According to Thomas Hobbes humans are natural brutish beasts that will use violence before cooperation. Logically Hobbes’s argument made little sense because he believed the only way to overcome our naturally violent tendencies was to implement powerful governments to keep everybody in line. The hole in his theory is this: if humans are naturally brutish then giving a handful of them power over the rest will only lead to those few elite reigning violence down upon everybody else. In essence if Hobbes was right humanity is almost completely fucked.
Thankfully more and more evidence keeps cropping up that demonstrates humans have a natural tendency to cooperate:
Biological research is increasingly debunking the view of humanity as competitive, aggressive and brutish.
“Humans have a lot of pro-social tendencies,” Frans de Waal, a biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Monday.
New research on higher animals from primates and elephants to mice shows there is a biological basis for behavior such as co-operation, said de Waal, author of The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society.
Until just 12 years ago, the common view among scientists was that humans were “nasty” at the core but had developed a veneer of morality – albeit a thin one, de Waal told scientists and journalists from some 50 countries at the conference in Vancouver, Canada.
But human children – and most higher animals – are “moral” in a scientific sense, because they need to co-operate with each other to reproduce and pass on their genes, he said.
The fact that humans around the globe came together to form societies demonstrates our natural tendency to cooperate. If Hobbes was right societies should never have formed because members of our species would have been too busy committing acts of murder and theft against one another to actually cooperate enough to found communities. Communities, after all, developed when humans started understanding the value of dividing labor. Even the cavemen realized it was valuable to have some people out picking berries, some fashioning tools and clothing, and other hunting. Sadly this fact is lost on a large number (possibly a majority) of people.