Natural condition

Offer an analysis of chapter 13 of Hobbes’s Leviathan. You should use continuous prose for this, not bullet points or a list. Your analysis might include the following: 1. What are the crucial elements contributed by this chapter? 2. What does Hobbes understand by our natural condition? 3. Are there any unwarranted assumptions or logical inconsistencies in the argument in this chapter? Can you identify any inconsistencies in Hobbes’ reasoning? 4. Do you find the claims advanced here especially convincing or flawed? If so, why? Thomas Hobbes, an English Philosopher from the 17th century, wrote a book on the topic of human nature and also its connection to the government.

In chapter 13 of Hobbes Leviathan, Hobbes talks about how men of nature are all equal to one another. All men are similar as “Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of body, and mind”1. People are all created biologically alike, though some may be smarter or stronger than others; we all possess the ability to learn. With time, everyone will be able to know what everyone else knows, particularly if everyone commits themselves to learning about everything which can be obtained and known.

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Hobbes goes on to say, “from this equality of ability ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends”2 . Since every man is formed equally, they are also created with the wishes and desires to attain their aspirations and dreams, which can cause disagreement if two men wish for the similar thing, yet cannot have it. “And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end, endeavour to destroy or subdue one another”3. As an equal in culture and society in which he resides, every man thinks he ought to be able to have whatever he wants, even when others yearn the same.

These men will strive for the object of interest, alongside with all others who desire the same object, ultimately resulting in war and man against man. The nature of man is described as three component, competition, diffidence and glory. These are the natural state of man. Each man possesses these components in order to gain power or success. As mentioned before, man will compete and ultimately fight in war.

Furthermore, Hobbes talks about natural condition if mankind. Natural condition of mankind is what would be if there were no civilization, no government, no laws, and no common power to control human nature. The state of nature is “of every man against every man”4. Since men are all equal then they desire the same things and become enemies along the way. Humans repeatedly seek to damage and destroy one another in an relentless chase for power.

Life in the state of nature is “solitary, nasty, brutish and short”. Moreover, Hobbes insists that naturally man will compete with man because, everyone is equal, we’re all born with the same abilities and strengths thus, we think alike. Since we think alike, we desire the same things which lead to rivalry and competition. But because man fears death, he must give up some of his desires and this will provide peace.

Hobbes makes valid and consistent points however, there may be some inconsistencies. An inconsistency may be the idea of natural condition of mankind and peace. Hobbes claims that man will compete with man in order to get what he wants, but for peace man must give up some of his desires because he fears death. The problem here is that if man is equal to man and we think (naturally) alike, why should one have to give up his desires? Surely competition can be healthy bringing about success.

If every man gave up some desires then they would be at the bottom of their field. If competition and glory are natural then how is it possible to change this? Natural states are pure and embedded in man thus, instead of trying to prevent development of these qualities it should be encouraged to maximize human ability. Yet, Hobbes argument of man vs. man is convincing in hindsight. Men do compete and ultimately leads to rivalry and war. But, humans are fundamentally driven by happiness and the principle of giving up their desires and goals would be idyllic but isn’t realistic.

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