Essay about Thomas Hobbes' State of Nature in Leviathan

Essay about Thomas Hobbes' State of Nature in Leviathan

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For centuries, political theory was dominated by the idea that people are not equal. This idea that some were good for some things and not for others massively shaped the theories that grew from them. However, in Thomas Hobbes Leviathan we see a departure from this inequality. The argument of people being equal and the state of man that he develops from that belief are central not only to his own theory but to the world of political science today. It is his examination of people being equal, followed by the state of nature and war, and finally his look at various laws of nature that lead a natural path to his political solution.
Hobbes assertion that all people are equal is no small departure from past political philosophy. It indeed is so revolutionary that some of those that follow Hobbes will assert that various races or genders are of a higher standard innately. Hobbes however says, "Nature hath made men so equall, in the faculties of body, and mind; as that though there bee found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind then another, yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himselfe any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he." (Hobbes & Macpherson, 1968, p. 183). It is admittedly confusing that he chooses to use clearly gendered language throughout the text. However, aside from this word choice there is no clear indication that he means this to be a gendered statement. In fact, he is quite clear in his sections on parental authority that a man and a woman are equal. It is easy to extend this thought to the point of saying that he believes that all people and not all men are equal. This fa...


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...ially extensions of humans then the only way to prevent war is to make the existence of no more than one commonwealth. And while this is to some a terrifying thought, it is a beautiful logic that Hobbes puts forth. In moving from a state of equality to his laws of nature one can not only see how he arrives to the conclusion that he does but also how some of these laws would create a more progressive system than even our modern world has provided us with. A part of the genius of so many philosophers is that their philosophy allows for progress and implication they themselves may not have seen or intended. While this often times is a double-edged sword, there is no denying that Hobbes ideas of equality are revolutionary for not only his time but for hundreds of years after.


Works Cited

Hobbes, T., & Macpherson, C. B. (1968). Leviathan. London, England: Penguin Books.

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