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Lecture

Class 4. Leviathan .docx


Department
Social Sciences
Course Code
SCS 1160
Professor
Jordan Stancil

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Hobbes: Leviathan
- English philosopher 1588 1679: Year of the Armada
- 60 years after Machiavelli
- Hobbes goal: how to achieve security, safety and purity
- The great object of Hobbes’ fear is disorder, or civil war
- His political doctrine enforces us to ask ourselves how much freedom we are
willing to give up in exchange for security
- This period was marked by struggles of the King vs. The Parliament,
Parliament insisted it had the right to any taxation, the King closed the
Parliament and this conflict resulted in civil war in England in the 1640’s and
the establishment of the Republic form of government
- Hobbes took the royalist side
- He fled to continental Europe, leaving in 1640 and stayed for 12 years.
During the period of exile and civil war in England Hobbes wrote Leviathan
The Political Doctrine of Hobbes
- His goal is for peace and stability. The essential thing we must do is submit
ourselves to authority in order to receive this stability. The one right we
retain after submission to authority is the right to self-preservation.
Hobbes view on the state of nature
- Before our submission to authority we are in a state of nature. Which is an
intellectual device used to analyze the origins of society. Break down society
into its simplest pieces.
- To imagine what the drives of human nature are
- What would happen if we took society apart
- An apocalyptic vision of fear. What would the world look like if society broke
down? An ever present possibility to be avoided
- People have 3 characteristics: equality (anybody can kill anyone else),
competition (scarce resources, we compete for the things we need), self-
centered (our priorities are mostly about ourselves)
- Everybody has a right to self-preservation therefore everybody has a right to
everything because no one has decided what belongs to whom
- The private appetite is the measure of good and evil
- War of all against all. Everyone against everyone
- Fear of death, desire of necessary things for a comfortable life and a hope to
obtain these things are why we leave
What Hobbes tells us about Social Contract
- In spite of all the nasty things in our nature we have the ability to see past
them if the state of nature/war can be ended
- Not about ethics and morality but about self-interest
- Civil society is the result of a covenant, a deal, a promise to each other, to
submit to a sovereignty authority which will be above all of us equally. An
agreement rooted in fear of the individuals in society for each other
- The purpose of the contract is to get together against the thing that is feared
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