Hobbes v Locke

The two philosophers I think about the most these days are Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Hobbes argues for the absolute regime and Locke for the liberal state.

Overall, my worldview is more aligned with Hobbes. In the state of nature, you most often find: “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

In dangerous situations, a Hobbesian hierarchical corporate top-down society is more adaptive while in times of peace, a rights-based cooperative open society works better. Sometimes people are better off with an intense in-group identity and at other times, such as in Western big cities today, you’re usually better off operating with a Lockean moderate in-group identity with considerable openness to some types of strangers (such as those who share your profession and preferences).

In dangerous situations, a Sparta-like military state is most adaptive, and in other situations, an Athenian-empire approach works better. For most nations, nationalism is more adaptive than empire building. For most people most of the time, an above-average in-group identity is more adaptive.

In every community, there are obvious truths you should not say out loud if you want a happy life.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.