4 Sep 2022


Levaithan by Thomas Hobbes

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Hobbes is well known for his political philosophies of the two great passions of fear and pride. According to Hobbes, pride is the desire of rich and powerful people since it is their desire to rule over other people and the desire of the poor and powerless people not to be ruled. Hobbes also refers to pride as the passion for preeminence. Additionally, he acknowledges that people with pride want to come first and to be seen to be taking front positions in the race of life. Pride is characterized by overflowing confidence about the ability to excel ((Hobbes, 872). Hobbes is seen to be a great debunker when it comes to human pride. He compares pride to vanity and vainglory. Pride, he says, is an exaggerated confidence in the ability and power of a person. 

Hobbes finds a major problem to be averted because of pride. Besides pride, fear is a great universal passion that Hobbes has. Death may come to the human at any point and may take any form of nature. However, Hobbes exaggerates this by making fear of death appear as if the state of nature that death may come in is an existential condition where death may come at any given moment. In the book, Hobbes dramatically overemphasizes the fear of death ((Hobbes,123). Fear is seen to be the desire of avoiding death and losing in life. Fear comes from the desire of avoiding dishonor and shame of being viewed as losing out in the great race of life. Both passions of pride and fear have social qualities that come with the desire of avoiding shame and of esteeming one’s confidence ( Hobbes, 1994). 

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Hobbes says that every human being contains a crucial cardinal character of his moral psychology of how other people view them. According to Hobbes, everyone has warring elements of fear and self-assertion. Fear might be due to the consequences of self-assertion. The book Leviathan is based on a biblical metaphor that talks about subduing and overcoming pride. Hobbes refers to fear as the passion for reckoning and be reckoned on. According to him, human beings sue for peace and abandon the state of nature not for any other reason but fear. The fear of death is the biggest passion that inclines human to peace. However, this does not imply that fear is the strongest passion of the two. Hobbes believes that relatively many people are not afraid of death as much as they should be. He talks of the religious zealot who was ready to sacrifice his life and those of others to seek heavenly rewards. Also, he talks of the proud aristocrat who risks death for the sake of honor and an individual climbing Mount Everest to gain honor and boot esteem. Hobbes intends to make his audience realize the dangers involved in taking pride and the benefits of having peace that come with fear. 


Hobbes, T. (1994). Leviathan (Edited by Edwin Curley).

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