The Leviathan Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) (Primary Source) The Leviathan
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
(Primary Source) Thomas Hobbes argued that humans were naturally cruel, greedy, and selfish. If not strictly controlled, they would fight, rob, and oppress one another. Life in a "state of nature"- without laws other control- would be "solitary, poor, brutish, and short." To escape that "brutish" life, people enter into a contract with a ruler, giving the ruler absolute power in order to prevent anarchy.
Nature has made men so equal, in the faculties of the 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 such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves. . . .
The State of Nature:
From this equality of ability, arises equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies. . . .
Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man. For ‘war’ consists not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known.
In such condition there is no place for industry [meaning productive labor, not “industry” in modern sense of factories], because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building . . . no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.