|The Battle of Edgehill|
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was one of the 17th Century’s greatest political philosophers. Hobbes is also one of the most prominent philosophes for the international relations philosophy called realism. Having lived through political disintegration, which ended up becoming the English Civil War, he sought to discover rational principles in order to construct a civil policy that would not be destroyed from within. One of his famous, controversial philosophical views was the state of nature.
To understand what the state of nature is, Hobbes invites us to imagine what it would be like to live in a society without any form of government. How would we fare in a state where we had to decide for ourselves on how to act? What would happen if a dispute occurred? Hobbes believes that people, no matter where their moral compass stands, would either act for themselves or for those that have a close relationship to them. This is what Hobbes calls the “the condition of mere nature”, a state of private judgment.
Hobbes believes that the state of nature is also a state of war because of each person’s bias towards their own well-being, which he calls “the right of nature”. The right of nature would inevitably lead to a divisive struggle over resources. Hobbes states that one might preemptively strike against another person in fear of their own resources being taken from them first. Also, disagreements over religious views, moral beliefs, and so on would only add fuel to the fire.
Without any common authority to resolve such disputes, Hobbes believes that the state of nature could easily become a state of war, or worse, a war of “all against all”.
The state of nature is something that Hobbes believes is condition that occurs “at the beginning of time” or in “primitive” societies (Hobbes thought that Native Americans lived in such a way). Hobbes also believed that a state of nature would occur in 17th century England if the king’s authority was ever to be undermined, with there was no suitable replacement to step into the King’s place.
As a result of his philosophy for the state of nature, Hobbes believes that people need to submit to absolute political authority in order to maintain peace. He reasoned that if there was a threat of a conqueror, people would submit to them in order to gain protection. Essentially, he believes that fear should be the means to control people, which leads into what he believes would be the ideal model to rule, an absolute monarchy.
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hobbes-moral/#StaNat http://www.iep.utm.edu/hobmoral/#H4 https://www.britannica.com/topic/state-of-nature-political-theoryhttps://www.britannica.com/topic/state-of-nature-political-theory http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/alevelphilosophy/data/AS/WhyShouldIBeGoverned/Stateofnature.pdf