Essay about Hobbes: Iroquois and Hobbes

Submitted By a_kphan
Words: 1693
Pages: 7

Hobbes’ Theory and Why I Agree With It The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that human beings are born selfish in nature. All that people have ever striven for was survival of the self by whatever means necessary. The species came to be thought of second and survived through reproduction. As such, Hobbes greatly simplified the human condition making life out to be nothing but repetitive actions, dark, and cultureless. “…he espoused an uncompromising metaphysical materialism about human nature, treating life as a motion of the limbs, sensation as motion within the bodily organs, and desire as whatever state or process inside the body causes bodily movement” (Stevenson). When Hobbes developed his theory, he was living in the time of the English Civil War, and it had a resounding impact on his notion of human nature. The overall goal of his theory was to prove the need of an absolute monarchy to rule over the people. To start at the beginning, Hobbes believed that if put humans into an environment that was considered “uncivilized”, like the tribesmen in Africa, the people would then become savage and fend for themselves. Hobbes calls this a “state of nature”, humans in their natural state of existence. It is in this state where mankind is openly violent with one another, taking only what they want and thinking of no one else. They would steal and kill for food, water, shelter, and any pleasures that they desire. “And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies... [and] endeavour to destroy, or subdue one another” (Hobbes). Eventually, the fighting would become so bad that humanity would enter into a “state of war”, where everyone is involved in the fighting and the world is thrown into chaos. It is through this that the absolute monarch will be established. When humanity “rationally realizes” that the “state of war” is doing them no favors in their chances for survival, they will enter into a social contract with someone that they deem fit enough to rule all of them. In return for protection and safety, they will give up their “right to everything”, which is what they had been acting on before in the “state of nature”. After they have entered into a social contract, the monarch will reign over them and, according to Hobbes, all will be right in the world again. While there is no perfect example of Hobbes’s political theory, the closest that comes to it would be the Iroquois confederacy. It is made up of five different nations; the Mohawk, the Seneca, the Oneida, the Cayuga, and the Onondaga. They all came from the same general region and had similar linguistic backgrounds. However, that did not stop them from going through a brutal period of infighting. On top of the inner conflicts, they were also in danger of being attacked by the rival surrounding tribes, the Algonquian. The ruler during this trying time was an Onondaga chief, Todadaho. Legend has it that he was a psychotic cannibal, he feasted from the skulls of his enemies, and had snakes in his hair that allowed him to kill people with a glance (Hall). Deganawidah was the name of one of the men who would save the Iroquois. He was a Huron and was apparently able to venture into Iroquois land unchallenged. It was there that he met his future companion, Onondagan, a cannibal. It is told that while Onondagan was preparing to consume his most recent victim, Deganawidah watched from the roof. Onondagan saw Deganawidah’s face on one of his pots and thought it was his visage he was seeing. He thought that his beauty greatly conflicted with the ugly act of cannibalism. He reformed immediately, buried the body of his victim, met his new master, Deganawidah, and changed his name to Hiawatha. These two would become the saviors of the Iroquois. It was Hiawatha who removed the snakes from the evil chief’s hair and convinced all of the chiefs to accept Deganawidah’s