Monday September 19 th2011
Of Conflicts in and of human nature
People are complicated machines driven by their own appetites.
Being alive is to be constantly seeking power. The essential nature of
humans is to be able to do what they want; whether that want is
immediate or for the future. We always want more.
Thus, to be alive is to always struggle for the power to get what you
want now and in the future.
We are also comparative by nature. Since humans are able to make
comparisons, they are always curious about how and where they stand
in relation to others (humans tend to look at themselves in relation and
comparison to others).
The proper way to understand society is to understand it as being
artificial, even though it is made up out of certain natural parts. Society
is still not self regenerating. However, in order to understand this
artificial body, we must understand the natural things that make it.
Thus, we must also understand men in a natural state.
Is Benevolence Possible in this View?
In Hobbes view of human nature (always looking for power and being
competitive) it is hard to see how empathy, benevolence or the like is
ever possible. Note however, that Hobbes has not said anything about
the subject of desires. He hasn’t said anything about what people
want, just that they all want, all the time. Thus, you can still care about
However, caring about others and caring in general is differential.
This means that one cannot equally care about all other people, just a
handful. This leads to problems of a different kind. For example, you
want to help Person A, but Person A wants to help Person B and Person
B wants to help you. This will put us back into competition.
Yet, there may not always be conflict. It may be the case that people
will want to get along with one another or their desires will coincide. In
the end, Hobbes is telling us that people will do whatever they find it
most important to themselves, whatever that may be. The Three Types of Conflict
Hobbes outlines three types of conflicts in the state of nature. These
conflicts will explain and shoe how the state is the only solution to the
state of nature.
When conflict is extreme, the power of last resort is to kill someone. So
strength is not the ultimate ‘power’ to have. For people may band
together to kill one person, or one may take measures while the other
is asleep at night. People are not always equal in power and
intelligence but they are equal enough to have prospects of winning
and getting what they want (via strength or intelligence). There is no
better measure of equality than the fact that people are satisfied with
their own share. People think they are as intelligent or more intelligent
that others. Thus, people will not think it necessary to defer judgement
to others. This is what leads to conflict in the first place.
(1.) Competition: Humans do not think of themselves as very
competitive. However, people always think for themselves and of their
own needs and priorities. The general structure of the idea is that one
would do whatever is to their own advantage and so will everyone else,
thusly leading to conflict. The idea that you, yourself, will contribute to
the larger and final pr