Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) on the Causes of Conflict

I have come to think that it is time Thomas Hobbes is retrieved from conservatism and made more generally available as the first philosopher whose main aim was the preservation of peace. I found this interesting:

‘So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second for safety; and the third for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.’

Thomas Hobbes The Leviathan 1651

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict History, Conflict Processes, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Philosophy of Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) on the Causes of Conflict

  1. Thank you for sharing. There is so much to discover in Hobbes work. Always when i read his words i find something new there.

  2. Ted Seay says:

    What I find interesting is that Hobbes’ list is so seldom linked back to Thucydides’ list of conflict triggers from the 4th century BC: Self-interest (kerdos), fear (phobos), and reputation/honor (doxa).

    Matches up pretty well, don’t you think?

    • Thanks Ted. I am reading Thucydides at present and yes I agree, matches pretty well, though in the current political climate of the world, I would probably add kamikaze death wish and destruction of self interests. Self interest, fear and reputation don’t quite do it for me these days.:) Hobbes doesn’t say anything about embracing a Leviathan that increases disorder.

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