The Fear that Keeps Government in Place
In Leviathan, Hobbes attempts to explain how civil government came to be established. He begins his argument at the most logical place; the fundamental basis of mankind, and makes several key steps in the development of human nature to reach the implementation of a sovereign ruler. Hobbes believes the foundation of mankind is motion. Man is in constant motion and the instability that forms from the collisions that ensue from the constant motion form the state of nature. The state of nature is an inherently dangerous lifestyle, where all members live in a state of constant fear. This fear drives man to consent to a social contract, which establishes a peaceful existence. The social contract is ultimately enforced by the sovereign ruler who uses fear of punishment to ensure man follows the laws created. Man essentially gives up one type of fear for another in an attempt to better human life. Hobbes essentially believes that one must discover how the natural person functions to determine what type of government should be put in place and how man can accomplish its formation. He therefore begins Leviathan by arguing that every aspect of humanity can be explained through materialistic principles, because man consists simply of matter in motion. Hobbes believes individuals are born as blank slates and the knowledge man achieves of the world is derived from external bodies pressing against him. This constant motion occurring internally in each man eventually transfers to the surface of their body creating senses, which in turn relays messages to the brain and forms opinions and imagination. Hobbes believes we are driven by our passions and desires, which means man is essentially a bundle of all his passions in constant motion. An important aspect of this is that once a thing is in motion it will eternally be in motion until an outside force acts upon it. The fact that these bundles of passion are in constant motion until an...
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