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Introduction to Hobbes

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A Ripstein

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Lecture II Wednesday September 14th 2011 Leviathan is a character in the book of Joe in the Hebrew/Jewish bible. Hobbes assumes a general knowledge/intellect of his readership which will understand these basic references of his. In the book of Joe, Leviathan is a sea creature; “he of whom no covenant can be made”. He is a creature with whom you cannot fight, cannot win, to whom the expressions “lose your taste for battle” and “resistance is futile” apply. This Leviathan is the king of the crowd. Hobbes aims to give us an understanding of state as well to justify law/rule by referencing Leviathan. This implies that there needs to be an irresistible ruler in order to understand the state and justify rule/law. In Hobbes view, this ruler is not to be questioned. Like the method Euclid used, Hobbes argues from premises that are hard to resist (and sometimes simple) to reach conclusions that are hard to accept. What we want to do is figure out what exactly this argument is. The Introduction says that they key to understanding society is to understand humans. In order to understand humans however, we first need to understand what makes ‘humans’. Hobbes thinks of humans as being like clocks (many small parts and mechanisms, working together to make the clock what it is). Thus, the right way to analyze human beings is to analyze their parts, just like you would analyze clock parts in order to understand how a clock works. This applies to society as well; we need to resolve society into parts and understand how those parts work in order to understand society. Society in Hobbes time generally believed that the world was subject to certain order. This view required people to think of the parts that made the whole. They understood parts as those parts contributed to the whole (rather than understand these parts singularly and alone). Basically, things were seen in reference to how they contributed to the bigger workings (the bigger workings often meaning the world). See the ‘heavy things fall’ idea from the reading notes for an example. It is all ultimately structured by the idea that things have their own purpose and place. Galileo however, questioned the idea of things with heavier weights falling faster; i.e., things returning to their natural places, things as having a place they are supposed to be, things as having a place they should be, etc. To Galileo, should be was not something that was a part of nature (i.e., just because something should be, doesn’t mean that is how it is in nature, etc). Instead, nature and all things pertaining to it needed to be expressed in mathematics. Thus, things (i.e., wholes) need to be understood via all its parts (the operation of its parts, etc). The ‘whole’ works because of its parts so if you understand those small parts first, only then will you understand the greater thing. In summary, the difference is in understanding parts in order to understand the whole rather than understanding the p
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