Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Thomas Hobbes

Why I Like Thomas Hobbes and You Should Too

People are sometimes surprised to discover how much I love Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes is the political theorist who wrote Leviathan. He presents a pretty grim account of human nature–for him, people have conflicting desires in a world of scarcity, they don’t know each other’s intentions, but they do know that they can hurt other people and that if they do so other people will be intimidated and might not hurt them. We can’t share thoughts and feelings because each of us is stuck in a different body and words are vague and unreliable, so we’re always alienated from each other and always prone to conflict. Hobbes wants to live, and he wants everyone else to live too, so he proposes that we solve this problem by submitting to the state. The state protects us from each other, and once we’re protected a space for trusting other people opens up.

Most left-wing people hate this. They hate that Hobbes even presents an account of human nature in the first place, much less one so grim as this. They especially hate how powerful Hobbes makes his state–he only allows people to defy the state when it threatens their own lives, and while he’s willing to tolerate a sovereign parliament Hobbes certainly prefers monarchy, because in his view it’s less likely to lead to conflicts about where the sovereignty is, which could end in civil war and death.

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The Starks are Not the Good Guys: Morality and Game of Thrones

I’m a big Game of Thrones fan (both the books and the show), but there’s something that sets me apart from other fans–I hate the Starks. It’s my view that they are without question the most villainous family in Westeros, far worse than the Lannisters. This is a controversial view, but hear me out. I think I have a pretty strong case.

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The Inevitability of Cooperation

I’ve been thinking lately about why we cooperate with each other–why we form communities and states. The typical Hobbesian answer to this question is that we cooperate in order to protect ourselves from violence. There is truth in that answer, but security concerns, while a primary motivator for cooperation, are not the only motivator. This is important, because there are those who oppose cooperative institutions on the grounds that a world without cooperative institutions isn’t as dangerous as Hobbesians commonly believe, suggesting we should become total individualists (e.g. anarchists, transcendentalists, etc.).

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