Contract ( Essay, Research Paper
The purpose of this paper is to interpret and support Hobbes’ version of the social contract. I will support Hobbes’ version of the social contract based upon the opinion that it seems logical in that men are, by nature, egocentric. Humans spend their lives looking for what makes them happiest, this includes charity works. Those who do such acts, in the end, feel better about themselves and therefore, it feeds their egos. In other words, socialization among men is for purposes of personal benefit and not for building strong relationships between men. For purposes of this paper, I have interpreted “social contract” as man’s interactions with one another through the transference of “rights” (86). To begin with, Hobbes’ idea of the state of nature is that nature (including man) is beautiful, yet viscous. Man, in fact, is more dangerous than the animals because he has the ability to reason. This ability makes man compete for things that are not tangible, like honor and dignity. This supports Hobbes’ idea that man is self-centered and desires power (64). He has based his conception of mankind on the idea that all men are equal, even if others possess different strengths and talents. He argues:For such is the nature of men that, howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty or more eloquent or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be so many so wise as themselves, for they see their own wit at hand and other men’s at a distance. (83) Hobbes’ is trying to establish man’s image as being self-centered. He is trying to prove that it is man’s ego that drives man’s actions and those actions will therefore create a never-ending cycle of competition, which he calls “war”. We are in a constant struggle with other human beings and ourselves and that leads to social contracts. He says that war does not mean “actual fighting”, but any time that man is searching for some kind of gain, safety, or reputation (83). The social contracts provide us with the needs we are trying to fulfill. We transfer our rights in hopes of some “right being reciprocally transferred or for some other good” (86). For example, two people can exchange or trade things to achieve their own individual satisfaction. However, according to Hobbes it can also work in the negative sense because that is the nature of man. An example of this is if someone steals another’s possession, then that person may go out and get it back by stealing one of the same from a different person, creating an endless cycle. After all, it is all about personal satisfaction and gain. Hobbes’ attempts to prove this through using the Golden Rule found in the Gospel as an example. “Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them” (86).
The escape of this endless cycle is what Hobbes refers to as the opposite of war, and that is “peace”. Hobbes believes the reasons men strive for peace is: Fear of death, desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living and a hope by their industry to obtain them (85). According to Hobbes, this state is necessary. He states that the “first and fundamental law of Nature is ‘to seek peace, and follow it’” (85). However, we also have the right to defend ourselves. He supports peace by stating that it is necessary in order to have industry, use of commodities, communication and the existence of society (84). However, it is each man’s individual desires for these things that make peace possible. Humans use social contracts to achieve both levels of war and peace, whichever one is fitting for the moment. It is of my opinion that humans develop relationships with one another for self-advancement. Therefore, I would have to agree with Hobbes’ version of the social contract. We transfer our “rights” to one another for our own benefit, feeding our egos. We are brought up learning to be the best. Children are taught to be competitive, to be better than others. We are given rewards for our personal achievements from early age throughout our advancements in the working world. Our government, for example, builds relationships with other countries to ensure our peace, or we go to war to fight for our peace. Either way, for personal or societal benefits, we do things for our own good. I believe that though Hobbes may appear pessimistic, his idea of society is truthful because it is our nature to be competitive and self absorbed in order to survive and also obtain that which is important to us. We differ from the animals, which, also by nature, have to be competitive in order to survive. Our survival techniques differ only because we were born with the ability to reason. Given the choice of peace or war, we will naturally choose what is best for ourselves and/or our country. Thus, our social contracts exist in order to communicate back and forth in order to exchange goods, ideas, etc. that bring us happiness, or at least contentment.