Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher remembered today for his work in philosophy. Hobbes was a rationalist and tried to use the scientific method in his own works on power, politics, and human nature. His greatest work was the Leviathan written in the midst of a civil war. Hobbes discarded theory’s that placed secular power under theological authority. He believed that humans were moving organisms which were required to be restrained by authority to prevent them from pursuing selfish ends .
Hobbes doctrine the Leviathan based on his social contract theories. As the book was written in the midst of a civil war much of it focuses on the need of a strong central authority to avoid discord and civil war. In his Leviathan Hobbes hypothesizes what life would be like without government, also known as state of nature. In this state each person would have a certain right, or license to all . This would eventually lead to a “bellum omnium contra omnes” or war against all, and people would love solitary, poor, short lives.
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In order to avoid this he states that man needs to agree to a social contract and establish civil society. Hobbes states that “society is a population beneath a sovereign authority, to whom all individuals in that society cede their natural rights for the sake of protection”. This means that man gives up some of his natural right to the sovereign in exchange for protection and order, and any misuse of this power is to be acknowledged as the price of peace, although in extreme cases rebellion is to be expected.
The sovereign is in charge of and must control civil, military, judicial, and ecclesiastical powers. To prove this Hobbes said “If men are naturally in a state of war, why do they always carry arms and why do they have keys to lock their doors? ” Hobbes believed that everyone was basically selfish beings who would do anything to benefit their own personal position, and if left alone would act upon evil impulses.
He believed this to be true for nations as well and they were all in a constant battle for power and wealth. He believed that Government was created to protect people from their own selfishness evil. He did not support and believed that it would not work, because people were only interested in self interests. He wrote “All mankind is in a perpetual and restless desire for power… that stops only in death” . He supported the rule of a King or an authority figure to provide direction and leadership for the people.
Thomas Hobbes was one of the first modern western thinkers; he stressed the motivational aspects of passions and desires, particularly the passion for power. His Leviathan gave his insight on government and the state of nature. He emphasizes the need for government and the natural selfishness and evil of mankind, and the secular need for government. Hobbes was one of the greatest thinkers of the time and his theories and doctrines challenged the regular way of thinking.