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Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Focus: On the Psycho-Political Prerequisites of Law and Order, Esp. Politics of Fear Reading: Selections from the Leviathan Lecture by: Kyoo Lee. Personal/Biographical (1588-1679). FEAR

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Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

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thomas hobbes 1588 1679
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
  • Focus: On the Psycho-Political Prerequisites of Law and Order, Esp. Politics of Fear
  • Reading: Selections from the Leviathan
  • Lecture by: Kyoo Lee
personal biographical 1588 1679
Personal/Biographical (1588-1679)
  • FEAR
  • “My mother dear/ did bring forth twins at once, both me and fear”: “for Fame had rumour’d, that a Fleet at Sea; Wou’d cause our Nations Catastrophe; And here upon it was my Mother Dear; Did bring forth Twins at once, both Me, and Fear; For this, My countries Foes I e’r did hate; with calm Peace and my Muse associate.” (Elements of the Law)**
  • ** “his mother fell in labour with him upon the freight of the invasion of the Spaniards.” (from John Aubrey’s biography of Hobbes)
historical social political turbulences
Historical/Social-Political Turbulences
  • Columbus set sailing in 1492.
  • Thomas More publishing Utopia in 1517.
  • Martin Luther posting “95 Theses” in 1517; Calvinism rising.
  • Machiavelli writing the Discourses in 1517.
  • English Parliament’s “Petition of Right” in 1628.
  • English Civil War starting in 1642.
  • King Charles beheaded in 1649.
  • Rise of Oliver Cromwell in 1650.
  • Hobbes’ Leviathan published in 1651.
cultural philosophical humanism individualism and skepticism
Cultural/Philosophical Humanism, Individualism and Skepticism
  • Ancient Greece
    • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
    • Against the background of Aristotle’s “Naturalism”
  • Early Modern Europe
    • Galileo Galilei’s Copernican Heliocentrism and Scientific Method
    • Sir T. More’s Utopia
    • M. Montaigne’s Essays
    • R. Descartes’ “Rationalism”
    • J. Locke’s “Empiricism”
hobbes the materialist philosopher
Hobbes, the “Materialist” Philosopher
  • Egalitarian
  • Naturalistic
  • Pragmatic
  • Realistic
  • Materialistic
    • Cf. psychological behaviorism
    • Cf. political physics
    • Cf. Rational calculation
leviathan an artificial man monster
Leviathan: An Artificial Man/Monster

Biblical Source: "that which gathers itself into folds”; "that which is drawn out“ (Job 41, Psalm 14, 26, 74, 104; Isaiah 27:1)

Opening line of Leviathan: “NATURE (the art whereby God hath made and governs the world) is by the art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an artificial animal.” (Note closely the whole paragraph.)

leviathan some key ideas
Leviathan: Some Key Ideas
  • Analogical identity or parallel between nature and war: “the state of nature is a state of war.”
    • Lack of order
    • Lack of authority
  • Undesirability of political instability or revolution.
  • Self-interested obedience to the Sovereign, one “strong man”
    • Natural primacy of egoism: “Everyone is moved by an appetite for what is good for himself, and by an aversion for what is evil for himself, but mot of all by the greatest of natural evils, which is death. This happens by a certain necessity of nature, no less than that which a stone is carried downward.” (Ch 2, of Imagination)
  • Ultimate justifiablity and legitimacy of sovereign power
one man
One Man
  • “The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one man, or assembly of men, to bear their person; and every one to own and acknowledge himself to be author of whatsoever he that so beareth their person shall act, or cause to be acted, in those things which concern the common peace and safety; and therein to submit their wills, every one to his will, and their judgements to his judgement. This is more than consent, or concord; it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person, made by covenant of every man with every man, in such manner as if every man should say to every man: I authorise and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorise all his actions in like manner. This done, the multitude so united in one person is called a COMMONWEALTH; in Latin, CIVITAS. This is the generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god to which we owe, under the immortal God, our peace and defence. For by this authority, given him by every particular man in the Commonwealth, he hath the use of so much power and strength conferred on him that, by terror thereof, he is enabled to form the wills of them all, to peace at home, and mutual aid against their enemies abroad. And in him consisteth the essence of the Commonwealth; which, to define it, is: one person, of whose acts a great multitude, by mutual covenants one with another, have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use the strength and means of them all as he shall think expedient for their peace and common defence.” (Leviathan, Ch 17)
natural law of self preservation
“Natural” Law of Self-preservation
  • Individuation of rights based on each individual’s natural, exceptional and “fundamental right” to self-preservation including self-defense.
    • Cf. “bio-power” or “bio-politics”
  • Collectivization of individual rights through a “mutual transferring of Right” called “Contract”: the Commonwealth, the State, the Great Leviathan.
    • Cf. greed and self-love: “for all men are by nature provided of notable multiplying glasses (that is their passions and Self-love.) through which, every little payment appeareth a great grievance” (Leviathan, Ch18)
    • Cf. “bio-power” or “bio-politics”
  • But (why) would you wish to sign a contract to escape from “polecats and foxes” only to be put “at the mercy of lions”? (Locke’s point of objection.)
ch 13 14 of leviathan
Ch 13-14 of Leviathan
  • In-Class Discussion