', a Latin phrase meaning "the war of all against all", is the description that Thomas Hobbes gives to human existence in the state-of-nature thought experiment that he conducts in ''De Cive'' (1642) and ''Leviathan'' (1651). The common modern English usage is a war of "each against all" where war is rare and terms such as "competition" or "struggle" are more common.

Thomas Hobbes' use

In ''Leviathan'' itself, Hobbes speaks of 'warre of every one against every one', of 'a war ..of every man against every man' and of 'a perpetuall warre of every man against his neighbour', but the Latin phrase occurs in ''De Cive'': Later on, two slightly modified versions are presented in ''De Cive'': In chapter XIII of ''Leviathan'', Hobbes explains the concept with these words: The thought experiment places people in a pre-social condition, and theorizes what would happen in such a condition. According to Hobbes, the outcome is that people choose to enter a social contract, giving up some of their liberties in order to enjoy peace. This thought experiment is a test for the legitimation of a state in fulfilling its role as "sovereign" to guarantee social order, and for comparing different types of states on that basis. Hobbes distinguishes between war and battle: war does not only consist of actual battle; it points to the situation in which one knows there is a 'Will to contend by Battle'.

Later uses

In his ''Notes on the State of Virginia'' (1785), Thomas Jefferson uses the phrase ''bellum omnium in omnia'' ("war of all things against all things", assuming ''omnium'' is intended to be neutral like ''omnia'') as he laments that the constitution of that state was twice at risk of being sacrificed to the nomination of a dictator after the manner of the Roman Republic. The phrase was sometimes used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: * In ''On the Jewish Question'' (1843–1844): * In ''Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy'' (1857–1858): :The English translation eliminates the Latin phrase used in the original German. * In a letter from Marx to Engels (18 June 1862): * In a letter to Pyotr Lavrov (London, 12–17 November 1875), Engels is expressed clearly against any attempt to legitimize the trend anthropomorphizing human nature to the distorted view of natural selection: It was also used by Friedrich Nietzsche in ''On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense'' (1873):

See also

* Anomie * Failed state * ''Homo homini lupus'' * List of Latin phrases * Rat race * Social contract theories * State of nature


{{Reflist Category:1642 in military history Category:17th-century neologisms Category:Enlightenment philosophy Category:Latin philosophical phrases Category:Latin political words and phrases Category:Metaphors referring to war and violence Category:Concepts in ethics Category:Thomas Hobbes Category:Thought experiments in ethics