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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 fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them,” Hobbes view of the motivations for moral behavior becomes valid because of his use of examples to support his theories, which in turn, apply to Pojman’s five purposes for morality.
     Hobbes purpose to his state of nature philosophy was to describe human nature. He argues that, in the absence of social condition, every action we perform, no matter how charitable or benevolent, is done for reasons which are ultimately self-serving (p.43-47). For example, if I were to donate to charity, I am actually taking delight in demonstrating my power. Hobbes believes that any account of human action, including morality, must be consistent with the fact that we are all self-serving. His theory notes that humans are essentially equal, both mentally and physically, so that even the weakest person has the strength to kill the strongest (p.44). Given our equal standing, Hobbes believes that there are three natural causes of quarrel among people: competition for limited supplies of material possessions, distrust of one another, and glory so that people remain hostile to preserve their reputation. With these natural causes of quarrel, Hobbes concludes that the natural condition of humans is a state of perpetual war of all against all, where no morality exists, and everyone lives in constant fear (p.45). He believes that humans have three motivations for ending this state of war: the fear of death, the desire to have an adequate living and the hope to attain this through one’s labor (p.47). These beliefs become valid because of the use of his examples. One example suggests that people are barbaric to each other. With the absence of international law, strong countries prey on the weakness of weak countries. I believe that his views of moral behavior are very true. Like Hobbes said, people are out for their well-being. If I were to do a favor for someone, I may think I am helping someone out, which I am, but I am probably doing the favor because it is going to make me feel better. It is going to benefit my well being. Hobbes is a famous philosopher whose views were very controversial. But the fact that he lived in a time when the monarchy was the “divine right of kings” (p.42), makes his views valid today. With a different government and new laws, his views appear to be true.
     In the...

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