PHIL 240 Chapter Notes -Thomas Hobbes
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Believed also that self-preservation was the ultimate goal of mankind, but also
believed that humans were capable of benevolence.
Does not doubt that a modern citizen, corrupted by society, would behave as
Hobbes depicted. However, objects to the State of Nature as described by Hobbes
and Locke, who are accused of projecting the qualities of civilization onto the
Believes man to be born capable of the State of Nature, but that he is
corrupted by society.
Does not advocate a return to a State of Nature, for that is impossible for man
that is corrupted by society; nevertheless, he expresses regret at the present
Argument that man in State of Nature will be compassionate is not based on the
existence of a natural moral code, as in Locke, but his belief that man is naturally
harm-averse, and will seek to minimize/avoid it in himself and in others.
Therefore, Rousseau's view is emotional, and not necessarily logical.
Admits that while a strong savage would avoid harming a weak if an alternative
method of self-sustenance was available, this compassion would not be strong
enough in the case of resource scarcity and competition.
Argues instead that savage has few desires, and goods would be less scarce.
Believes the savage to be a solitary being, with most social relationships as they
exist now non-existent in the State of Nature.
Rousseau's savage would not have family, no language, and little foresight. His
only desires would be food, sleep and sex.
Rousseau's State of Nature lies far in pre-history, and unlike Hobbesian
competition, it is ingenuity and capacity for self-improvement that spurs the
growth of human civilization. Co-operation is one of these ingenuities.
However, as soon as Man begins to covet “luxury needs”, or objects that are not
necessary for survival, he has been corrupted.
Language > opportunity for comparison > pride, shame, envy, revenge
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