Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was a philosopher and author during the Enlightenment (1588-1679) who had a very cynical look on man. He didn’t believe in the soul or that there is a thing such as good or bad, instead he viewed man as machines who only pursue or avoid different things because of their own “mechanical” desires. He believed that we avoid pain and pursue pleasure mechanically, as an example of our “mechanical” desires.

This may seem like a dull and pointless view on man, but it is in fact very much like what modern science are telling us about how we and our bodies function today.

In Thomas Hobbes’ time, atheism was almost unheard of. To claim that there was nothing like a soul must therefore have been shocking to people who heard his claim of the soul being non-existent. Today, however, with atheism being wide-spread all over the world, countless people no longer believe in such a thing as a soul. Instead, they believe that the brain and body controls everything about us, which is similar to Hobbes’ ideas.

We’ve learned considerably more about our brains and bodies since Hobbes was alive, and I’m sure that if Hobbes was alive today he would be able to prove and back up more of his theories, which he never really did.

Thomas Hobbes may have been wrong about many things, but he sure was onto something. And science can prove that we do pursue pleasure sort of “mechanically”, since pleasure releases for example endorphins in our body, which makes us happy and want to experience more pleasure. Pain, however, is something our bodies do not like, and therefore try to avoid.

However, if you would ask a very religious person today, that person would probably think that Hobbes was wrong about the soul and the existence of good and bad. I, however, have never believed in a soul and therefore consider Hobbes right about this, but someone else may completely disagree. There may not be a clear answer to this until man has been able to prove if God exist or not, and if everything the church and bible tells us is right. If we do discover that God does exist, than Thomas Hobbes was probably right about this. Or God may have created us to operate “mechanically”, or even created us without souls. We may never know for sure.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a God exists but he created us without souls, so that we will disappear into nothing when we die anyway? Or would it be better if we do have souls but will burn in hell for eternity because of our sins, since everyone are born sinful?


For more information about Thomas Hobbes, see:

Also, Thomas Hobbes is “alive” today in a popular cartoon, Calvin and Hobbes, as the toy tiger Hobbes. Many of Hobbes ideas are reflected in this cartoon. Here is a nice link so some of the comic strips:


By: Lia

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