Hobbes on the state of nature Notes for October 1

Main points

The theme of the day was the differences between Hobbes and two ancient authors: Aristotle and Plato.

Next time, I’ll finish with the explanation of conflict in ch. 13.

A qualification

One of the most dramatic departures in Hobbes’s philosophy is his materialism. That very much sets him apart from Plato and Aristotle.

But I should warn you about trying to make too much of it for our purposes. There just isn’t a direct line from materialism to his political philosophy. That mostly rests on observations of human behavior that Plato and Aristotle made as well. They just didn’t fully appreciate their importance, in Hobbes’s opinion.

Materialism makes its most dramatic impact when Hobbes was discussing religion. That was relevant to politics in his day, but it’s not a topic that we will devote a lot of attention to.

Key terms

  1. The three main causes of conflict in ch. 13: competition, diffidence, and glory.
  2. What a “dominant strategy” is.
This page was written by Michael Green for Social & Political Philosophy, Philosophy 33, Fall 2012. It was posted October 1, 2012.
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