14 October 2008


Hobbes seems to understand that all people are in a war against all to live fulfilled lives, or get what they want in life.
Society is built upon competition. Business is competition. Jobs are competition. Love is sometimes a competition. Fighting for what you want is a social norm. When you get what you aimed for after this war, it makes it all worth it.
Human Nature has made people, and therefore society, competitive and willing to fight whatever is in the way for what they want.
I know that my thoughts always take me to movies, songs, or books, but I think they are some of the greatest teachers of philosophy and human nature. one song by the receiving end of sirens called "the war of all against all" triggered. I never thought about it in a hobbes view and thinking about it in that way has helped me understand the song more.

Look alive, gentlemen
Or fake your deaths; your wounds undressed beneath your costumes.
Some are so well rehearsed
For hearses it hurts, always the first to wave the white flag
And barricade themselves
In false pretenses, fox holed in trenches.
Forged casualties with casual pleas,
Dying to please the enemy
We die to stay alive, we kill to survive

We are the corp of corpses,
We are up in arms and armed
Bring all the king's horses and all the king's men

Push on, plod on, these legs like pistons pumping forward motion.
Convalescent men in uniform.
We have fallen to friendly fire, shrapnel freckles our spine.
Still our feet fall one by one.
Although it also has to do with war, it also reminds me a bit of Hobbes. People fight to stay alive, and kill to survive.

Rousseau's innate goodness

Rousseau also believed, like myself, that all people are born innately good. All people are born with a clean slate, and they choose what to do with it. Although, like all things, there are exceptions.

Nature vs. Nurture plays a big part in this in my mind. If you grow up in a hostile environment, it is possible that you will lead a negative, and possibly violent life. Ex: Hitler
HOWEVER, there are persons who pull themselves out of hostile environments to live extraordinary lives.

Now does this mean that some people may actually be born evil, regardless of the nurturing they receive? Some philosophists do believe this point, and it may be true in some cases. I know kids who have the nicest parents, but they are just pure evil. Did something else, like a bully, trigger this evil behavior? This may also be true.

Does society cause evil? Can we blame society, like death metal and movies, for making kids evil? Or horribly depressed? One quote from a book reminds me of this fact. It's from High Fidelity, written by Nicholas Hornby.
What came first?
The music or the misery?
People worry about kids playing with guns or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands, of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.
Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?
Although this is a good point, no one can actually pinpoint what makes serial killers, and what makes people so depressed that they don't want to live anymore.
Even though the situations and behaviors are various, I still believe, like Rousseau, that people are born good. They are born to be parts of society without causing trouble, and are 'forced' into a society built upon competition and values.

rousseau's forced to be free

Rousseau's theory of human nature was one I agreed most with. Rousseau's theory of being "forced to be free" made so much sense to me. Although we as Americans are essentially 'free' is freedom really free? There definintely are some social norms that free people are shoved into, although they might not see it as necessary. For example, the social norm has always been to go to school, get a career, get married, have kids, retire (hopefully). Now, although there are exceptions that find the strength to take a different path, most Americans take this course, regardless of happiness. So yes, essentially, we are free, but we are forced into situations that are 'normal'. Usually citizens who take a change of path, are judged or questioned for not following social norms. It's clear that Rousseau understood that people are free by force.