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Thursday, March 4, 2010

of Hobbes and Quarrels

Q3: Discuss the principal causes of quarrel in every society as proposed by Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes is of the view that man is exclusively selfish in all his actions and is not likely to perform any action if such an action will be of no benefit to him. It is on this premise that Hobbes begins his discussion on the causes of quarrel in the human society.
It is worth noting that in Hobbes’ view, there is in practice nothing which is objectively good or bad, but that there are only things which a person desires and that which he averts, representing good and bad, respectively.
Moving on to the causes of quarrel, Hobbes gives three main reasons why there is conflict in society, namely competition, diffidence and glory. But it worth noting that the proper context where the three causes promote conflict is found in Hobbes’ psychological theory where he states that
a. the individual is psychologically selfish,
b. the individual’s greatest desire is self preservation
c. the individual’s greatest aversion is death.
Again it is worth considering the two laws of nature (namely seeking peace in order to follow it and defending oneself by all means) and how they affect the individual’s desire for self-preservation and his aversion of death.
Considering competition as a cause of quarrel, Hobbes makes it known that nature has made all people equal in the powers they need to exist. But there is the selfish inclination within man to try to maximize his happiness, which is nothing else than the level of success one has in self-preservation. Hence he invades others for gain, leading to quarrel.
For reasons of safety, an individual may be forced to confront others. This is called diffidence. Should any threat, imagined or real, arise to cause fear in an individual’s desire to maximize his happiness, he is forced to counter that threat through any means necessary, hence quarrel with the object of his aversion.
Finally, because of man’s selfishness, he tries to assert himself over others. He thus looks for means to achieve glory which is nothing else but quest for reputation. When and individual does not wish to remain on equal terms with others, he resorts to all manner of actions to assert himself over them. Thus glory becomes a cause of quarrel taking into account that man is naturally selfish.
In conclusion, without the presence of a sovereign who would provide the needed balance to every individual’s desire, the probability is high that every person will quarrel with his neighbour, given that confrontations may arise out of desire for self preservation, aversion to fear in favour of safety or to seek glory.

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