chapter 2



Englighment thinkers (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau) viewed humans as primarily asocial and competitive

1651 - Hobbes ‘Leviathan’

the life of man: “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short”

The state of nature is thus characterized by “Warre…of every man against every man”. To escape from this perilous situation, human beings to give their natural liberty to do as they please inn return for other people respecting their right to life. The state, or Leviathan, enforces these reciprocal committments [27]

1689 Locke ‘Second Treatise on Government’

Locke’s fundamental law of nature, in contrast to that of Hobbes’, gives human beings the right not just to life, but to “life, health, libery”…although the state, in Locke’s view, is necessary, it can itself become the denier of natural rights, and so he posits a right to revolt agaisnt unjust authority. [27]


Thus the rise of political society does not represent salvation from “warre of every man against every other man” but a bondage to other human beings through ties of mutual dependence [28]

Aristotle was right, humans are inherently social

He [Aristotle] argued that human beings are poltical by nature, and that their natural capacities incline them to flourish in society. The three early modern philosophers [Hobbes, Locke, Rosseau], by contrast, argued that human beings are not naturally social, but that society is a kind of artifice that allows people to achieve what they cannot get on their own. [26]

The recovery of human nature by modern biology…Rousseau was brilliantly correct in certain of his observations, such as his view that human inequality had its origin in the development of metallurgy, agriculture, and, above all, private property. But he, Hobbes, and Locke were wrong on one very imoprtant point, All three thinkers saw human beings in a the state of nature as isolated individuals, for whom society was not natural…we might label this the Hobbesean fallacy…this premise also underlies contemporary neoclassical econics, which builds its model on the assumption that human beings are rational beings who want to maximize their individual utility or incomes. But it is in fact individualism and not sociability that developer over the course of human history…Aristotle was more correct than these early modern liberal theorists when we said that human beings were political by nature. [29]

humans vs chimps

The human and chimp genomes overlap by some 99%…that diverging 1% accounts for language, religion, abstract thought…so it’s rather important! [31]

Chimps are unable to move to higher levels of social organization because they do not have lanuage [35]

a very large portion of the neocortex, which is the part of the brain posessed by behaviorally modern humans but not by chimps or arcahic humans, is devoted to language [36]

religion allows cooperation to scale

Some evolutionary psychologists have argued that the survival benefits conferred by enhanced social cohesion is the reason that a propensity for relgious belief seemds to be hardwired into the human brain. Religion is not the only way that ideas can reinfornce group solidatiry—today we have nationalism and secular ideologies like Marxism as well. [38]

history of humans

Anatomically modern human beings appeared on the scene two hundred thousand years ago…only fifty thousand years ago, however, that behaviorally modern human beings emerged [46]