Eric Marquer

Self-esteem, Esteem of Others in Hobbes and d’Holbach

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Hobbes, d’Holbach, Self-esteem, Social Virtue, Arrogance, Pride, Law of Nature

In the Social System, d’Holbach writes that man «desires the esteem of others, in order to be worthy in his own eyes». This statement explains one of the classic meanings of esteem. It may nonetheless be interesting to compare d’Holbach’s statement with Hobbes’ formula in Leviathan chapter XIII: «For every man looketh that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself» (everyone expects his companion to esteem him as high as he appreciates himself). First we observe that the figure of the other plays a pivotal role in both authors. Nevertheless, the forms of recognition differ from one author to another: while for Hobbes self-esteem seems to be the criterion which determines what is expected from others, for d’Holbach esteem of others seems to be a condition for self esteem. We thereby suggest to compare the implications of these statements for Hobbes and for d’Holbach from a political point of view. We know that, according to Hobbes, sensitivity to signs of disdain and contempt is one of the reasons why men in the state of nature «derive great displeasure from life in company». Should we consider that for d’Holbach, the desire for the esteem of others leads men to find more enjoyment in life in society? The answer to this question does give us the opportunity to reassess the importance of the reading of Hobbes given by d’Holbach, who was his translator.

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