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Thomas Hobbes' Account of Human Nature

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Hobbes' Account of Human Nature

Thomas Hobbes much like Niccolo Machiavelli has a very pessimistic view on human nature. Thomas' view on human nature is such that; if human beings are left to their own devices they will resort to savagery as they will be in endless competition with others over resources and invariably there will be weaker human beings than others. Within the course of this essay I will further exam the Hobbes' account of human nature.

Hobbes' view on human nature though pessimistic is also inherently egalitarian in which he concludes all human beings are equal, "Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference between man and man is not so considerable...For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself."(1651:76). As a result of this equality that all human beings share it is in their best interest to have a higher power governing them in the form of a sovereign.

The sovereign according to Hobbes is defined as, "...a multitude of men do agree, and covenant, every one with every one, that to whatsoever man, or assembly of men, shall be given by the major part the right to present the person of them all, that is to say, to be their representative; every one, as well he that voted for it as he that voted against it, shall authorize all the actions and judgements of that man, or assembly of men, in the same manner as if they were his own, to the end to live peaceably amongst themselves, and be protected against other men."(1651:107).The above definition is essentially the beginning of theories of the social contract, which required people to consent to handing their power to the sovereign.

Hobbes was in favour of the sovereign having complete power, because this would allow the sovereign to execute the task handed to them by the citizenry effectively in that they can implement necessary laws without being hampered by additional government. The idea of the sovereign having complete power is problematic because the society of Hobbes' construct does not really cater to the individual, your fundamental right to life is protected however by virtue of your safety the sovereign has executed their job effectively. There is a clause as such that Hobbes includes, "The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them."(1651:136).

Thomas Hobbes' most famous quote is also the most telling, "In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit



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