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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Leviathan

The weekend was absolutely beautiful. I spent it in great conversation with good friends, enjoying the gorgeous weather and relaxing as much as possible while trying to read everything I needed to for school. For school, I had to read an excerpt from Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. Hobbes writes about natural laws, though I couldn't discern whether the he feels that the natural laws he speaks of are actually in effect, or need to be effect for society to work properly. The part I really had trouble with, however, is that Hobbes believes that people are in a perpetual state of war, against one another. He feels that if people were not worried about their own lives, then they would kill everyone else, because that would be to their benefit, they would then be able to have whatever they wanted. But fortunately, we are all afraid of others killing us, so we don't kill them, and therefore we live in a state of peace. What troubles me so much about this is that Hobbes doesn't leave much room for friendship, love for other people, or empathy between humans. (It makes me wonder if he had any satisfying relationships in his life.) His outlook is so stark, and without a sense of human connection, I feel he misses what makes humanity what it is. Yes, humans differ from animals because of their ability to reason, but I think we also differ because of our ability to care for one another, and feel real emotion and love for others. I don't feel that I don't murder others because I am afraid of retribution, I feel I don't kill others because I have a real respect for human life, other people's as well as my own. Reading philosophy like Hobbes always makes me a little sad, because I think it takes our humanity away, and turns us into animals, while I think the point of philosophy is that we are so much higher than other animals. I hope Hobbes is wrong about us.

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