The Great Philosopher – Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes was born at Westport, England, on 5th April 1588. His father, Thomas Sr, was a small preacher of Westport. His childhood is almost unknown, and his mother’s name is unknown. Thomas Sr, Hobbes father, was involved in a fight with local clergy and was forced to leave London. Then Thomas Sr’s brother took care of the family and paid for Hobbes education. Hobbes did well at school and won himself a place at University of oxford where he studied from 1603 to 1608. Hobbes is best known for his book Leviathan. Other than political philosophy Hobbes has also contributed to different fields, including history, geometry, the physics of gases, theology, ethics and general philosophy.
The English Civil War
The beginning of 17th century was a time of great political, religious and economical agitation in England. There was a long-lasting conflict between the monarch and the parliament. Since 13th century the parliament emerged as an opposition force to the monarch rule, the monarch of England tried to suppress it, but at the beginning of 17th century the struggle took form of a full-fledged civil war. In 1629, English king, Charles I, began to rule without consulting the parliament. In 1640, after struggling for 11 years, parliament tried to abolish king’s rule. In 1942 Charles I attempted to suspend the parliamentary rule, and gave rise to civil war. For next 11 years there was no monarchy in England and in 1660, a new government on basis of constitution was formed. But things did not settle really for about 30 years. During this period Hobbes came up with his new concept of political theory. By late 1660’s Hobbes had written two tracts; Human Nature, or, the Fundamental Elements of Police and De corpore politico, or, the elements of law, moral and politick.
Hobbes’s Political Philosophy
Hobbes came out with his first attempt in political philosophy in 1960, with his book Human Nature and De corpore politico. In 1642 he wrote DE CIVE, and in 1651 he wrote the third version of book entitled “Leviathan, or The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil”. Hobbes compared state to a monster, composed if men, created under pressure of human needs. The main practical conclusion of Hobbes’s theory is that a state or society cannot be secured unless the sovereign has the ultimate power. He follows the view that no individual can hold rights of property against the sovereign, and sovereign can take goods of its subjects without their consent.Hobbes tried to incorporate scientific methods with his political ideology which seems to be a limitation to his theories. Hobbes believes in a state where every human is equal, and the state is the supreme authority, and no one can rebel against the law made by them According to Hobbes traditionally there are two types of law: natural law and Positive law. Hobbes belonged to the school of ‘positive law’. For him the characteristics of law are:
Law Is Emerged From a Definite Source i.e. Law Can Be Made Only by the Sovereign
The law comes with the power of enforcement; no one can oppose or rebel against the law.
He believes that it is important to create a fear of punishment in order to imply the law because people may observe law if they think it is of their interest. They may not observe the law if they think it is against their interest. Hence, Hobbes quotes it as “Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words,This quote can be proved by implementation of “Article 15 of Indian constitution in Indian society”. Article 15 of Indian constitution states prohibition of discrimination on the ground of religion, race, cast, sex, or place of birth. The right to equality includes equality before the law and prohibition of discrimination on ground of religion, cast, gender. However, the article doesn’t prevent the government from making special provision for women and children. Further, it allows state to extend special provision to economically backward class, specially schedule castes and schedule tribes.The article was passed in 1951. It has been 68 years since the article has been passed, still the law has not been implemented fully. Discrimination based on cast, religion and colour is still faced by people on different societies.
Religious Voilince in India
It includes act of violence by followers of one religion against followers of other religion.Regional violence in India has generally involved Hindu and Muslims. From 2005 to 2009 period, an average of 130 people died every year from communal violence. Over 2012 about 97 people died because of religious riots. USCIRF has charged Hindu nationalist groups for their campaign to “Saffronize” India through violence. All of this is seen as a violation to the article which prove the point that covenant without sword is nothing but words.
Although being a democratic country, equality is yet to be attained in India. Basic rights for women are hard to practice.Women make up about 48% of Indian population but have never benefited the economy equally. Every year about 239000 girls, under the age of 5, die because of child mortality. Women in India earn 19% less than men, which reflects the gender pay gap in the country. These genders discrimination is a violation of the article.
There are about 3000 castes and 25000 sub castes in India, each related to specific occupation of community. Majorly in India, Dalit communities undergo the cast oppression. Being a schedule tribe, they are not allowed to use the privileges that are being used by upper cast About 165 million people in India have been justified based on caste. There is this obnoxious hierarchical castism problem which, even today, people associate with, it is so crucial to eradicate this structural problem to make this a ‘liveable society’.Racism, sexism, gender inequality, racism, can be seen in India even now. These things go against the law of equality.
Thomas Hobbes’ Book Leviathan: the Unique Human Nature’s Ideas
Man’s State of Nature and How Ideas Are Formed
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both have unique ideas about human nature and the way that ideas are formed in humans’ heads. Predicting human actions and analyzing what causes them is not something that can be easily done, but these writers have different opinions on how to do just that.
Hobbes insists that all humans are born with alike minds and mindsets. He also thinks that humans all have the same strength. He says 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 as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he,” (95). Meaning, although one person may, indeed, be stronger or smarter than someone else, it is not by a great amount.
So, in a state of nature, where all people are basically equal, they will also share desire for the same things. Although it is possible for everyone to acquire what they desire, people get greedy very quickly. Once there is not enough for everyone to have as much as they want of something, conflict will arise. Hobbes is saying that this “war” in inevitable. In fact, Hobbes is quite sure that men are constantly in a state of war, simply because of their mindset. He says, “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,” (96), meaning he believes that someone must be in charge for order to be in place.
Hobbes makes it very clear that he believes that there can be no peace without law and order. Laws set up boundaries as to what is right and what is not, and how far a person can go to fulfill their desires. However, law cannot be put into place until “they have agreed upon the person that shall make it,” (97). Without some kind of government or an obvious person in command, no man will be afraid to break the laws that are set up. With law, comes justice. If one were to disobey their leader, there would be repercussions. According to Hobbes, this system is the only thing that will keep mankind from war. His ideas and this theory help us to understand why we need someone to dictate what we can and cannot do, and what will happen if we go against orders. He makes it obvious why conflicts arise and what can be done to prevent them from doing so.
Locke, on the other hand, has a bit of a different view on this subject. He believes that all humans are born with a sense of tabula rasa, or a blank slate. He says, “Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas: How comes it to be furnished? …To this I answer, in one word, from EXPERIENCE,” (101). In this, Locke is stating that all human ideas or concepts are formed through living, and are most certainly not formed on their own.
He writes in great detail about how ideas are formed through sensation. One can use their senses to understand the world around them. Locke says, “And thus we come by those ideas we have of yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter, sweet and all those we call sensible qualities; which when I say the senses convey into the mind, I mean, they from external objects convey into the mind what produces there those perceptions,” (101). Humans perceive things in a certain way, through observation, and these observations then help to form ideas and theories.
He then goes on to say that ideas may also be formed by reflecting upon the ideas that come from these senses, and by understanding and reasoning with those ideas. According to Locke, external forces “furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce in us; and the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations,” (102). Based upon his views, humans cannot form original ideas on their own at all and instead, they take inspiration from everything around them and form ideas based on what already exists.
Overview on Thomas Hobbes Psychology Theory
One of the greatest contributors to modern-day psychology, in my opinion, would have to be Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), a contemporary of Descartes. Hobbes was a mechanistic thinker and saw living organisms not in terms of the whole but as a sum of the parts (Atkins, 2017). This was a very unusual way of looking at human beings as well as all other living creatures at his time. To illustrate Hobbes’ idea, think of a human in terms of being like a machine—a cell phone, for instance. There is the phone, as a whole, that can be broken down into parts: the battery that gives the phone life, the camera, the dial pad, etc. If one of these parts is taken away, then the phone cannot function. Hobbes viewed humans in these terms—as machines working in a much larger machine (the universe).
Although Hobbes was greatly influenced by Descartes, Hobbes differed in his idea of what separated man from beasts. It was the soul. The soul gave man consciousness (Atkins, 2017). Therefore, we can say that Hobbes was a materialist, because he believed that everything in the world and everything that has existed and will ever exist is physical. We can also assert that he was a machinist, because he believed that everything in the world worked like a machine (even humans). He is an empiricist, because he believed that all knowledge was derived from sensory experience, and he was a hedonist, because he believed that human behavior (as well as non-human behavior) was motivated by the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2009).
The work of Hobbes opened the door to modern-day cognitive psychology—how we perceive, how we think, how we act, etc. For Hobbes all ideas came from prior experience or sensory experience. He made the assertion that all mental activity could be explained by sense experience that results when the motion of external bodies stimulates the sensory receptors thereby causing internal motion. For him the brain was just reacting to what was happening around it. In fact, he denied the idea of a non-material mind (Fitts, 1970).
I believe this attempt to better understand the driving force behind behavior was one of the most important contributions to modern-day psychology. Although I do not quite agree with Hobbes’ views, I can still see the value in trying to understand human behavior, especially during his lifetime.
Thomas Hobbes’ Book Leviathan: Escaping the Human Nature
In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes is describing what makes up the core conditions of human nature and the constant state of war people face with each other from living in a state of nature. The state that humanity lives in now has come about after struggling in a crude and primitive state of nature, where every human being is in conflict with each other for their very own survival. Humankind without a centralized government or community is always in a state of war or conflict with each other. In this state, humans are always surrounded by death, lacking the necessities that are crucially needed to survive, which prohibits their ability to live in peace and advance into a community or society. The only way for humans to escape a state of nature is by creating a social contract with one another to establish a community that can be civil with each other.
Hobbes also wrote about how all men are created equal by nature, and that every man can attain their needs either through physical conflict or “secret machination” with each other. One man can have more physical strength over another, but another may be stronger in mind with more intelligence; therefore every man is ultimately equal to each other. If a man is equal to another man from having equal talents and abilities, then man will never fully reach true equality with one another, leading to a constant state of war with one another. According to Hobbes “And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in a way to their end endeavour to destroy or subdue one another. And from hence it comes to pass that where an invader hath no more fear than another man’s single power, if one plant, sow, build, or possess a convenient seat, others may probably be expected to come prepared with forces untied to dispossess and deprive him, not only of the fruit of his labour, but also of his life or liberty. And the invader again is in the like danger of another.”
The nature of human beings is made up from three principal causes of conflict with one another which according to Hobbes is “First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly glory.” When humankind lives in a condition without a common goal or purpose, then they are living in a constant state of war that pits “every man against every man.” Whereby the war waged is not only actual physical confrontation with each other but also the will to live and survive throughout time indefinably. Since every man is an enemy to each other during a time of war, humanity is not able to flourish and progress. Hobbes painted a very bleak description of the effects from being in a constant state of war in the Leviathan when he said that “In such condition there is no place for industry, because fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor the use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no art; 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.”