chapter  4
30 Pages

Political Philosophy

In each of his three books on political theory, Hobbes describes how a civil state arises from the state of nature. Each new description becomes a bit more sophisticated than the earlier ones. In the first of these, The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, Hobbes says that in the state of nature, “every man’s right (howsoever he is inclined to peace) of doing whatsoever seemeth good in his own eyes, remaineth with him still, as the necessary means of his preservation.” He continues: “And therefore till there be security amongst men for the keeping of the law of nature one towards another, men are still in the estate of war” (EL 19.1). The only way to achieve this security is by each member of a group to unite:

Uniting this way by covenant creates the obligation in the subject such that he resigns “his strength and means to him, whom he covenanteth to obey” (EL 19.7). The result of this process is that men are united “as one person” (EL 19.7).