Evrigenis’ The State of Nature in Response to Hobbes’ State of Nature

With reference to: Hobbes and Evrigenis

Fun Fact: What I found most difficult about Evrigenis’ writing is how overwhelming it can be with so many other works and terms referenced within. I had to keep flicking back to his keyword section or re-read sentences many times. I had to keep rereading individual sentences all the time when the ‘Leviathan’ was mentioned because it wasn’t in the keyword section and my first thought when reading ‘Leviathan’ as a word is to always think of the mythological sea serpent creature. Turns out, the work ‘Leviathan’ is actually referencing Hobbes’ 1651 text Leviathan. Please prayer for me that I develop more brain cells as couldn’t find any while writing this post.

Ioannis D Evrigenis’ chapter ‘The State of Nature’ from Images of Anarchy: The Rhetoric and Science responds to Hobbes’s State of Nature. Evrigenis discusses the paradoxical nature of Hobbes’ political thoughts with regards the state of nature. Evrigenis suggests that the theory has become widespread is because these types of theories showcase how humans are shaped by their experiences and environments in a way that allows us to want different things.

Evrigenis argues that Hobbes’ theory is embedded in the idea that humans are fearful – that humans are shaped by their experiences and environments in ways that lead them to want different things and seek to protect themselves. This weaves into concept of summum malum. Summum malum within the context of this reading refers to Hobbes’ idea that humans live with ‘radical uncertainty.’ They are driven by a fear of a violent death and this makes attempts at living a communal life impossible. Instead, Hobbes says that humans are solitary creatures.

Hobbes’ state of nature also has a place in modern political theory which sees his ideas as a reasonable exception to the rules – making it important to understand how this theory can link to the importance on having laws and a governing system that can hold order of peace. Hobbes suggested three parts to a system: body, man, citizen. Hobbes identified the summum malum as his own ‘starting point.’ Hobbes believed that humans desire different things and will work towards what they want out of fear. With this attitude, it makes it easier for humans to ‘submit’ to a fairly minor inconveniences of a life under a government; since we already understand that life will have some inconveniences.

Evrigenis explains that Hobbes argues this point because there are two principal attributes in his state of nature: anarchy and equality. These are the consequences of a life without a common power. For Hobbes, these two attributes make state of nature a condition based in uncertainty. Therefore, this is something that people would rationally want to leave behind as under anarchy the system’s focus is on war and international law, while under equality the focus is internal arrangements and issues like obligations and rights.

I believe that the argument is persuasive because Evrigenis is discussing how Hobbes’ State of Nature theory relates to governing systems from a theoretical viewpoint by analysing what Hobbes proposes.