The Way to Freedom is Alone

In the 13th chapter of Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes writes "…men have no pleasure, but on the contrary a great deal of grief, in keeping company, where there is no power able to over-awe them all." The unconventional premise that ungoverned humans are solitary beings echoes throughout Hobbes' political philosophy.This is a very difficult ideology to have at the center of such a work.The vast majority of the world's population holds the opposite stance.Most people believe that humans are naturally communal beings.
Thomas L. Pangle's Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham addresses man's natural inclination to be part of a group."Birds fly in flocks, fish swim in schools, and man has his tribe. That is as natural as you can get."Banishment from one's tribe (once) meant death.Alone, one is assumed susceptible to the attack of foes.Being alone is largely equated with weakness.There is a commonly held fear of being alone.This is why the mindset found in Leviathan is quickly rejected.In order to understand what Hobbes attempts to communicate by stating "men have no pleasure…in keeping company," it is essential to establish his alternative to having company.
Hobbes' statement about men not finding pleasure in the company of others is often dismissed because of a misunderstanding.A reader of Leviathan could easily equate being alone with loneliness.After reading this passage many times in context, one may decide quite the opposite.Hobbes wrote of solitude, rather than loneliness. Solitude is desirable and voluntary, whereas loneliness is unnecessary and involuntary.Superficially the two seem alike, but truly they are very different.Many famous literary works speak highly of solitude's power.Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden: "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."Solitude is not…

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