HOBBES: LEVIATHAN 24/11/10 1:35 PM
Hobbes. A very different writer, a very different style. The father of liberalism, and therefore
of a new moralism and even a new pacifism (antiwar, peace lover) which seems alien to the spirit
of the godless and warlike Machiavelli. “But even so I’ll be trying to persuade you that
Hobbes (and liberalism) are best understood as Machiavelli: the Sequel.”
• He is an intelligent cool dry wind, a great observer of human nature, notices all and sees
through all…a great debunker. He isn’t a misanthrope. All of wounds are self-inflicted. The
biggest problems that humans face are psychological. Might think of Hobbes as dr. Phil. the
substance of Hobbes consists of the familiar and strange, he offers a liberal argument of
despotism. A generally liberal kind of despotism. Hobbes achieves the democratization of
Machiavelli and therefore . Hobbes thoroughly debunks the prince and then reproduces it
his way, he Is much more our kind of thinker than Machiavelli. In his dedicatory letter, he is
following in the footsteps of Machiavelli and cuts down the forests of savages and then
constructs his own. Hobbes builds a new way of life and seem only contrary to that of his.
But is now really.
• Letter to Godolphin: P.2 Besides…here he speaks of beasts of Rome. Hobbes is in his own
understanding the philosopher who serves common people by serving the pretentions of the
rare. How does Hobbes manage to be helpful equally to all regimes and vindicate them, no
matter how liberal that regime may be. If you understand this Paradox you understand
• INTRO: Leviathan , book of Joe CH. 41 LEVIATHAN is introduced as the powerful of all
being. He is the proof of ultimate power and judgment , human submission rivaling that of
God. (A King over all the Children of the Crowd)
• A commonwealth is a human imitation of the divine, made by man for himself. The means by
which he rivals God. Leviathan: Commonwealth rivals Gods creation.
• The Prince stands out of the crowd and rules all of us, what about the Leviathan? It’s the
commonwealth or the political order. We are leviathan and he is us. “The State” M talks of
how the prince gains and loses, states, for Hobbes the sovereign is not a part of the state.
The founder of modern constitutionalism.
• STUDY QUESTION
human world is defined by our senses. What we do is in the reaction of the senses. The
external world has an impact on our bodies as our senses interact with it. However we have
no knowledge of the outside world. Perceptions are constantly changing, but is there any
reason to assume things are as we see or experience them? NO. A prison house, no access
to the original reality,
• CH.2- Images are all derived from sense compression, since images are the stuff of our
mental discourse, our thought. Two kinds of train of thought, Guided and Unguided. Mere
random association, daydreaming if you lik, the relationship depending, on chance. Without
any logical association. The regulated train of thought has a strong desire to be regulated,
the principle is always exterior, and aversion. There is no serious thought for the pleasure of
thinking of knowing, man is a needy and desiring , and craftable being.
Man and Beast (the difference): the sense of cause and affect is precise in a beast,
reasons back from the affect through the cause. A human moves reasons through cause and
effect. Human are naturally multitaskers and we can all reason from the cause to the effect.
Mans consciousness of power enhances our power. POWER IS THE KEY TO
• CH.4 – Speech, the greatest of human inventions, something that man possessed by nature
and not what Plato and Aristotle described. P.16-17. Speech is a means with which we
express our thoughts. We can think of words as a kind of shorthand, the words facilitate the
images that are created in our mind. If words are properly strung together. Truth is a
property of statements only. Certain things are true and others are false without our
knowledge of them. There is no truth in the sense that one could live and die for it. Truth is
not an acronym of anything, just propositions. But using it as a synonym to the word “Real”.
• CH.5. Hobbes adopts a geometrical model of reason. A quantitative rather than qualitative.
Hobbes’ project of political reason, is to find definitions that are as clear, unambiguous &
precise as the Pythagorean theorem. For modern science, a hypothesis has to be stated in
mathematical terms, this is what Hobbes is doing,. Is it possible to discuss human matters in
terms of unequivocal formulas of mathematical equations?. Aren’t “What is” questions
controversial? For instance, what is God, what is true love? Etc…
P.25, 26. Hobbes Motto: “knowledge or science for the sake of power.” The goal is
certainty or agreement, the purpose of speech utility rather than truth. Speech facilitates
our practical ends. Hobbes represents the first great attempt to apply science to power.
Contemporary political science makes distinction b/w facts and values and that facts are
only subject to mathematical precision.
• CH.6- describing 2 basic passions: Appetite and Aversion. Either we’re attracted to
something or repelled by that thing. Also by aversion we signify the absence of the
object(p.28 section2), for Hobbes it’s liberally true to say
a positive or a negative orientation towards something. Hobbes relation to Machiavellian
thinkers; there is no natural good for human beings. In politics and elsewhere. All humans
seek the good(goal) but few achieve it. We all distinguish b/w true and false, we all defend
our own way of life as good, but according to Hobbes it’s all nonsense. Hobbes is the great
founder of relativism of the good. By good we mean only what seems good. There is no
notion of the good that could serve as a standard for human life. Good is not a thing it’s just
a name. the big question of human life is where does it point? (Aristotle). Hobbes thinks
human life does not point anywhere. P.34 section 58)- Life in Hobbes description is
Sisyphean. Two kinds of frustration . Politics: there is no good life to serve as an aim of a
good political life. Concern with the good life can be dangerous. Men cannot agree on the
good life, Hobbes debunks the god, it is nothing but a passing fancy generated by a desire
• CH.7- “tears of reconciliation” reasoning is the proper manipulation of definition.
For e.g. FEAR: Aversion with opinion of hurt from the object . and COURAGE: Fear and
the hope of overcoming that fear is Courage. The same with hope of avoiding that hurt by
resistance there is nothing distinctively human about Hobbes def. of courage.p.30.
Hobbes’ goal is to come up with definitions of crucial human phenomenon.
• CH.10 – POWER – power is by definition not a good end in itself but a means to obtain a
future apparent good. We know we will always have future goals, but we won’t know what
they are. Whatever you get there will always be something to follow and whatever it may be
we’ll need money to obtain it. The purchase doesn’t matter but rather our capacity to
continue to make purchases. So we become preoccupied with the means. All human beings
have a primary concern with power. Power is also the currency for all human relations and
interactions. Humans are dependent on one another to enable our own individual power.
Section 16. –Value is relative. It has no universal standards. My perception of you is your
value etc…there is no intrinsic value/worth. Not the seller but the buyer determines the