Is Hobbes State of Nature Evident Today?
In the Leviathan, Hobbes speaks about his state of nature. Within in this state of Nature Hobbes speaks to the fact that the natural right grants every person the liberty to do what they need to in order to preserve their own life. As discussed in lecture and section, Hobbes state of nature consists of characteristics such as fear, competitiveness and self-interest. It is interesting to look further into Hobbes views and discover whether his beliefs are present in our society today.
In the world of professional sports many of the factors which define Hobbes state of nature are evident. Before the 2010-2011 national football league season, New York Jets cornerback, Darrelle Revis, decided to hold out of team training camp in demand of a new contract. Were these demands evident of Revis’s desire to preserve a better life for himself and his family? Was this holdout the result of natural fear? The NFL is one of the most violent and dangerous leagues in pro-sports and the thought that his career could end at any moment had to push him to demand this new contract. Revis’s natural right to preserve his own life through health and financial security made him believe that holding out was the best for the future of him and his family.
There is also the factor of competitiveness as Darrelle Revis has always made it clear that he works hard to be the best and therefore feels he should be paid as the best. Was there self-interest involved? Of course Darrelle wanted more money and some may consider his holdout selfish and therefore consider him self-interested but at the end of the day Revis is part of the state of nature in which there is the competitive desire between every man. Revis was doing what he felt would bring him peace and better preserve his life.
In the Leviathan Hobbes continues on to discuss his view on the social contract. Hobbes seems to believe that those who enter a contract will have no reason to uphold that contract unless there is a sovereign power or fear of the sword. Obviously, the New York Jets organization lacked that fear and sovereign power as Darrelle eventually received a new contract before his previous contract was fulfilled. He broke his original contract with no care and only faced small consequences in fines and negative media exposure. This reflects Hobbes belief that without the fear of the sword covenant is broken. This idea of breaking covenants is evident throughout professional sports today as players continue to hold out and demand new contracts before their previous contracts have expired.
Hobbes, Thomas. “Leviathan.” Modern Political Though. Ed. David Wootton. Hackett Publishing Company, 2008. 152-177.