Human Nature Essay

Topics: John Locke, State of nature, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 5 (2094 words) Published: October 11, 2008
The Evil Nature of Man: An Essay on Human Nature
People today enjoy the many pleasures life provides, including entertainment and technology, all the while living longer than ever before. This would not be possible, if it were not for a government that protects it’s citizens from danger and promotes peace. Humans are evil by nature, and therefore require some form of power in a society that will protect each person. This evil is described in a interview with a U.S. soldier who after returning from Iraq, found his evil nature to control his emotions toward Muslims, until he was able to join their group, an become a member of their society. Thomas Hobbes, an English Philosopher from the 17th century, wrote a book on the subjects of human nature and also its relation to government. In Leviathan, Hobbes states in Chapter XIII, “Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind…” referring to the idea that every man is created equal (41). Hobbes goes on to say, “from this equality of ability ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends” (41). While every man is created equal, they are also created with the wants and desires to attain their hopes, goals, and dreams, which can cause for conflict if two men wish for the same thing, yet cannot have it (41). This idea leads to Hobbes next point that “from this diffidence [shyness, almost fear] of one another, there is no way for any man to secure himself so reasonable as anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can so long till he see no other power great enough to endanger him” (42). Hobbes talks of the inability of man to get have what he wants. As an equal in the society in which he exists, each man thinks he should be able to have whatever it is he wants, even when others also want the same. These men will battle for the object of interest, along with all others who desire said object, which eventually results in a war (42). This war only ends when one man defeats all the others, and no one else exists to threaten him (43). There is always a war of this type going on, although it may not be for the same reason, with every man’s actions being uniquely his own, not being judged by God, with no rules, no justice, and the only thing that can stop the war is each man’s fear of death (Hobbes 43,44). Because of his negative view about human nature, Hobbes believes that in order to live in peace and happiness instead of war, we must give up certain liberties to the state (45). We each have rights, with certain rules Hobbes defines as essential to our nature. Hobbes starts out by claiming that the right of Nature “is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself for the preservation of his own nature” (44). The claim is followed with this explanation of liberty: “the absence of internal impediments; which impediments may oft take away part of a man’s power to do what he would, but cannot hinder him from using the power left him according as his judgment and reason shall dictate to him” (44). Hobbes is saying those liberties which man keeps may be used as he wishes, but those given up to the state are lost for good reason, mainly to prevent constant war. The first law of nature explains that man cannot harm or take his own life, as it is against nature (44). The next law basically sums up the previous points of man having right to all, and wishing to have peace, but when it is not attainable, the right to defend himself. The second law of Nature is where Hobbes sums up his claims, saying “that a man be willing, when other are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow himself” (45). This idea of men giving up certain rights to ensure peace is the basis for Hobbes’ view of human nature, with each man giving up the same rights as others, so that one man...

Cited: “Devil in Me, The.” Ira Glass. This American Life. Chicago Public Radio. 7 Sept. 2007.
Hobbes, Thomas. “Excerpts from Leviathan.” Enduring Questions for an Intercultural World. Ed. Barbara Rolleston. Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 2006. 40-47
Locke, John. “’Of the State of Nature’ from Two Treatises of Government.” Enduring Questions for an Intercultural World. Ed. Barbara Rolleston. Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 2006. 48-52.
Lustwig, Myron W. and Koester, Jolene. Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2006.
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