What fundamental claim about human nature did Thomas Hobbes make?

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I would actually suggest that Hobbes' fundamental claim (the root assumption from which his larger thought extends) is that human nature is, at its core, materialistic. Indeed, when reading Leviathan, note that it does not begin with political theory or discussions on the State of Nature, rather it begins with an explanation for how individual human beings think and operate. Note, for example, the following passage, taken from the book's first chapter:

"4. The cause of sense, is the external body, or object, which preseth the organ proper to each sense, either immediately, as in the taste and touch; or mediately, as in seeing, hearing and smelling: which pressure, by the mediation of the nerves, and other strings, and membranes of the body, continued inwards to the brain and heart, causeth there a resistance, or counter-pressure, or endeavour of the heart, to deliver itself." (Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. J. C. A. Glaskin, Oxford University Press: New York, 1996, p. 1)

When taken as a whole, Hobbes emerges as a materialist, who envisions human beings in terms of being a kind of biological machine, in stark contrast to traditional Christian views on the soul, or to Cartesian dualism. This is one of the aspects of Hobbes' thought which made him so controversial in his own time (even among the Absolutists, who tended to adhere to Divine Right Theory), and it serves as the foundation on which so much of his thought tends to rest.

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Thomas Hobbes is an interesting character, because his views during the Enlightenment are different from many of the other Enlightenment thinkers. Hobbes believed in the idea of a strong leader in charge of a nation. It is important to take note that Hobbes lived during the English Civil War. Hobbes developed a belief, likely influenced by the war, that humans were naturally evil and selfish. The terrible violence of the English Civil War helped lead Hobbes to determine that people needed a strong leader, possibly a monarch, to keep them in line. Hobbes did, however, contribute to social contract theory, an idea that would later become more popular with philosophers like Rousseau. Hobbes believed that people, fearing a chaotic society caused by human nature, needed to surrender some of their freedom in order to establish a civil society. This meant giving up some freedoms to a government in order to live without constant fear of violence and death.

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Hobbes's most important claim about human nature is that it is inherently bad.  Hobbes believed that human beings were not naturally meant to live together in society because they were essentially too selfish.

To Hobbes, people are, by nature, likely to come into conflict with one another due to their inherent selfishness.  This is why he famously argued that life in the state of nature was "nasty, brutish and short."  Because of this inherent badness, people need to be controlled relatively harshly.  It is for this reason that Hobbes believed that socieites needed to be headed by strong despots.

Hobbes's basic claim about human nature, then, is that human nature is inherently selfish.

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