Hobbes ' Account Of The State Of Nature

2258 Words Nov 5th, 2014 10 Pages
Does Hobbes’ account of the ‘State of Nature’ involve a false generalisation about human nature?

Hobbes’ state of nature has been used as a philosophical and political basis for the actions and policies of many modern governments. According to Hobbes, the state of nature is “the Naturall Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery.”

The Hobbesian state of nature was a condition in which many European peoples existed under conditions of “high moral density” or morality but with no “common power to keep them all in awe.” He argued that the state of nature was a nonpolitical and antipolitical condition. The constitutive elements of the natural state were primarily and fundamentally individuals who were free and equal and who lived in natural associations such as families or households. In the state of nature, a scarcity of desired things created competition for resources, distrust (“diffidence”), and glory (war and conquests). In Hobbes’s view, the natural condition for each European man was to be in a state of fear of desiring others, resulting in personal and collective wars.

Considering the circumstances in which Thomas Hobbes was raised, the conclusions he reached concerning mankind are not surprising. For the entirety of his early adult life, the Thirty Years War raged in Europe causing total destruction. England soon experienced civil war in 1642 and Cromwell waged war against Scotland, Ireland and Holland.1 It is fair to conclude from this that…

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