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Lecture 18

POL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Bourgeoisie, Rationality, Nationstates

Political Science
Course Code
Janice Stein

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POL200Y1 - Lecture 18 Notes
Frontispiece + Introductory Epistle, Natural & Civil Science
Leviathan was published in 1651
It was written in English (instead of Latin) because Hobbes thought it had political usefulness
His choice of writing in English, a commoner’s language, foreshadows Hobbes’ reasoning
for why the people should obey the state
The name is that of a sea monster from the Book of Joe
This monster could breathe fire, but was most importantly the king of all ‘children of pride’
In the frontispiece, the Leviathan in question looms over the city and its surrounding lands, with
Christian symbols in hand
The Leviathan’s scaly appearance is because of how it is made up of people
The symbolism of the Leviathan itself represents an unlimited authority’s ability to bring order to
a state
This authority is particularly concerned with military and religious matters
The people who make up the Leviathan’s scales are essentially the people who agreed in
the pact which enabled the Leviathan to manifest in the first place
Hobbes had anti-religious ideas (ironically), which were gravely threatening for its time, where
religion remained prevalent
Hobbes’ account is an elaboration of Machiavelli’s ideal for how people should treat their fellow
While Machiavelli builds upon Aristotelian thought, Hobbes objects and attacks it
Hobbes proposes that humans are inherently driven by personal passions, particularly violent
We particularly have an innate fear of violent death
To avoid this fearful fate, people tend to make a pact to constitute a single, unified and
unchallenged political authority capable of maintaining peace (but most importantly order) to
protect its people from external and internal threats
Such authorities are also supposed to liberate people from religious authorities as well
Civil power’s conception is highly abstract
Hobbes: “I speak not of the men, but in the abstract of the seats of power.
His idea of an ‘Abstract State’ is essentially a body of authority whose existence lies within a
political system itself
While leaders, frameworks and laws may change, the authority remains
Hobbes want to prevent authority or civility from achieving extremes of liberty
For Hobbes, religion was dangerous to civil power (institutions) because it was capable of
dividing the sovereign’s power by providing an alternative for the people’s allegiance
Unified power is a necessity which also requires reflexive obedience that can relate to it
Hobbes: “* “The outworks of the enemy, from whence they impugn of the civil power… the
scripture of the enemy…”
Scripture is evil if it can give an external threat rationale to act against one’s state
States exist as powerful bodies capable of crushing the ambitious (people who intend to exploit
their fellow citizens)
As portrayed, the belief implies a need to reinforce religious influence through the rhetorical use
of religious language

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At the time, modern science was rising in societal prevalence in the face of religion’s
established prevalence
In Hobbes’ case, the human body (and his following proposals) is to be understood
Hobbes wants people to realize that political systems act no differently as how humans
move and function
States could be understood by breaking them down into parts (recognizing and
understanding aspects such as laws and magistrates), reassembling these said parts and
observe how they function
“There is no such thing as a telos”
Hobbes rejected the ideals of the ancients (particularly Aristotle)
The mere human being is to take the place of God as the inventor and creator
It is harder to understand passion than to understand languages or sciences
To better understand one’s own actions and passions, as well as human nature’s underlying
principles, one ought to look within
Important to note that Hobbes was particularly known for his work on light and optics
When Hobbes said how all things have a specific purpose, he meant it in a political sense
This purpose being to repudiate religion (particularly its authority) over people’s political power
Hobbes also wanted to show that humans could self-determine their own fates through scientific
The foundation of modern science’s belief is to understand how humans are so that through
separate and collective collaboration, the human condition can be improved
Thus, science should be regarded as the ‘perfection of reason’
What differentiates science from theoretical prudence is that it is the knowledge of
consequences; prudence has an inherent sense of uncertainty
It should not just be a predominant influence on one’s life, but also be unquestionable in its
governance of livelihood
Ch.1-3+8+12: Human Nature; Hobbes’ Attack on Aristotle and Schoolmen
The first section of Leviathan is titled ‘Of Man’
Such titles are made to progressively explain theories of human nature
Humans are beings of specific appetites and capacities
Humans can only think (through sense) of materials of determinant matter in specific places
Thus, all knowable reality is matter in motion; such is a tenet of modern science
Our perceptions (‘Fancies’) come from the pressures developed from external motions press
upon internal ‘organs’ in particular ways
Thus senses such as taste and smell are projections of one’s mind, not a characteristic of
things themselves
The process of perception, like the human body, is to be understood as a mechanism
Hobbes criticizes the philosophy of Christendom’s schools because they only read Aristotle’s
He decries Aristotle’s theory of light (sensible objects that emit visible species that meet one’s
eyes to create vision) as insignificant speech
Such speech is false
Aristotle held that particular things in motion sought resting places in accordance to their nature
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