Hobbes, Thomas: Moral and Political Philosophy&[Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]


See, Hobbes was concerned that, with the American Civil War, society was under the threat of becoming a civilization without a state, with the government overthrown and no central body to organize, and oversee the lives and actions of the people. He wrote an argument in support of the civil state, imagining this “state of nature” as eventuating into a state of war where we would forsake our moral code, not simply in order to survive, but to thrive.

Galileo had come upon his principle of the conservation of motion. Instead of asking — like many of those before him had done — why a cannonball stays in the air once fired, he insisted we should be asking why it eventually comes to land. Hobbes said that since we have no frame of reference to understand how our lives would be in the state of nature, we should try to understand human nature. For this, he encouraged deep, honest introspection. But he also said that being made of the same matter, we should apply the same rules to ourselves we would to any other object. According to the cannonball, we would navigate a moral course through the state of nature, until it just became too hard, and then we would stop. We move in one direction until we are tired, until the resistance is too much, until friction slows us, the world acts upon us, and then we are brought to a halt.



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