Hobbes Philosophy Essay

This essay has a total of 993 words and 4 pages.

Hobbes Philosophy


Born during a period of medieval philosophy, Thomas Hobbes developed a new way of
thinking. He perfected his moral and political theories in his controversial book
Leviathan, written in 1651. In his introduction, Hobbes describes the state of nature as
an organism analogous to a large person (p.42). He advises that people should look into
themselves to see the nature of humanity. In his quote, " The passions that incline men to
peace, are fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and
a hope by their industry to obtain them," Hobbes view of the motivations for moral
behavior becomes valid because of his use of examples to support his theories, which in
turn, apply to Pojman's five purposes for morality.

Hobbes purpose to his state of nature philosophy was to describe human nature. He argues
that, in the absence of social condition, every action we perform, no matter how
charitable or benevolent, is done for reasons which are ultimately self-serving (p.43-47).
For example, if I were to donate to charity, I am actually taking delight in demonstrating
my power. Hobbes believes that any account of human action, including morality, must be
consistent with the fact that we are all self-serving. His theory notes that humans are
essentially equal, both mentally and physically, so that even the weakest person has the
strength to kill the strongest (p.44). Given our equal standing, Hobbes believes that
there are three natural causes of quarrel among people: competition for limited supplies
of material possessions, distrust of one another, and glory so that people remain hostile
to preserve their reputation. With these natural causes of quarrel, Hobbes concludes that
the natural condition of humans is a state of perpetual war of all against all, where no
morality exists, and everyone lives in constant fear (p.45). He believes that humans have
three motivations for ending this state of war: the fear of death, the desire to have an
adequate living and the hope to attain this through one's labor (p.47). These beliefs
become valid because of the use of his examples. One example suggests that people are
barbaric to each other. With the absence of international law, strong countries prey on
the weakness of weak countries. I believe that his views of moral behavior are very true.
Like Hobbes said, people are out for their well-being. If I were to do a favor for
someone, I may think I am helping someone out, which I am, but I am probably doing the
favor because it is going to make me feel better. It is going to benefit my well being.
Hobbes is a famous philosopher whose views were very controversial. But the fact that he
lived in a time when the monarchy was the "divine right of kings" (p.42), makes his views
valid today. With a different government and new laws, his views appear to be true.

In the book, The Moral Life, Louis Pojman discusses the need for moral code. To make his
point clear, he takes a look at the novel, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Lord of
the Flies is a modern allegory on the nature and purpose of morality. A group of British
private school boys are marooned on an island; detached from the constraints of
civilization, they turn into savages. The significance of the book lies in the fact that
it illuminates the need for and purpose of ethical codes (5). The theme of the book is an
attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. Pojman
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