Hobbes and why do we hate people similar to us

by chaotarroo

Thomas Hobbes, the father of Leviathan, was a prominent figure in the 17th century for his contribution in political philosophy. Similar to Machiavelli, who preceded him as an influential thinker during the renaissance, Hobbes had a distinctively skeptical view on humans and was an advocate on what democrats would refer as Absolute Monarchy today. He felt, I quote, that a society without a powerful government would be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. In other words, if Hobbes, a man that lived till an exceptional age of 91 during his time, were to be alive as I type, both his hands would be erected and high up in support of the ISD and the Burmese police.

For the idealist that thought otherwise, Hobbes had an infamous thought experiment for them. If you honestly believe that people are good by nature, why do you lock your doors when you leave your house? The idealist would argue that it’s merely because of a handful and vile few that would happily enter your house and rob you of your belongings and using that feeble sample size to speak for the entire populace would be unfair.

To which, Hobbes violently disagreed and believed that humans are all congenitally selfish and it is precisely so that makes us capable of understanding the selfishness in others. Hobbes extended his argument by asserting that if society were to break down and if the goods of the idealist are stolen from without regulation it is only a matter of time before they start to steal and be nasty. Although the idealist can refute by saying he is only acting to survive under those harsh conditions, he can never deny that selfishness is truly an in built quality in all of us.

“If there exist another of you, you would definitely hate the person”, quips the bored cheerleader trying to make an intelligent conversation. If it’s true, why do we?

I think the cliche is profoundly related to Hobbes’ cynical belief that it is only through our own selfishness can we see it in others. Syllogistically, it is only through our own demented thoughts can we understand the evilness of others. Analogously, and perhaps falsely – if you would pardon my excessive use of awkward adverbs – the healthy man can never hear what the deaf man does.

As humans, a species more developed and demented than any other, we are containers of agendas. We are more conscious of everything we do, praying not just that it will be written in the good books of others but that it will be written the way we want it to be. It is never through spontaneity that we perform what we do , but for good or bad, consciously or subconsciously, our actions are concomitantly followed with an intent. Eg. I may not be writing this piece of essay just because I enjoy writing it while hoping the internet will find it informative but I am doing so because I am a pseudo intellectual and I am dying to appear to be smart. And the reason why the words you just read is intelligible – if it is – ,is because it’s a heuristic that you often experience as well. In contrast, a toddler will not be able to understand what you just read not because these strings of words are too complex for him to appreciate but it’s a malicious concept completely unknown to him as many areas of him brain have yet to grey.

Returning to the question, if another of you existed, whose actions resembles you uncannily, you wouldn’t be able to help but hate him. Because of your familiarity with his tendencies, you look beyond what he does and pries into what he’s thinking when he does it and his thoughts can never be simple because they are your thoughts which are, in fact, multi layered agendas.