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Hobbes theory of the state of nature(TM)

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Discuss the validity of Hobbes's depiction of the State of Nature: This essay looks to explore Hobessian's theory of the 'state of nature'. I will begin with a brief explanation of the 'state of nature' then go on to explore different interpretations of the theory and how it has been received by other academics and critics. I then conclude my views of the theory as to whether it can be applied to the real world. The theory of the 'state of nature' was proposed by the political theorist Thomas Hobbes which he first discussed in his book Leviathan. The state of Nature suggests that there was at one time a state of "Anarchism," a society without king or ruler in continuous war and violence. Before government and the invention of law and society as we know it today. Hobbes describes it in his book Leviathan as 'A Time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in a condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. . . . In such condition, there is no place for industry . . . no Culture of the Earth... no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary ... ...read more.


If generations of scholars had thought it ridiculous we wouldn't be considering it now.' [7] In the nineteenth century Utilitatrians took interest in Hobbes work especially academic James Mill, who was intrigued by Hobbes's, "unsentimental account of human nature and realistic discussions of sovereignty and law". Mills agreed with Hobbes view that human nature inclines men to war and therefore need 'a common power to keep them in awe' [8]. Hobbes had an egoistical view of human beings in the sense that we are only motivated by self interest, this interpretation of human nature as been heavily criticized by many including A.E Taylor, who suggested a contrasting deontological moral theory to Hobbes work; which is the duty to keep promises to one another.[9] The idea of a sovereign has also heavily criticized as Hobbes fails to consider whether we have any obligation to obey a sovereign. Hobbes's suggestions for an absolutism society where the sovereign will judge all moral and political matters and enforce those judgments. These suggestions are not only weak; they are simply refuted by the relatively successful distribution of powers in modern liberal societies such as Britain. Also the idea that responsibility of governing a whole nation should be invested in an individual is contested by the horrific crimes of twentieth century dictatorships, which show beyond doubt that judgment about right and wrong cannot be a question only for our political leaders.[10] According to Hobbes we all have violence rooted inside us and in order to repress violence towards each other we should organise ourselves into a "civilization." ...read more.


Hobbes idea of absolutism can be seen in countries where a communist/ totalitarian regime is in place thus giving some weight to his theory but Hobbes believed that the sovereign "could be trusted and would not abuse their power and conduct themselves in a way which is only beneficial to their people. However this concept fails as evident in the modern world that people can easily be corrupted by power with leaders like Hitler and Saddam Hussian. Hobbes egoistic view that man is simply a selfish of being is questionable as man is a s****l being with the desire to mate with the desire to find a partner and even start a family meaning we are born with some morality and passion toward others. [13] Finally some of Hobbes concepts are contradictory as he suggests people have a "rational desire " to make war, this would result in a vicious circle which would impossible to break. Hobbes also proposed there is a "common power" to enforce co-operation between human beings, if this were to exist there would be no need for a sovreign. Although some of Hobbes theories are valid they do become questionable once put into historical and political context. [1] Spark Notes [2] Spark Notes [3] An Introduction to political thought [4] An Introduction to political thought [5] Hobbes 1968: 183 [6] Political Thinkers from Socrates to the Present [7] An Introduction to political thought [8] Political Thinkers from Socrates to the Present [9] Political Thinkers from Socrates to the Present [10] www.iep.utm.edu [11] www.spectacle.org [12] Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in his book On Killing [13] www.ccsindia.org ...read more.

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