The Leviathan By Thomas Hobbes Essay

1415 Words 6 Pages
Every man an enemy, at war, and unsafe—such is the state of nature, as described by Thomas Hobbes. Yet in his work, Leviathan, Hobbes argues that man is not doomed to this state. He can escape. To do so, every man makes a covenant with every other to transfer their rights to an almighty Leviathan, the sovereign of their newly founded commonwealth, with the expectation that the Leviathan’s combined strength will better preserve their lives. However, this expectation does not follow from Hobbes’ argument. Though Hobbes contends that uniting under the Leviathan benefits its subjects, one finds that the Leviathan is affected by the same causes of conflict as individual men, and offers little benefit for the same cost of human life. When placed in conversation with David Hume’s later ideas on family and family conflict, the rise of Leviathans is revealed to be, not a solution to the warring state of nature, but an extension of it.
Hobbes’ descriptions of the state of nature and the Leviathan contradict his conclusion, that a covenant under the Leviathan protects men against the war of the state of nature. In Hobbes ' portrayal of the state of nature, “every man is enemy to every man,” and is compelled to war by “three principal causes:” his desire for gain, for safety, and for reputation (Hobbes, 1651, p. 4). Hobbes further asserts that, to remove themselves from this ongoing natural war, men covenant to “confer all their power and strength upon one man,” the Leviathan (Hobbes,…

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