Is Man A Killer Animal Or a Reasoning Animal?

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If you grant that men are in a war of all against all, as in Hobbes, you may find you are driven to his remedy, which is a strong force over all, or a state. That force will make law. It will be the master, you the slave. So, are men killer animals or reasoning animals?

The movie “Killer of Sheep” (1979) is a famous movie depicting black life in Watts (“named one of the 100 Essential Films by the National Society of Film Critics”). In this movie, two hoods approach the character Stan. They want him to help in a crime, a murder. He’s reluctant. He has a job at an abattoir. They’re on the porch trying to persuade him. His wife hears and she comes outside to berate the hoods. The dialog poses the question I’ve raised:

WIFE TO HOOD: Why you always want to hurt somebody?

HOOD: Who, me? That’s the way nature is. I mean, an animal has its teeth, and a man has his fists. That’s the way I was brought up, God damn me. I mean, when a man’s got scars on his mug from dealing with son of a bitches every day for his natural life, ain’t nobody gonna run over this nigger…You be a man if you can, Stan.

WIFE TO HOOD: Wait-you wait just one minute. You talking about be a man; stand up. Don’t you know there’s more to it than just with your fists, the scars on your mug? You talking about an animal? What, no, you think you’re still in the bush some damn where? You’re here, you use your brain; that’s what you use.

There are a number of serious problems and criticisms with the view of Hobbes. This interchange gets at one of them.

9:13 am on October 25, 2013