Hobbes Leviathan Essay

1905 Words8 Pages
Why for Hobbes is the desire for power so central to his conception of the ‘natural condition of mankind’, which can only be remedied by the creation of an absolute sovereign? In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes outlines the necessity of the existence of the state given the natural conditions and inclinations of mankind. This essay shall discuss what the natural condition of mankind is, particularly in relation to its desire to power, and how this condition can only be rectified by the creation of an absolute sovereign. Hobbes contends that as humans, we are egoistic. We act selfishly in order to survive. This idea is often understood as Psychological Egoism, which Kavka defines as “the doctrine that all human action is selfishly motivated”. This idea is central to Hobbes’ idea that in the State of Nature, a hypothetical situation in which there is no form of government, humans will live in a state of universal conflict. Kavka describes this as “the perils of anarchy”. It is not just this universal egoism, however, which results in this conflict, but rather humans’ insatiable desire for power. Hobbes describes this inclination when he writes “I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of Power after power, that ceases only in death”. Hobbes defines power as the “present means to obtain some future apparent Good”. This equates power as being the means to achieve a goal or purpose, which seems rational given the forward looking nature of humanity. This definition by itself, however, has no implication on our relationship with others. Hobbes elaborates, arguing that power is a concept in which there is an excess of one’s power over another. Power is, on this basis, a relational concept. Read points to this when he argues that “Hobbes has a zero-sum understanding of power: one’s gain is by definition another’s loss”. This results in a
Open Document