3. Select any two passages below from the Leviathan, and for each passage you have selected,
discuss as fully as you can: a) the context in which it is written; b) the meaning of the
passage; and c) the relevance of the passage to Hobbes’attempt to explain how we can
achieve peace and the good life.
(ii) “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” Leviathan, page 106.
Hobbes says in order to understand how to achieve the best life and form of society, we
need to imagine people outside of society. He refers to this understanding as ‘pre-societal
existence,’which is based on the passions (wants), fears, and expectations (of what
people want in life). Hobbes says that life in pre-societal existence would be intolerable,
every person would be an enemy and the world is essentially a war against all. Hobbes
believes you can never get a prescription from a description. Take for example the
statement, “I am older than you, so you have to do what I say.(I MADE THIS UP)” This
statement has a description (I am older than you), and a prescription (you have to do what
I say). Hobbes holds that you can never describe a situation and tell someone what he or
she ought to do. People fight each other and attempt to kill, they create certain theoretical
concepts which they believe to justify what they are doing. These concepts are directed
towards preserving life. He explains that when one is in a state of war, and trying to
transition to a state of peace, what you have to do is alter these theoretical concepts. They
can be used both to justify war and to justify peace; he believes that within each of us
there is a capacity both to justify making war and through the same concepts the capacity
to make peace and live harmoniously. We need to find out these concepts and understand
how they operate in state of war vs. peace, we must internalize these theoretical concepts
and adapt in the same way.
Hobbes discusses three factors that lead people to the war against all; these factors are the
concept of power. He discusses original power, which is something we are born with such
as strength or intelligence, whereas instrumental power is power that arises from a tool.
He discusses that in the state of nature, there is never any fixed amount of power that is
good for you, and in the state of nature there is an ever-increasing power desire –
everyone is your enemy. He outlines that what is true for you, is true for all and the
struggle for power creates a conflict. Material goods turn to be instrumental power, such
as money, property, etc, which can be converted into weapons for or against you.
In regards to this quote, Hobbes says here that certain people take a joy in acquiring