Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thomas Hobbes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Again, here we have a philosophy built on the live Hobbes experienced - which was a great deal of death with the English Civil War and threat of death from his writings. However, any philosophy is built on a constant analysis action of each individual, and so is able to be changed.

Life today, in many parts of the United States, is anything but brutish and short. However, the same doesn't apply to war-torn areas of the Sudan, and other North African countries (and North Korea) - one can see that outside of Bagdad, there is a fairly peaceful lifestyle, not without a threat to life and still not as cushy as the US.

Hobbes, then, needs some grain of salt, as does Locke and Smith, et al. All depends on your comparatives.

Thomas Hobbes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"In Leviathan, Hobbes set out his doctrine of modern natural right as the foundation of societies and legitimate governments. In the natural condition of mankind, while some men may be stronger or more intelligent than others, none are so strong and smart as to be beyond a fear of violent death. When threatened with death, man in his natural state cannot help but defend himself in any way possible. Self-defense against violent death is Hobbes' highest human necessity, and rights are borne of necessity. In the state of nature, then, each of us has a right to everything in the world. Due to the scarcity of things in the world, there is a constant, and rights-based, 'war of all against all' (bellum omnium contra omnes). Life in the state of nature is 'solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short' (xiii).

But war isn't in man's best interest. According to Hobbes, man has a self-interested and materialistic desire to end war — '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' (xiii, 14). He forms peaceful societies by entering into a social contract. According to Hobbes, society is a population beneath an authority, to whom all individuals in that society surrender just enough of their natural right for the authority to be able to ensure internal peace and a common defense. This sovereign, whether monarch, aristocracy or democracy (though Hobbes prefers monarchy), should be a Leviathan, an absolute authority. Law, for Hobbes, is the enforcement of contracts. The political theory of Leviathan varies little from that set out in two earlier works, The Elements of Law and De Cive (On The Citizen). (A minor aside: Hobbes almost never uses the phrase 'state of nature' in his works.)"

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