State Of Nature In Leviathan By Thomas Hobbes

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In an excerpt from Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, he describes his theory about the conditions of a society which has no governing body to control it.

When there is no government, we live in a state of nature; a state of total freedom where we can do whatever we want at any time. If there is no government, there are no set laws, and therefore no limits on human actions. There are also no formal consequences for actions that may cause harm to others. You could do anything you want if it will benefit you since there is no sure punishment. As a result, your only sure form of self-protection is that which you can offer yourself with your own strengths and capabilities. In the state of nature, if you don’t assume that others will cause you harm,
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Many of Hobbes’ ideas are derived from the basic assumption that all humans are intrinsically selfish. We are all born relatively equal in our physical and intellectual capacities and so we are constantly striving to be better than others. This comes with being an autonomous individual. We are all responsible for ourselves, so the next logical step is to serve ourselves. He is a materialist, so he does not believe in any form of a higher, divine being. Where other philosophers might argue that such a God-like figure instills a quality of goodness and morality in us at birth, Hobbes believes differently. There is no greatest good. He says that we can never be satisfied and that we naturally want to obtain the greatest possible amount of power. It is this attribute of selfishness that makes the state of nature so dangerous. It creates total instability; because we are constantly in competition and willing to do anything to be the best as long as there are no …show more content…
He doesn’t trust humans to abide by the contract on their won. In order for a social contract to work, the enforcer or authority must have absolute power. There can be no room for rebellion against authority, and so there must be censorship of the members of the society. If the authority is not absolute, the social contract will not work because there needs to be fear of punishment of anyone who breaks the contract. The sovereign is part of the society, but does not need to abide by the same laws as the citizens he rules over. In Hobbes view, if the sovereign can easily be overthrown, then you don’t really have a sovereign. They are, in a sense, immune (something close to a dictator). For Hobbes, where there is no rule there is no justice. Without a legal system in place, there is no conception of justice. The only way to make sure our selfishness doesn’t get out of control is an absolute

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