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Human Nature Essay

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Essay title: Human Nature Essay

Many philosophers have taken special interest in examining the condition of human beings outside of the influence of civilization. They have stripped this situation down into what they termed a “state of human nature”. However, from this point, the theorists’ views have separated into different perceptions of how the “basic” human being would behave and act prior to the development of society, state, and laws. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke have provided influential in-depth explanations as to the circumstances of human nature that describe a human being as antagonistic individual who is required to have a sovereign govern over him so as to not inflict violence or intrude on another’s rights or property. On the contrary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau offered a radically different analysis from the previous theorists’ conceptions by strongly arguing that the “savage man” is much more content than the civil man in which there is no need to cease being in this particular condition.

Thomas Hobbes was a very significant philosopher, who had lived his entire life in fear. This fear he possessed was quite evident in one of his works, Leviathan, where he provided a depiction of a sovereign commonwealth whose purpose was to preserve peace and prevent human beings from submitting to a state of all against all. In this particular piece of work, Hobbes was incredibly detailed on his notion of a human being. He made the argument that every part of the human body is matter in motion, in which this continuation of movement is responsible for the development of thoughts or imagination due to the human sense apparatus setting off cycles of new motions (8). Another product of the perpetual activity and interaction of matter is appetites and aversions that is what comprises the individual (28). This provides the reader with the astounding explanation that human nature itself is the mechanical invention of physical processes, which contrasts traditional theories that place humans as creations of God.

Building upon his scientific explanations, Hobbes then moved on to make the claim that all human beings are naturally equal since the maxim of “survival of the fittest” does not apply in the Hobbesian state of nature, where even the weakest of individuals would be able to slay the strongest (74). It is, thus, a condition of absolute equality where it could be contended that it would be rational to be cruel and murderous, while it is considered irrational to be generous. Ultimately, this would result in a state of war, which is inevitable. There are also other factors that contribute to a state of war, which would include:

… first, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons, or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name. (76)

With these components, Hobbes provided his ultimate description of a state of nature where war and violence is constant, and the concepts of death and fear are always lingering. This situation is one where there is no authority to enforce the law with individuals living in accord with the virtues of selfishness and passion. Fear, especially, is what instigates a person to attempt to escape the horrible conditions of war and from the state of nature. Evidently, this feeling of horror and the yearning to preserve life would then naturally cause humans to search for peace through a social contract and the construction of the Leviathan.

Despite the first law of nature, which claims that “that every man ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it, and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war” (80), humans always have a innate hunger for power which acts as an incentive to break contracts designed to uphold peace and stability. Hobbes claimed that since some individuals have an indefinite amount of desires, they would then have an unlimited need to attain power from the hands of others. Arising from this is the greatest self-interest and passion of preserving one’s life at the expense of another and the sense that one could do what he or she wants at no cost. To control the situation, there needs to be a sovereign authority, such as that of the Leviathan, to which individuals would surrender their rights to, in order to successfully provide peace and escape the conditions of a state of nature. However, if it is no longer capable of fulfilling its duty to protect, then the commonwealth has collapsed and its subjects are released from

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