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Hobbes’ State of Nature It would be taxing for anyone vaguely familiar with Hobbes to not be aware of his widely quoted vision of man’s brutal and short life in the state of nature. For Hobbes, man’s equality in the state of nature is the cause of his terrible existence in that every man has the right to everything, which causes conflict. Man possesses an inherent selfishness which causes him to strive constantly for self-preservation, and in turn is the cause of his suffering (or seeking) competition, glory, and distrust. Such a state is ultimately “no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death” (1996: xiii). This is not to say that man is a blundering, blind fool simply seeking to grab that which promises to bring greater comfort and success to his life. Rather, man is in possession of reason, which causes him to grasp an understanding of right and wrong conduct. Yet, because no formal standards of right and wrong exist in a state of nature, opinions and rights clash and differ. This is not to assume that Hobbes denies the universality of morality or natural law, rather man is governed by agreements and contracts. However, Hobbes’ contracts are a product of the selfishness of man, and hence are not based upon any form of honour or trust because they will be valid to the point that an individual believes that another will not fall foul of his promise. An example would be that Y does not punch Z because Y does not want Z to punch him. This ‘contract’ is formed on pure selfishness, and only extends to the point that Z complies with the agreement. If Y feels that Z’s agreement lacks strength, he will quickly feel free to break his part of the contract. Such contracts, because they are without honour and because they are a product of selfishness, are very likely to be breached. If we are to apply these points on an international scale, some contradictions emerge. While on the surface it would appear that each state has the right to do anything, the existence of equality is highly questionable. Hobbes evidently thinks that a “genuine condition of war” exists between states (Hokestra 2007: 118), though not their individuals; rather their sovereigns who are constantly “in the state and posture of gladiators” (1996: xiii, 12, 63/78). The lack of common power on an international level today is evident, yet could this be utilised to lead to the conclusion that each state is constantly read for, or under threat of war? The temptation to answer this query negatively is backed by the concept of equality. Indeed, there is a great deal of “radical uncertainty” surrounding the cooperation between states (Newey 2008: 161). Though Hobbes saw men as equal in a state of nature, it could not be said that all states are equal; the opposite is actually evident. America certainly does not feel the need to harbour pre-emptive aggression against countries such as Iceland, for example. This leads to the conclusion that internationally, states are in a state of war as man is in the state of nature (Bull 1977: 49). This concept can also be applied to Hobbes’ view of man in nature as essentially unsociable: states across the globe often enter into mutually beneficial agreements. Even larger states provide aid to third world countries, particularly after crises and where poverty is extreme. Although these distinctions may be rather primitive, they gather much ground in establishing weaknesses in Hobbes’ theory being applied on an international level. Man in the state of nature is certainly more equal than countries in the ‘
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Ironically, the search of equality and having been able to attain it is initially the reason why war occurs. Hobbes noted that “if any two men desire the same thing which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies”.
Fobbes is best known for his work in political philosophy and in the social sciences although he contributed to a diverse range of academic disciplines including physics of gases, geometry, history, ethics, general philosophy, theology and political science (Bunce & Meadowcroft 21).
In fact most philosophical concepts are not relevant to concepts of science. It is a fact generally accepted that some aspects and phenomenon of this world are explained by logic. The rest are explained by science. However, there is an underlying and deep connection between philosophy and science since both of them are found on common ground knowledge.
More so, Hobbes belief that neither limited government nor divided authority is a practical possibility arguing that there must be a supreme sovereign power in the society. Hobbes claims that any form of ordered government is preferable to civil war, therefore, he suggests that all societal members to submit to a single absolute, central authority in order to maintain peace and stability.
In realism approach, there is little space for morality and sometimes it is completely absent in the theorists decisions or opinions. The realism approach strictly observes and basis its argument on realism regardless of the final outcome. Realism observes the fact that one cannot avoid thinking of how the world would have actually been.
Interestingly, Hobbes describes that from the equality rise all the feelings of diffidence, anticipation and the will to a common power, which in used in "acts of conquest", which man always "pursue farther" than what is generally required. The concept of "common power" is a very interesting point, where Hobbes describes this as the main pursuit of man, who is always at grief because man seeks to hold others in awe.
Man was in a perpetual state of war with his fellow man, where all had a right to self-preservation by any means necessary. The Hobbesian natural state was the "time men live without a common power to keep them in awe, they are in a condition which is called war, and such a war, as is of every man against every man," (Leviathan, ch.
This is in agreement with the latest U.N reports, which highlights that the benefits of the global economy have not been distributed evenly, but rather were divided among a small set of countries and corporations. The early success of the global economy in East Asia did not last long.
Hobbes depicts 'natural' man as a creature fundamentally opposed to civil society. It is a picture of humanity lacking basic ties even of family and friendship, and primarily concerned with self-interest. As Hobbes also depicts 'men' in this situation as roughly equal, in terms of physical strength and mental faculties, he cannot see clear winners and losers in this state, or the emergence of a more fixed, systemic hierarchy.