes’s meanings of the terms State of Nature and State of War. The State of Nature is the condition where mankind is forced in contact with one another in a society where there is no authority to enforce power or laws. In this state, the lack of authority encompasses the lack of political institutions and the connotations associated with them: no national allegiances and no punishment. All men in this state have the right to any actions, even to harm one another and none of these actions are unjust. The resulting atmosphere created by this Sate of Nature is the State of War where all rational people live in constant fear of violent and brutish attacks. The State of War is a state of uncertainty and insecurity. It does not always necessarily consist of actual fighting but instead consists of the constant awareness that everyone is ready to fight everyone else. To substantiate his argument that the State of Nature is a Sate of War he relies on three assumptions.
Hobbes theorizes what humanity would be like in the state of nature, “where every man is enemy to every man”. The state of nature is also a state of war because without the security that comes from the mutual exchange of human rights, every human is essentially living in fear of everyone else. There would be no laws to
Hobbes views human nature as the war of each man against each man. For Hobbes, the essence of human nature can be found when we consider how man acts apart from any government or order. Hobbes describes the world as “a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man.” (Hobbes mp. 186) In such a world, there are “no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Hobbes mp. 186) Hobbes believes that laws are what regulate us from acting in the same way now. He evidences that our nature is this way by citing that we continue to lock our doors for fear of theft or harm. Hobbes gives a good argument which is in line with what we know of survivalism, and evidences his claim well. Hobbes claims that man is never happy in having company, unless that company is utterly dominated. He says, “men have no pleasure, (but on the contrary a great dea...
Hobbes’ Leviathan and Locke’s Second Treatise of Government comprise critical works in the lexicon of political science theory. Both works expound on the origins and purpose of civil society and government. Hobbes’ and Locke’s writings center on the definition of the “state of nature” and the best means by which a society develops a systemic format from this beginning. The authors hold opposing views as to how man fits into the state of nature and the means by which a government should be formed and what type of government constitutes the best. This difference arises from different conceptions about human nature and “the state of nature”, a condition in which the human race finds itself prior to uniting into civil society. Hobbes’ Leviathan goes on to propose a system of power that rests with an absolute or omnipotent sovereign, while Locke, in his Treatise, provides for a government responsible to its citizenry with limitations on the ruler’s powers.
In sophisticated prose, Hobbes manages to conclude that human beings are all equal in their ability to harm each other, and furthermore that they are all capable of rendering void at will the covenants they had previously made with other human beings. An absolutist government, according to Hobbes, would result in a in a society that is not entirely focused on self-preservation, but rather a society that flourishes under the auspices of peace, unity, and security. Of all the arguably great philosophical discourses, Hobbes in particular provides one of the surest and most secure ways to live under a sovereign that protects the natural liberties of man. The sovereign government is built upon the idea of stability and security, which makes it a very intriguing and unique government indeed. The aforementioned laudation of Hobbes and his assertions only helps to cement his political theories at the forefront of the modern
In this essay, I will present three reasons as to why the absolute authority of the sovereign in Hobbes’s state of nature and social contract is justified. The three reasons Hobbes uses are: the argument from contract, the argument from authorisation and the argument from weakness of mixed or divided sovereignty. Firstly, I shall explain Hobbes’s understanding of human nature and the natural condition of humanity which causes the emergence of the social contract. I shall then analyse each argument for the absolute authority of the sovereign being justified. I shall then consider possible objections to Hobbes’s argument. I shall then show why Hobbes’s argument is successful and the absolute authority of the sovereign is justified.
Hobbes has a more pessimistic conception of the state of nature, whereas Locke believed humans living in a state of nature could be relatively peaceful and have many benefits, this is the first and most notable difference in their versions. The extremity of Hobbes’ state of nature is characterized as a state of war. He proclaimed that life within the State of Nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Leviathan, 186), because of three main principles: equality, scarcity, and uncertainty. Equality means that all people are roughly equal in power, and those who suffer a weakness in one respect can make up for it in another. However, we are all equal with respect to our pursuit of resources and those resources are scarce, so people will do whatever it takes to get those resources for themselves. Since resources are limited we are in a constant state of
The constant state of war is what Hobbes believes to be man’s original state of nature. According to Hobbes, man cannot be trusted in the state of nature. War among men is consequent and nothing can be unjust. Notions of justice and injustice or right and wrong will not hav...
����������� Thomas Hobbes is an important political and social philosopher. He shares his political philosophy in his work Leviathan. Hobbes begins by describing the state of nature, which is how humans coped with one another prior to the existence of government. He explains that without government, �the weakest has the strength to kill the strongest� (Hobbes 507). People will do whatever it takes to further their own interests and protect their selves; thus, creating a constant war of �every man against every man� (Hobbes 508). His three reasons for people fighting amongst each other prior to government include �competition,� �diffidence,� and �glory� (Hobbes 508). He explains how men fight to take power over other people�s property, to protect them selves, and to achieve fame. He describes life in the state of nature as being �solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short� (Hobbes 508). Hobbes goes on to say that if men can go on to do as they please, there will always be war. To get out of this state of nature, individuals created contracts with each other and began to form a government.
The main critics of Thomas Hobbes’ work are most often those with a more optimistic view of human nature. However, if one is to really look at a man’s actions in depth, a self-serving motivation can always be found. The main problem with Hobbes’ claims is that he does not account for the more Darwinian perspective that helping one’s own species survive is at the same time a selfish and unwar-like act. Thus his conclusion that without a governing body, we are essentially at war with one another is not completely true as years of evolution can help disprove.
In the excerpt, Hobbes expresses that, justice is impossible in the state of nature in reference to human nature. According to Hobbes, justice can exist as long as every individual has the right of self-preservation. In these texts, self-preservation is defined as the "individual having the liberty to do anything in order to preserve and protect his own life, regardless of the consequences to others". Because we are naturally wicked in Hobbes opinion, the absence of a social contract or any laws to control our right of nature, individuals can kill one another for the sake of protecting their own life and the cycle will continue when in constant conflict with everyone else.
Thus, Hobbes asserts that societies are not natural and that men are not social and/or political animal. He argues that political communities and states are not natural. The state, according to Hobbes, is just a way for men to live with other men and escape a state of nature in which he lives in perpetual fear of death. Thus, the state of nature is one of extreme individualism. Hobbes argues that all men are equal in the way that any man can kill another man. There is a war for the acquisition of limited resources and since all men are considered equal, each person can hope to get what he wants. However, this “equality” creates competition since when two people both want the same thing, the opposing parties become enemies. This can be see in Chapter 13 of Leviathan when Hobbes asserts that “every man is an enemy to every man” (87). Hobbes continues in that same paragraph to claim that sometimes, men may come together to achieve a common goal but this association in not motivated by cooperation, but out of self-interest. Each man is hoping to gain something out of this relationship. Therefore, the alliance is not real since each individual is driven by self-interest and there is no way to enforce whatever agreement the parties involved have agreed upon. Additionally, each man still fears the other as there is no guarantee that the