posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 06:10 PM
Since you have asked if anyone has read it, this is all you need to know about Leviathan and Hobbes. This is chopped from a longer work. There are
references, but I left them out for the sake of simplicity.
The Hobbesian universe is defined as being completely filled with matter that is in a state of constant motion, with all human action being a result
from the impacts of matter on the human sensory organs. In the Hobbesian universe, the arrow of knowledge goes from the inside out, or rather all
knowledge is derived internally from the impacts of that matter on the sensory organs. It is this view that is the groundwork for analyzing the
psychology of the individuals who occupy this reality. The objective of this paper is to not only explore the social and political impacts of
Hobbes’s psychology of the individual, but to also gauge the validity of his arguments from an objective viewpoint; more specifically, the focus of
this analysis will be on Hobbes’s description of the natural state of humans, and how language is both acquired and used from Hobbes’s point of
The State of Nature
In describing the two main types of motion, away from and toward, Hobbes deduces that we move toward the things we like (appetites) and away from the
things we dislike (aversions). Appetites and aversions are defined as the determiner of all human behavior, and that they are central to human
behavior is the idea of self preservation. Hobbes argues that once you strip away civilization and culture, basic human nature is a struggle for self
preservation. This view is best summarized by Hobbes himself: “During the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in
a condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. [….] no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account
of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all , continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary,
poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” It is through this reasoning and personal observation that Hobbes develops his idea of the ‘state of
nature’. He defines this state as an environment without civilization, law, or government where humans are in a ceaseless struggle for self
preservation. This struggle ultimately transforms into a fear-induced desire for power. He concludes that the only way to escape this horrid
condition and achieve a life of peace, is to create a social contract and give all sovereignty to a single entity (the leviathan).
The real argument is whether or not Hobbes’s ‘state of nature’ is in fact a natural state for humans. Negative critiques of Hobbes’s
description of basic human nature are that his scenarios are unrealistic, or that the natural human state is not as Hobbes depicts it. A possible
problem with this critique of Hobbes’s ‘state of nature’ is that it is subjective in the sense that the critics are determining what is and is
not a natural state of humanity. Essentially, there is no categorical way to determine the true natural state of humans. Evidence from the
archaeological record indicates that from approximately 5,000 to 100,000 b.c.e, human civilization could be characterized as loose bands of
hunter-gatherers who had no concept of government. This factual history could be argued as unnatural by the critics of Hobbes. However, since he was
writing during a period of civil war in England, there is a legitimate argument that his views may have been biased in favor of a more chaotic human
nature. It is arguable that the terrible atrocities that people were committing against each other at the time would have certainly influenced
Hobbes; thus, what he was experiencing was not the natural state of humans, but rather evidence that when society breaks down, human behavior devolves
into an unnatural chaotic state.
The Hobbesian psychology is a very appealing concept to individualists. He paints a fantastic picture of individual interpretation of reality through
sensory organs, where sense impressions are unique to the individual. He asserts that language is innate and that humans crave power for self
preservation. Even though his assessment of language doesn’t account for the needed social aspect, his theory is still both relevant and intuitive.
His analysis of the ‘state of nature’ can be argued in either direction, but its real flaw lies in both the subjectivity and bias created by the
time period. It is also hard to ignore that the only escape from the human condition, according to Hobbes, is to give all power over to one sovereign
entity. Yet even with the flaws in his arguments, Hobbes’s brilliant reasoning makes complete disagreement an impossibility, and outright
accordance an aspiration.
[edit on 6/8/2010 by yadda333]