What Famous Philosophers Wrote about Trust
Throughout history, philosophers have examined the role of trust in various ways. Socrates, for example, believed that trust was essential for a just society. In his famous dialogue “The Republic”, Socrates argues that trust is necessary for individuals to live together in harmony, stating, “For the state in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the state in which they are most eager, the worst.”
In the 17th century, philosopher Thomas Hobbes also recognized the importance of trust in society, but he had a more pessimistic view of human nature. He believed that without trust and the fear of punishment, society would dissolve into a state of chaos and violence, famously stating in “Leviathan” that “in the state of nature, where there is no trust, every man is enemy to every man.”
In the 18th and 19th centuries, philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche also discussed the role of trust in their work. Kant believed that trust was necessary for moral behavior, stating in “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals” that “without trust, no moral action is possible.” Nietzsche, on the other hand, argued that trust could be a weakness, as it made individuals vulnerable to betrayal. He wrote in “Beyond Good and Evil” that “the trust that one has in oneself is a force that one can call upon to make the most incredible things happen.”
In more recent times, philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger have also weighed in on the subject of trust. Sartre, in his existentialist philosophy, saw trust as a necessity for human freedom, stating in “Being and Nothingness” that “trust is the foundation of all human freedom.” Heidegger, meanwhile, argued that trust is essential for understanding the meaning of existence, stating in “Being and Time” that “the trust that one has in oneself is the foundation of all understanding.”
Overall, philosophers throughout history have recognized the crucial role that trust plays in society and in individual lives. They have explored the ways in which trust can lead to harmony and cooperation, but also the ways in which it can make individuals vulnerable to betrayal.