This mans will to hurt ariseth from Vain glory, and the false esteeme he hath of his owne strength; the other's, from the necessity of defending himselfe, his liberty, and his goods against this mans violence. (Chapter 1, Article 2)

This is saying that humans act the way they do in the state of nature because of a vain sense of glory. That one's actions are constantly towards ones personal benefit, and that humans think much of their own strength and will always defend his own against others.

Does this mean that humans seek out violence and conflict because they simply want to exercise their "right" to all things, or because they seek conflict for the glory and exercise his own strength for respect, and simply because he can?

That Peace is to be sought after where it may be found; and where not, there to provide our selves for helps of War (Chapter 2, Article 2)

In this he says that in civil society one must seek peace if peace is possible, and that this supercedes all else. So, what about this situation:

Say you were being bullied and the bully violently demanded money from you constantly. Does Hobbes believe that you should fight back, and gain honour, while at the same time protecting your own goods; or to escape, protecting your own yet losing honour and respect?

One option seeks peace, the other war. Another way of asking the same question would be, does this situation merrit a breaking of peace? Has the bully broken the barrier so that peace is no longer possible?


Hobbes would probably not tell you to fight back and gain honor, because your first quotation indicates that he looks unfavorably upon what he calls "Vain Glory."

Given that quotation, he would probably say that if you actually try to retaliate against the bully, you would have that very "false esteeme" of your own strength; any honor you gain would be false, and only meaningful to yourself. The bully has been dominating you, so you either fight back and fail, or you succeed but gain nothing but vain glory. It's a lose-lose situation, because inevitably either your body or your mind will experience a loss (vain glory, to Hobbes, is negative for the mind. It leads you to see yourself as above others, while he says that all are equal in their rights).

However, if you were to seek peace, he would likely praise you for being reasonable. In your second quotation, he explicitly says "that peace is to be sought after where it may be found." He only says that that you should prepare for war if peace can not be found. Also, note that he says that even if peace can't be found, you should prepare for, but not declare war. From the quotations, it seems that Hobbes treats war as a last resort. Therefore, the victim of the bully would do best, from Hobbes' perspective, to escape from the situation.

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