What was Thomas Hobbes' philosophy?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main aspect of Thomas Hobbes’ philosophy was his belief that people needed to live in absolute monarchies.  According to Hobbes, this was the best form of government.  It was the only form of government, he said, that could keep human society orderly and peaceful.

According to Hobbes, life in a world without government (in the “state of nature”) was terrible.  He describes this as the war of “all against all.”  In such a state, each person would be out for themselves.  There would be no authority to prevent every person from stealing from, enslaving, or even killing any other person.  People would have lived as individuals, trying to dominate others and trying to keep from being dominated.  They would have been constantly at war with every other person in their area.  In this anarchic situation, Hobbes famously said, life would be “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”

In order to avoid this sort of a situation, people create governments.  Hobbes said that the best form of government was an absolute monarchy.  An absolute monarch would have the power to prevent people from abusing one another.  Any other kind of government would lead to competition between people and, eventually, to a return to conflict between people.  Society could only be safe and orderly if people voluntarily surrendered all their power to an absolute monarch.  This is the most important aspect of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.

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