Thomas Hobbes Essay Research Paper THOMAS HOBBESIntroductionThomas — страница 2

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loans, or give gifts without a consenting act of parliament. Prior to the political turmoil of the 1640s, the writings of Thomas Hobbes were anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary. His major work up to this time was the De Cive in 1642, but it was written in Latin. As it as been pointed out (Ramon M. Lemos, 1978), the De Cive is similar in fundamental principles to his later great work, the Liviathan published in 1651. The battle between the king and parliament would cause Hobbes to fear for his life, and in the 1640s he fled England for France. During his stay in France he instructed Charles II, son of King Charles I, in mathematics from 1646 to 1648. Despite his concerns regarding the rule of parliament in England, Hobbes returned home in 1651 because he feared the French

clergy more than the English parliament. In England he declared that he would submit to the republican regime, and remained in his homeland until his death in 1679. The Liviathan is widely considered to be “the first general theory of politics in the English language” (Ebenstien & Ebenstien, 1991). Philosophy Early philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who defend absolute government, believed in the principle of human inequality. Those early philosophers posited the tenet that some men are naturally predisposed to rule, and are endowed with different attributes than the people over whom they rule. Hobbes argues from the opposite perspective, and proposes “that men are naturally equal in mind and body” ( Ebenstien & Ebenstien, 1991). He makes the point

that, as for physical strength, the weakest possess enough strength to kill the strongest by destroying him secretly, or with the help of allies who are in the same danger. He reasons that mental strength and wisdom among men is naturally equal, though some people think that their wisdom is greater than others. Believing that one is wiser than others makes one contented with ones share of wisdom, and contentment with ones share of anything is a sign of equal distribution. That, in itself, he believes is enough proof that all men are equal rather than unequal. The basic equality of men poses a threat to peace among men. Men with equal faculties will share like hopes and desires, and if two men desire the same thing, which they cannot both have, they will be at odds with each

other. In explaining the theoretical state of nature, which is his explanation of “every man against every man” (Jackson J. Spielvogel, 1991: 559), Hobbes uses this brutish characteristic as a take-off point for discussion of the condition of war among men. Before the organization of society, humans did not abide by reason and morals, but by an animalistic and ruthless instinct to survive within the state of nature. According to Hobbes, the nature of war is not defined by the actual fighting, “but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace” (559). As long as men live in a state of nature in which their security lies only in their personal strength or secret machinations, then there is no culture,

industry, and no knowledge of the earth. It is a condition of “continual fear, and anger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (559). In Hobbes’ view, the fear of death is the force that leads men to aspire for peace. The individual desires for things like power and glory yield to the desire to secure life at the minimum, and, if possible, the means of a comfortable and fulfilling existence. As Aristotle believed that it is man’s ability to differentiate between just and unjust, or good and evil that makes him different from other animals, so did Hobbes believe that man’s ability to reason is the defining element of man over other animals. It is this power of reason which lead man to realize that his fear of death was due to

the ‘every man for himself’ attitude which results in the state of perpetual war of ‘every man against all’. This power of reason also leads man to realize that he needs not do that to another “which thou thinkest unreasonable to be done by another to yourself”(Ebenstien & Ebenstien, 1991: 400). In the same manner in which Socrates and Plato see the State being formed for the creation of a collective good, so does Hobbes see the creation of a sovereign to secure the collective good for man, which is his security. Hobbes argues that the essential faculty of reasoning guided man to the acceptance of the fact that to save themselves from destroying each other, they had to contract to form a commonwealth, which he called the great Leviathan. This commonwealth would