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in Hobbes Leviathan

In Leviathan, Hobbes argues that all humans are like machines in the way that humans are made of completely of matter. He takes the materialist thinking a step further by claiming human psychology is mechanistic as well. Because of the mechanistic psychology of humans they are in a way predestined to be in a state of war without a common power to set down rules in which all subjects abide by. Hobbes argues this from a purely mechanistic viewpoint.

Hobbes describes the Universe as a “plenum” made completely and only of matter. Nothing exists in the universe that is not matter. He expands this materialist view of the universe further by depicting a material bodies knocking into each other and shows the passage of motion from matter to matter. Challenging vitalism, Hobbes claims that matter cannot move itself but rather “when a thing is in motion, it is eternally be in motion” unless another body of matter interferes with it. This continuance of motion is a focal point for Hobbes in describing sensory perception in humans.

Hobbes asserts that sensory is very much materialistic as well. When external bodies of matter engage with the sensory preceptors of the body, the external bodies cause the preceptors to go into in motion and in turn the body (or brain) senses the external matter. Very much in the same way Hobbes describes human thoughts. He puts an unusual claim to man’s body by saying it is in “continual motion” . Thought is only a continuance of motion derived from sense. He also states that not everyone feels the same way toward anything all the time let alone all men be able to agree that everyone has an appetite for any one thing .

That idea gives way to a new idea called ethical relativism. This idea states that there is no such thing as an absolute or universal good or evil. Only that when a person likes something he calls it good and when he dislikes something he calls it evil. The words good and evil are only used in relation to the person that uses them. What may be “good” for one person may also be “evil” for another and thus there is no such common rule of good and evil . “The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where this is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice, Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues…[t]here be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man’s that he can get, and as for so long as he can keep it” . In the state of nature there is are no rights except the right of nature which says all men are at liberty to do whatever he believes will preserve his life. Without rights or laws to abide to, covenants made in the state of nature are impossible because there is nothing to enforce the covenant nor law to appeal to. Unlike Locke’s state of nature where God’s laws are still in effect, Hobbes’ state of nature is synonymous with the state of war; If there is no common good and evil than people cannot agree to certain set of standards and people’s personal standards will inevitably come into conflict with one another leading to a state of war.

The state of war is further advanced by two fundamental ideas of human nature. The first idea being that all men are equal in ability and hope. Hobbes uses the example that even the weakest person is capable of killing the strongest in some manner. In this sense, no man is invulnerable to another and all have an equal ability. The second idea is that all men’s strife for power is universal, future oriented, and boundless. Whether it be control over tangible goods ( land, crops) or intangible goods (esteem, honor, value), not all of it can be obtained by every man. Because neither power nor possessions can be obtained by everybody this leads men into competition with each other over these issues and because all humans are equal in ability there will be a constant struggle between people leading them into a state of war.

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