Hobbes: Man is a wolf to man

hobbes wolf

Men and violence : Hobbes Anthropology

The Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, is a great book of political philosophy, for one simple reason: Hobbes theories have based our most modern political systems.

The Leviathan chronicles the adventures of the modern politics from the primitive state of man, that Hobbes described as a state of “war of all against all“, dominated by reports of bestiality, until the establishment of the civil society. And it is from this premise, “man is wolf to man“, the English philosopher builds his theory of Leviathan:

Whatever the result of a war where every man is enemy to every man, also a result of a time when men live without other security than what their own strength and their own capacity to invent their give. In such a state, there is no room for a strenuous activity, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation, no use of imported goods by sea, no building suitable for any device move or lift things as require much force, no knowledge of the earth’s surface, no measurement of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, worst of all, constant fear, and danger of violent death and life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short


The Leviathan rests on the idea that men can not agree because they are too suspicious. So you need a third to make them respect  each other. The Leviathan is this third party, the force which binds the guardianship contractors.

To establish this transcendent political force, the men must surrender their natural liberty and the Leviathan and transfer the power of coercion and force. To what benefit? In exchange for their natural liberty, the Leviathan protects his subjects and their property.

In the background, it is interesting to note the deep pessimism of Hobbes on the human nature, which must be such that it must be countered by a transcendent political force. Leviathan is the peaceful response to the instincts of human destruction. Politics aims to civilize man. We are far from the classic review of Hobbes’ Philosophy, which tells us that Hobbes advoctaes a pure absolutism.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Hobbes: Man is a wolf to man, May 10, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 10, 2012, https://www.the-philosophy.com/hobbes-man-is-a-wolf-to-man.

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