Social Fragmentation in the Leviathan: A Critique of Hobbes

Hobbes begins Leviathan, a primarily political work, with a description of man, whom he sees as an isolated unit, a mechanical automaton whose only connection to the outside world is through the senses. Even his thoughts are determined by external objects whose effect is translated by sensation, "for there is no conception in a manÃÂÂs mind, which hath not at first, totally, or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense" [8]. His view of men is similar to EpicurusÃÂÂ conception of atoms, a theory in which the universe consists of indivisible, eternal particles whose endless collisions affect our senses and allow us to understand the world around us. Hobbes interprets this condition, the state of nature, as one of fear and uncertainty. There are no absolute moral standards because each person experiences the world differently, finds pleasure in different things, and judges them accordingly. Hobbes assumes that the reader will be convinced by his description of human nature; he challenges him to read his portrayal of mankind and "consider if he also find not the same in himself" [8]. However, it is unavoidable that the authorÃÂÂs ideas are fundamentally influenced by his own particular experiences. If...

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