Thomas Hobbes

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Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) writings are influenced by new philosophical concepts induced by the Enlightenment period, or the modern world. Hobbes philosophy is characterized by an increased emphasis on the individual, unlike in the ancient period where the emphasis was on the common human nature. He also moves from the tendency to appeal to divinity or scripture for justifying one's actions to observation, reason and the scientific method. There is an increase focus on relativism and on analysis. Unlike ancient philosophers, Hobbes does not take for granted everything that is stated by authority. Everything has to be analyzed according to reason "whatever could not survive the scrutiny of reason was to be discarded" (The Story of Ethics, p.51). He also moves away from final and formal cause to the efficient and material, because that is what is observable. Hobbes believes in empiricism, in knowledge coming from the senses. His views are materialistic. He places strong emphasis on individualism. Hobbes entire view of the world is characterized by people's egoism, personal well-being, competition, exploitation of others and self-interest. He favors authoritarian government namely monarchy instead of democracy. With no authority, namely in the state of nature, people would rebel and be in constant war. However, their strong desire towards peace and their fear of death would determine them to create a monarchy.
Unlike in the past, where people used to establish what is right and what is wrong according to divine authority, Hobbes states that everything must be in accordance to reason. In addition individuals by their nature do not trust each other. So, we cannot judge actions according to other sources than reason. "If one prophet deceive another what certainty is there of knowing the will of God, by other means than that of reason?" 
(The Story of Ethics, p.51). Hobbes view is materialistic and it is still not sure whether or not he believes in God. In any case, he considers human beings to be equal by nature. Although some people are physically stronger or faster than other ones, the weaker one may outwit the stronger one and so they are nevertheless the same in their ability to kill. Because of this equal ability to possess things, men are concerned with attaining what they desire. People are extremely preoccupied with achieving their goals and inside they are "selfish, competitive, distrustful, and glory seeking" " (The Story of Ethics, p.55).
Hobbes has an increasingly negative view about men in their natural state. Hobbes identifies three causes of war, namely competition, diffidence and glory. Here "every man is enemy to every man "(Leviathan, Chapter XIII). Because of their greed and because people desire the same things, war would arise. Scarcity of resources does not allow us to get everything we want and so we get into fights over things we want to possess. We become enemies and we want to kill other people that are in our way. In the state of nature, where there is no government and no laws, we are allowed to do whatever we want. So, out main purpose would be to kill our enemies in order to satisfy our desires. However, this way man would be in a constant threat. We would not be able to live peacefully and enjoy our lives. So, without an authoritarian power to enforce laws, there would be an ongoing state of war, with everybody against everybody. In such conditions, it would be impossible for men to be productive and society could not exist. There would only be "continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" "(Leviathan, Chapter XIII). 
In this natural state, a person would always have to protect himself and to be on guard. He would always have to lock his doors, be accompanied by someone, be armed and even go to sleep with fear of not being killed.


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