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Hobbes II

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A Ripstein

Lecture III 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). Understanding Society 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 others. 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
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