Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy

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Moralism and the Hobbesian quest for social peace: the role of the self

F Offor


In his political theory, Hobbes presented a pathetic picture of a „state of nature‟ (devoid of all the restraints of morality), from where the people came to some form of rational calculations on the necessity for a political society that would guarantee social peace. Although, Hobbes‟ goal was not primarily to evolve a moral theory, but because the socio-political situation that precipitated his theorising was such that was beginning to defile all known rules of morality, it becomes imperative to extrapolate his views on morality from his general philosophical construct. The main attraction here, that justifies questing into Hobbes‟ moral suppositions, is his detailed analysis of how the state evolved out of the desire to stamp out anarchy, and in its place, entrench morality, rules, justice and eventually, a stable social order or some semblance of social peace. The essay however finds that Hobbes‟ central arguments upon which he built his idea of morality betray some inconsistency in terms of coordination, systematisation and methodology, and presents these as justifying reasons while his quest for social peace may not have been fully realised in the society of his days.

Key words: Thomas Hobbes, State of nature, Political society, Morality, Social peace,

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