Thomas Hobbes’ Absolutist Conception of the StateJune 28, 2021
The British philosopher Thomas Hobbes identifies the state as an unnatural artificial object in his work called Leviathan.
In ancient state theories, the state was determined as a natural entity. According to Hobbes, who wants to build his political philosophy on mechanical principles, the sovereignty of the state should be absolute.
The state is something created by people coming together, just as bodies in nature come together to form things. According to Hobbes, the fact that the state is not a natural body but an artificial body does not mean that its existence is not necessary, on the contrary, the existence of the state is necessary. “As all human actions are determined by compulsory reasons, the state is also necessary” (Dinçer 2010, p. 194).
Seeing the state as the effect of necessary causes shows the effort of Hobbes to explain the state on mechanical principles. Hobbes also explained this necessary existence of the state. In other words, he revealed the reasons for the necessity of the existence of the state.
According to Hobbes, the state is an unnatural, artificial body that is necessary and consists of people coming together.
Hobbes moves from an assumption to justify this necessary existence of the state. This assumption is the state of nature assumption. According to Hobbes, the state of nature is a state of war. In Leviathan, Hobbes sets out the reasons why people in the state of nature delegate their unlimited power to one person or body. Hobbes mentions that in order to understand the existence of the state, it is necessary to understand the human first and shapes the state view based on the understanding of the human. The first of the naturally possessed features of human beings is a desire for power, which is unceasing and ends only with death.
Hobbes describes the state of nature, which is a state of war, as follows: Every person has a right over everything with the right he receives from nature. The state of nature is a state of war where there is no supreme authority and no laws other than the laws of nature, absolute freedom and absolute equality prevail. “In such a situation, everyone has the right to everything, since everyone acts with his own reason and can use whatever can help him to protect his own life against his enemies” (Hobbes 1993, p. 97).
However, according to Hobbes, if everyone has a right to everything, that is, “As long as everyone has this natural right to everything, no one, no matter how strong and wise, can have the assurance of surviving until the end of the time that nature normally allows humans to live. ” (Hobbes 1993, p. 97).
This means that people have no right to anything. He says that if someone else has the same or stronger right to a thing, it doesn’t make sense for you to have a right to that thing. Thus, a situation arises in which everyone has a right over everything. If a person attacks another in order to have this right, the other person will respond with his right to the same thing. That is why people begin to live in a state of nature in a constant state of insecurity.
This state of nature, in which everyone has a natural right to everything, is a state of unlimited freedom, and this unlimited freedom is the cause of insecurity in this situation. This insecurity also leads to a state of war. “When people live without a general power to keep them all in fear, they are in that state of war; And this war is a war of all against all. Because war is not just about combat or the act of fighting, but consists of a period of time when the will to fight is strong enough” (Hobbes 1993, p. 94).
Hobbes took the name of his work from a giant named Leviathan mentioned in the holy book and compared the entity called the state to it.
Hobbes’s assumption of the state of nature is the state in which all people have unlimited freedom and right to everything and therefore live in insecurity.
According to Hobbes, everyone who wants to live in such a state of war and insecurity, that is, in this state of nature, where everyone has a right over everything, is in contradiction with himself, since everyone wants their own well-being by nature. This situation is contrary to the nature of people to want their own well-being. For this reason, Hobbes also describes this situation as the war of all against all. In such a case, “Man is the wolf of man” (Homo homini lupus). As a result, in the case of nature or war, “There is always the fear and danger of violent death; and human life is lonely, poor, wicked, brutal, and short-lived” (Hobbes 1993, p. 94).
Hobbes expresses the war of all against all in the state of nature with the Latin homo homini lupus, meaning Man is man’s wolf.
According to Hobbes, for peace, for the safety of one’s life and property, that is, for the sake of one’s own well-being, everyone should be willing to give up their right to everything, since others agree to the same thing. Hobbes said, “Man should be content with having as much freedom over others as others have over him.