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Hobbes's Depiction of This State Is the Most Famous Passage in Leviathan

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Thomas Hobbes begins Leviathan with Book 1: Of Man, in which he builds, layer by layer, a foundation for his eventual argument that the "natural condition" of man, or one without sovereign control, is one of continuous war, violence, death, and fear.

Hobbes's depiction of this state is the most famous passage in Leviathan:

[D]uring the 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 Navigation . . . no commodious Building; no instruments of moving . . . no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short (I-13, 186).

The final sentence of that passage, "And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short," seems to sum up what Hobbes has been leading up to in the first twelve chapters of Leviathan: that without a sovereign power, without Leviathan, the natural life of man is simply horrible. It is a life in which people naturally and constantly seek to destroy one another.

Sadly, I think Hobbes is correct, though clearly he was writing in the abstract. While all people do have within them elements of both good and bad, as The Osmond Brothers said so succinctly in the 1970's, "one bad apple can spoil the whole darn bunch." Even if 99.99% of the population was good, pure, philanthropic, and just, it only takes one "evil" individual to upset everything. As Hobbes pointed out Ð'- everyone must make a singular commitment to have freedom from the natural condition.

Hobbes tells us what that commitment must be, how to choose an alternative to a life of "warre." He writes that people must give up certain "natural" rights to a sovereign power. This sovereign is the head of the Leviathan, and as such, will create laws, act as judge, and defend the peace. Of course, this concept only works if everyone participates in the social contract.

And what would compel everyone to give up their natural rights, equally and simultaneously? Hobbes writes that "the Passions that encline men to Peace, are Feare of Death; Desire of

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