Hobbes and the State of Nature (Continued)
January 16, 2014
What is the state of nature
• Not understood as a social state overcome, but rather as a dark shadow that
necessarily accompanies any state of order/organization.
• With the sovereign, comes a unified set of meanings and way of think and using
concepts – one of the under represented aspects of Hobbes’ theories. The idea of
conceptual order and thought in meaning is very important to Hobbes – relates to
the imperative of modern government.
• Hobbes prescribes an aweinspiring order as a response made in fear, to (the
threat of) anarchy and chaos in the world.
1. Can you think of a real contemporary or historical example of the state of
nature? Was it solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short? Explain.
THE MARS ONE PROJECT
The future (permanent) expedition to Mars has the potential to develop into the
state of nature.
• Have no contact with other societies.
• No established order.
• No government structures, systems, or state institutions in place. This
includes currency, healthcare, market or economic activity, or trading.
• Unprecedented and ultimately uncontrollable.
• Rights and obligations have yet to be determined and prioritized.
• Under no legal jurisdiction.
• No military force, police, or authority.
• Solitary – no other cities, states, forms of life (that we know of), etc.
• Unpredictable living and climate conditions.
• No resources to sustain survival.
• Trench warfare in WWI.
Hobbes’ State of Nature
• IF Hobbes is wrong, is his political prescription still necessary or relevant?
Can it still be considered applicable to any situations – past, present, or future?
Why does this matter?
• What would the implications be if Hobbes was wrong?
• Perhaps Hobbes could accommodate. • For Hobbes, humans are naturally antisocial and antipolitical – Aristotle
Let’s Get Critical
• For Hobbes, because human nature operates in a certain way, the state of nature
functions to respond to this natural condition.