Critique of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan

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Wright State University

Modern Political Philosophy
Essay 1
Critique of Thomas Hobbes’s
“Leviathan”

Wes Miller
PHL 432
Donovan Miyasaki
10/9/2012
Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher best known for his 1651 text “Leviathan”. In “Leviathan” Hobbes suggests that human nature is one of competition, diffidence, and glory. I will argue against this assertion, claiming that human nature is not one of war and mistrust, but one of cooperation and collaboration. I will conclude by stating that man works together to achieve the common goal of survival, happiness, and advancement of the human race.

Hobbes begins his explanation of the state of nature in chapter 13 of “Leviathan” by stating that all men are equal in nature. Although one man may be stronger or more intelligent than another, humans are relatively equal in every way because of their ability to manipulate and form alliances: “For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others, that are in the same danger as himself.”1 Because men are all equal, Hobbes believed that they desire the same things. If two men share the same desire, they become enemies.

If all men are equal, there is no way for one man to be master of all other men. If a single man were to attempt to gain power over all other men, he would be overthrown by those he was trying to have power over. Considering that all are naturally equal, and all naturally desire the same things, the nature of man, according to Hobbes, is war: “So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory” (293). In this constant state of war there is no desire for any technological advancements or culture because there would be no use for either. Many other aspects of life are thrown aside as well: “no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious...
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