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Analysis Thomas Hobbes's Claim "a State of Nature Is, or Would Be, a State of War of Everyone Against Everyone."

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Essay Preview: Analysis Thomas Hobbes's Claim "a State of Nature Is, or Would Be, a State of War of Everyone Against Everyone."

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Thomas Hobbes argues that a state of nature will eventually become a state of war of everyone against everyone. According the Hobbes, the main reason behind this change will be the harsh competition over scarce resources caused by the nature of man. Through out this essay Hobbes's reasons will be explained in greater detail.

In order to truly understand the logic behind Hobbes's claim, we must first understand his point of view of human nature. The key element in Hobbes's view on human nature was the importance of desires. Unlike many other philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes had a different approach to desires. He believed desires were real motive behind human behaviors. (Leviathan, p119) What motivated human actions were not virtues such as wisdom as Aristotle and Plato would claim, nor was it a sense of duty as Cicero would say. It was rather simple desire. Hobbes did not see desire as a harmful feeling, which must be avoided. He rather thought of it as a positive part of human nature, which could drive a person to achieve more and more.

Hobbes had a definition of happiness closely connected to desires. Hobbes defined happiness as a "continual successe in obtaining those things which a man from time to time desireth" He used the phrase "felicity" for this definition of happiness. (Leviathan, p.129) Important point here is, there is no limit to this attaining of goods and happiness is a continued process of desire fulfillment, which lasts from birth to death.

It would not be wrong if we claim all reasonable people would like to live a life of happiness or in other words, a life of felicity. Having accepted Hobbes's definition of felicity, it can be further said that all people would want a life where all their desires are fulfilled.

Hobbes argued that despite minor differences, all people were close to being the same in both ability and intelligence. (Leviathan, p.183) Hobbes further stated, because people are close to being the same they also have similar desires. This is the point where the problems begin. All people have similar desires for certain goods as well as the same hope of attaining them but unfortunately most of these desired goods are limited in numbers. Because there aren't enough resources for everyone to fulfill their desires, people must compete with others to acquire the goods they desire. Because of competition people will see each other as rivals trying to avoid each other as much as possible. Eventually diffidence will spread among men. (Leviathan, p.184) From diffidence a state of anticipation fearing other side will make an attack on them. Hatred and distrust will slowly grow eventually resulting in wars to take place among men. However, we must also understand that these wars are not necessarily wars where actual fighting takes place; it can also be similar to "Cold War" between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R.

But what are the reasons why people can have competition and not have diffidence or war among them? The answer to this question is hidden in Hobbes's understanding of "good", "evil" and "rationality". Hobbes believed that there are no certain natural definitions of good and evil. The meaning of these terms could change from a person to person. (Leviathan, p.120) Hobbes believed that all the actions that help us fulfill our desires could be defined as "good" when examined from our point of view. For a person with such moral values, to kill the competition might seem like a reasonable act if it helps him attain the desired goods and obviously such as acts as murder can easily lead up to a war. Another important view of Hobbes is the definition of rationality. According to Hobbes, rationality is no more than one's own self preservation. So, we can further claim a fully rational human being will take no chances against his self preservation. In a state of nature where all men have such interest based values and where all people are willing to do anything to fulfill their desires everyone else might seem like a potential threat to one's own self preservation. From this, Hobbes reaches to a conclusion where for a fully rational person it would be the most reasonable thing to eliminate the other people that pose a threat before they eliminate him. Once again such a pattern of thinking will eventually lead up to a state of war.

Having explained the reason behind Thomas Hobbes's argument we can much accurately analyze his claim. Over all Thomas Hobbes has made a well put argument. His argument that human behavior is driven by desires is a realistic look to human nature. Simply by looking at today's world it is possible to see the consumption being made by human beings. As Thomas Hobbes says there is no complete satisfaction us humans. As soon as human beings acquire something desired, it suddenly does not seem to be enough and we set our eyes on something new. It can be agreed that desire



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