Leviathan

Human Equalities According to Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes lays his political foundation on the explicit assumption that men are equal in strength and prudence. Strength refers to bodily strength, and it is equal among men because each individual theoretically has the capability of killing any other individual. Prudence is a sort of crude cause-and-effect reasoning that experience confers to people, and experience is gotten through “time, [and] equally bestowes on all men, in those things they equally apply themselves unto” (87). Finally, out of these two equalities he derives the “equality of hope in the attaining of our Ends” (87), which means that people have equal hope or ambition in attaining their goals. Despite the fact that he builds his philosophy on several basic equalities, he still advances arguments against Democracy and for Monarchy. Monarchy he defines in the usual way, as a government ruled by one man. Democracy is “an Assembly of All that will come together” (129); in other words it is an Athenian type of popular democracy, where any person with an interest may participate in the governing assembly. In considering the possibility of private interests superseding public interests, Hobbes’ arguments against democracy and for monarchy take into account...

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