Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan Essay

1035 words - 4 pages

A state of nature is a hypothetical state of being within a society that defines such a way that particular community behaves within itself. English philosopher Thomas Hobbes proclaimed that, “A state of nature is a state of war.” By this, Hobbes means that every human being, given the absence of government or a contract between other members of a society, would act in a war-like state in which each man would be motivated by desires derived solely with the intention of maximizing his own utility.
     He claims that acts of kindness, charity and benevolence are always actions that the performer believes will result in a beneficial consequence for himself. Hobbes’ basis for this argument lies in the concept of reason. He writes that human beings are logical creatures and unlike other animals, use reason to make all of their decisions (Leviathan 2, 17). A law dictated by reason that will benefit a man is called a law of nature. Hobbes lists three fundamental laws of nature that promote the primary motivation of men, which is self-preservation.
Hobbes believes that all men are equal insofar as that the weakest man has the power to kill the strongest man. Thus given that every man is vulnerable to any other man, all men have a very strong desire to escape the state where killing each other is acceptable, escape the state of nature. This can be done, simply put by endeavoring peace which coupled with not making war except to defend oneself, is the first law of nature (Leviathan 1, 14).
The second law of nature is derived directly from the first. It insists that man lay down his right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men liberty against himself,” (Leviathan 1, 14). Essentially, in the state of nature, a man has a right to all things. By following this second law of nature, a man gives up certain rights in hopes that other men do the same in pursuit of peace with one another.
This mutual transference of rights is called a contract, or covenant. By adhering to the contract, a man gives up whatever rights set forth by the contract. However, man cannot give up his right to defend himself, for the entire purpose of entering the contract is self-preservation. Once the contract is formed, one must obey Hobbes’ third law of nature, which is to adhere to the contract (Leviathan 1, 14). It follows the laws of reason, Hobbes argues for man to keep his promises if he hopes to persevere over the long run.
The most highly organized social network is called a commonwealth, a web of contracts between members of a community, which according to Hobbes is synonymous to the formation of an entirely new person of which each individual is but a working part (Leviathan 2, 17). Hence the title of Hobbes’ most famous work, Leviathan, which is a sea monster that lives off of the “sea of individuals.” And who is to rule this commonwealth?
Hobbes answers that there needs to be a sovereign,...

Find Another Essay On Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes' State of Nature in Leviathan

1799 words - 7 pages 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

Thomas Hobbes' State of Nature in Leviathan

841 words - 3 pages According to the view Thomas Hobbes presents within the selected passaged in the Leviathan, we live in a narcissistic society where man’s condition is primarily driven by ego and where the achievement of personal goals is deemed paramount. Within the State of Nature that is, outside of civil society we have a right to all things ‘even to one another’s body’, and there would be no agreed authority to ensure the moral grounds of our decisions

An Analysis of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan

3135 words - 13 pages In his book The Leviathan Thomas Hobbes begins with bringing to the readers attention that despite the fact that all men may not be deemed equal that they were created equal. He backs up this statement by saying, "For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by a secret machination, or by confederacy with others, that are in the same danger with himself. In saying this, Hobbes illustrates that

State of Nature and Freedom: Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

1793 words - 8 pages State of Nature and Freedom In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes places limits on the freedom of individuals in the social contract, as well as individuals in the state of nature. Hobbes writes that in the state nature, “the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself for the preservation of his own nature; doing anything which, in his own judgement and reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means there unto” (ch. 14, ¶1). An

The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes: The State of Nature as an Exemplum

1648 words - 7 pages In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes's theory of the state of nature serves as an exemplum; an account that legitimizes and argues for the authority of the state, by providing the logic behind sovereignty. The theory illustrates the point that without government, man is in hell (an awful and evil state of nature), where peace, order and liberty are impossible. His purpose in writing the Leviathan, and in describing man's state of nature, should be

Comparison of Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, and the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Mankind, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

1289 words - 5 pages and contrast the human nature and individualism mentioned in Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, and the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Mankind, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes presents the reader with an overall pessimistic view of human nature, void of human emotions and based on reason. Hobbes begins his critique of human nature by creating what he refers to as 'state of nature'. Thomas Hobbes and

Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan and John Locke's Second Treatise of Government

2995 words - 12 pages Hobbes' Leviathan and Locke's Second Treatise of Government 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

the teachings of Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan

822 words - 3 pages Thomas Hobbes Paper - What is the difference betweenobligations in foro interno and in foro externo, and when do wehave such obligations?According to Thomas Hobbes, there are certain laws of nature whichexist in the absence of an organized government. These laws are extremelycut throat, and place people in extremely dangerous situations where theirlives are in danger. Government is the answer to this dangerous situation,but it is here that the

Thomas Hobbes' View on Government

736 words - 3 pages Thomas Hobbes' View on Government         Thomas Hobbes in his controversial work, the Leviathan, declares that such       a government based on the rule of the common people, would result in       anarchy and total pandemonium.         But before one can understand Hobbes' view on government, it is important       to understand how Hobbes feels about people. Hobbes has a very       materialistic view on

Life of Thomas Hobbes

1720 words - 7 pages 1"Life of Thomas Hobbes"Joe RovelliPolitical SociologyProfessor AbramsFall "06"1Thomas Hobbes was born in London in 1588. He received his college education at Oxford University in England, where he studied classics. The contributions he has made to philosophy is remarkable to say the least. Hobbes became interested and spent a great deal of his life trying to figure out why people allowed themselves to be ruled and what would be the best form of

Why Man Needs a Sovereign

654 words - 3 pages In the reading Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, Hobbes makes a concept in which any commonwealth must have the leadership of a sovereign in which possesses absolute power that in return will be able to administer order and peace among his or her subjects. In this concept, Hobbes focuses on several different logical characteristics of the human nature that can be looked at as flaws of the human nature as to which he bases his ideal. Within the first few

Similar Essays

Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan Essay

2488 words - 10 pages In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes contends that government should highly restrict individual liberty. Readers find it difficult to determine why Hobbes thinks government should restrict so much individual liberty. On the surface, it seems that Hobbes believes that individual liberty engenders revolt against the government, threatening the stability of the government and preventing the government from protecting its people. However, a closer

Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan Essay

976 words - 4 pages Born during a period of medieval philosophy, Thomas Hobbes developed a new way of thinking. He perfected his moral and political theories in his controversial book Leviathan, written in 1651. In his introduction, Hobbes describes the state of nature as an organism analogous to a large person (p.42). He advises that people should look into themselves to see the nature of humanity. In his quote, “ The passions that incline men to peace, are

Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes Essay

1631 words - 7 pages In his Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes outlined his views on law, the individual and the state. It is the first and foremost pieces on social contract theory. Hobbes explains the emergence of a sovereign, as “an embodiment of people’s individual and collective will to live in conditions of security, peace and some minimal prosperity” . He takes off with a hypothetical scenario that he refers to as “the state of nature”, wherein he analyzes the

Thomas Hobbes Leviathan Essay

1867 words - 7 pages eradication of Aids and poverty, or the John D. Rockefeller's and Andrew Carnegie's of yester year not disprove Hobbes view of Human nature? How would Thomas Hobbes explain the sacrifice of ones own life for a just cause or belief like those paid by the great abolitionists John Brown and Saint Thomas More? Is not the preservation of ones own life Hobbes main premise for choosing a life with a sovereign as opposed to living in the state of