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The State Of Nature Is A State Of War

1484 words - 6 pages

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.
The first assumption is that nature has created man to be equal in their capacity to use their body and mind. With equal capacities in body, every man is vulnerable to attack from every other man and no single man has a superior advantage. For Hobbes this bolsters his claim that there is no man in the State of Nature with the power to maintain authority. Hobbes’s second assumption is that man has three principal desires, which drive conflict. These desires are competition, diffidence, and glory. All three of these desires involve man being involved in situations where only one man can come out victorious. For Hobbes these desires perpetuate the cycle of fear and violent attacks that lead to the State of War. The third assumption is that man has the logic required to plan for the future. Through man’s futuristic thought comes the ability to anticipate the actions of other men, which create fear since man can never know what might happen if he does not pre-emptively strike first. Thus for Hobbes we are stuck in a State of War because man is equal in strength and mind, man’s principle desires and man’s ability to plan.
In order to avoid this State of War, Hobbes dictates that a sovereign state must be created with absolute power given through the cessation of the rights from the sovereign’s subjects. Hobbes main argument for absolute power is that a sovereign with the most power is the type of sovereign most likely to successfully have the capabilities to avoid a State of Nature. Once the sovereign has the rights of every individual it now has the authority to carry out the will of the population as a whole. In return for giving up their rights, the sovereign provides the subjects now with protection and security from both the subjects within the sovereign and from other nations. A sovereign nation’s decision to attack is a reflection of the subject’s morals. What then comes from...

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