Not going to lie, the quote by English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, “nasty, brutish and short” portrays a rather pessimistic tone. Through his famous book, Leviathan, where he expresses his views about the nature of human beings and the necessity of governments and societies. From the strong reaction towards the publication of Leviathan, the disagreements with his theories of human nature are raised. Hobbes, like Machiavelli (an Italian philosopher) viewed human beings in a low light, whereby all humans are basically selfish and driven by fear of death and the hope of personal gain. All of us seek power over others, whether the realisation comes to us or not. However, if the view of Hobbes does not sit well inside your stomach, there is always going to be somebody who will happily steal everything you own, but it can be argued that there are some people that are selfish in that way. However, Hobbes disagrees with Machiavelli’s ideas as at heart we all are selfish, but the rule of law and the treat of punishment will keep us in a sense, sane.
The consequence of this, Hobbes argued was that if the society broke down and had to live in what he called a ‘state of nature’ without the presence of law or anyone with power to embody the sense of authority, everyone else in this society would steal or even murder when viewed as necessary. Especially if it meant continue living or surviving. Using an example of living in a world with scarce resources and the ability to find food and water was challenging, the rational thought of killing other people would more beneficial than killing yourself. Through this Hobbes’ description of life outside society would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
However, Hobbes’ theory did not end there, he wanted to find a way out of an undesirable situation.
This way of solving this undesirable situation was the development of a power individual or a parliament in charge. The individuals in the state of nature would have to sign a ‘social contract’ in order to enter the part of the society. This also meant that they had to give up some of the freedoms that they had that were considerably ‘dangerous’ in order to ensure the safety of the others in the society. This was called a ‘sovereign.’ Without it, life would be questionable. Through the sovereign would give the right to punishment if anyone who committed a crime.
Whether it is agreed or not, Hobbes is and was an influential political philosopher whose ideas continue to make a impact to the world today.