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Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts Essay (Book Review)


According to Thomas Hobbes, human nature is driven by social contracts, which refer to a common understanding between people of a society based upon moral standards and norms. Moreover, he states that social contracts are adhered to due to the reason that human beings want to secure their rights.

Hobbes, as a tutor of philosophy, has worked largely on understanding and explaining social contracts and their significance in human lives. In his work, he has highlighted moral standards, which are considered important to be followed by individuals in a society to be called civilized society. The adherence to social contracts requires that individuals refrain themselves from doing such acts which are not in accordance with the moral and ethical norms. In a more simplified form, a social contract is the exchange of promise among the members of society.

Continuing his discussion on social contracts, Hobbes has mentioned two stories. In the first story, he assumes that no moral, ethical and binding norms exist in the society, and individuals are seeking their personal goals only without considering the implications of their actions. He further states that in such circumstances, the balance in the society is disturbed and individuals with greater authority and influence can fulfil their needs.

In contrast, those who are weak remain deprived of their basic necessities. Such a scenario, he states, gives birth to lawlessness and criminal activities among individuals of society. The second story is in complete contrast to the first one. In short, Hobbes points out that disparity would lead to lawlessness in the society, and oppressive behaviour among individuals will be common. On the other hand, if law and morality exist in society, then people will avoid such acts.

Moreover, Hobbes also highlight that it is important to understand human behaviour concerning its appetitive self-interest and competitive nature. Almost all people are appetitive and seek their self desires. However, Hobbes’ appetitive self-seeking and competitive human model is further extended to the Darwinian version. Darwinian view, however, can be seen as not completely supportive of Hobbes’ view.

According to Darwin, people struggle for existence in the form of a group while in Hobbes’ view, people compete for their existence individually. Human nature is changed according to its different surrounding conditions, and there will be a drastic change in human nature in the future.

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IvyPanda. (2021, January 13). Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-on-human-nature-and-social-contracts/

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"Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts." IvyPanda, 13 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-on-human-nature-and-social-contracts/.

1. IvyPanda. "Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts." January 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-on-human-nature-and-social-contracts/.


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IvyPanda. "Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts." January 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-on-human-nature-and-social-contracts/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts." January 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-on-human-nature-and-social-contracts/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Thomas Hobbes on Human Nature and Social Contracts'. 13 January.

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