Essay on Hobbes vs Hume

Words: 991
Pages: 4

Prathyusha Guduru

In the history of philosophy, two of the most prominent philosophers were Hobbes and Hume. Both made important contributions to the world of ethics. One of the main important things they differed on is reason. Hobbs felt that reason is way to seek peace but Hume felt the reason is only a slave to passions. In the following paragraphs, you will see how Hobbes and Hume explain their different views on reason the theories of the two philosophers are analyzed in depth, so that we can have a comprehensive understanding.

Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher published his masterwork, the Leviathan, in 1651. This book influenced western philosophy with its view on the Social Contract theory. A social contract
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Reason's role in guiding actions is limited to its utility in helping by fulfilling the desire to the passions. From these passages, we can see that though they were similar on some aspects, their teachings were mostly very different. Hobbes felt that we should all strive towards peace as rational beings with the ability to reason. And that we should “treat people as we would have wanted to be treated” and shun vices like cruelty, inequality and other things. Although Hume also says that we have to show “sympathy” towards our fellow humans and that we can be selfless and put others’ needs before ours through empathy, he feels that reason is only a “slave to the passions.” He feels that virtues and vices are natural and that justice is “artificial.” Hobbes says that the natural state of man is very miserable but we can get out of it through altruistic means like cooperation, compassion, etc and by thinking with reason. And to him, the doctrine of The Laws of Nature is the true moral philosophy. But Hume feels that passions, strong, original perceptions, are responsible for moral distinction, rather than reason. The passions like desire, happiness, and sadness arise directly from “good or evil” or pain and pleasure. He doesn’t mean that reason doesn’t play any role in moral distinction but that passions are much more dominant than reason. Hume says that Reason can give us a list of choices we have based on facts but what choice we