This is not my normal kind of post at all, but it’s a thought-provoking one. I’m very interested in what people think about the following discussion I was involved with today with a couple of friends.
It focussed on the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679). Amongst other things, he believed that all people are selfish and that we only better ourselves for purely selfish reasons. For example, we give to charity to make ourselves feel better. That society also benefits is a handy bonus.
In his view, given half a chance, we would do anything to gain power and wealth. It’s a dog eat dog world.
Because of this, he also believed that people should not be trusted to make decisions on their own. In his view, this is a fundamental flaw of democracy. Governments are created to protect people from their own selfishness and evil.
It’s quite a confronting theory and easily dismissed. After all, who wants to be seen as selfish?
But think about it for a minute. Think about today’s world and the economic strife the world is in. Think about politicians who are more worried about populism than policies. After all this time, was Hobbes right?
- Do you agree with his theory? Are all people selfish?
- Is this the reason why the world is the way it is at the moment, because we’ve given selfish people too much power through democracy?
I don’t think I agree with Hobbes, but I also don’t have a strong argument against it. I mean, it’s not something people would freely admit, that they are selfish. I know I wouldn’t.
What do you think?