Is Hobbes right to see a state of war as ‘the natural condition of humankind’?
Hobbes’s key political work, ‘
’ proposes a thesis that
forms the basisof the Realist school of thought in Political International Relations. Hobbes has been quoted as the explanation of events as diverse as the recent London riots to the breakdown of societyin the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Hobbes’s view of the natural condition of man
kind is thecornerstone of his argument for the creation of a sovereign as the way to avoid conflict and provide the security needed for society to develop.
This paper reviews Hobbes’s basic thesis,
how he comes to his conclusion of the natural condition
of mankind. Starting with man’s
, his natural rights and his natural desires, Hobbes’s argument isanalysed. Hobbes’s argument for the three fundamental conditions of the natural world which combined with man’s natural characteristics
lead to war is then assessed. The paper concludes that while the argument is well made and logically presented. The basic premises
of man’s self
-interest and individualism are too simplistic and limited for the reliable prediction of human behaviour, it may be a possible destination for humanity, but not and inevitability.
human-nature, self-interest, desires, insecurity, competition,
In his book Leviathan, Hobbes presents us with the theoretical proposition that in aworld before society
or government, where ‘men lived without a common power to keepthem all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war…’ (Hobbes, 20
08, p 84). In
this essay I will examine what Jonathan Wolff describes as Hobbes’s ‘materialist
, mechanistview of
human beings’ (Wolff, 1996, p 9
). I will show that ‘the life of man, solitary,
sh and short’ (Hobbes, 2008, p 84
) is to Hobbes both a rational consequence of his
view on human nature and a rational requirement for man ‘to create and maintain
societies’ (Hampton, 1997, p 41). Jane Mansfield argues that Hobbes ‘reduced the world to
its analytic components of individual self-interest and built it up again from this single
(Mansfield, 1990, p 4). While I agree with Hobbes that t
his is a good predictable base ‘on