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Lecture

LEVAITHAN CHAPTER 1-7

7 Pages
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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL200Y1
Professor
Janice Stein

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Description
POLITICAL SCIENCE 200Y1 L0501 2008-2009 SEVENTH LECTURE OCTOBER 22, 2008 HOBBES, LEVIATHAN, BEGINNING - CHAPTERS 1-7 Tag end of Jewish holiday reminders: lecture posting, office hours. Turnitin.com: Storage question; word count feature. Hobbes vs. Machiavelli: the least favoritemost favorite writers in the course, according to student evaluations. Ive never understood this, I always love studying and teaching Hobbes; perhaps Id be more successful at teaching him if I did understand it. To me, Hobbes is a bracing presence, the intellectual equivalent of those cold winds that so often whistle through Toronto at the season when we study him, just as theyre doing tonight. His arguments may make us uncomfortable, like those winds, but like then too they will wake us up. But, if youll indulge my poetic fancy a little further, not a cold clammy wind, such as we endure in humid Toronto, but a hot, dry wind, such as the scirocco or mistral that sweeps from the Sahara across the Mediterranean into southern Europe. Now there seem to be two main reasons why students have trouble with Hobbes: (1) Hes written in English (but not quite our English, into which the other writers have been translated). When I last taught this course three years ago a student whose first language wasnt English asked me to recommend a translation of Hobbes, and was dismayed to learn that no such translations existed: no, this is English, and youre expected to be able to read it. (2) Bizarre mixture of the familiar and the strange -- familiar conclusions supported by strange arguments. And a strange twist to the familiar conclusion: a liberal argument for despotism. What we have to understand: that this despotism is a new kind of despotism -- a genuinely liberal kind -- and that Hobbess arguments required only the slightest modifications to become arguments for liberal democracy. (These modifications were made by Locke.) Hobbes achieves the democratization of Machiavelli, and therefore his domestication. At the end of the last class Merrick Anderson approached me and asked the following question. In our tutorial, he said, weve been talking a lot about honor and glory, but what sense do honor and glory make if man is merely a beast? This was an excellent question take a bow, Mr. Anderson, I know that youre out there not least because its precisely Hobbess rejoinder to Machiavelli. He thoroughly debunks the ambition of the Machiavellian prince to gain immortal glory by pushing other people around, and then proceeds to reinvent the prince as the faithful servant of the people, who owes his authority entirely to them and concerns himself entirely with their welfare. He is therefore, whether we grasp it immediately or not, much more our sort of writer than Machiavelli. How I like to express the relationship between them: the new Columbus, the builder of Downsview. The letter to Mr Francis Godolphin. The Capitoline geese; Hobbes as a goose. What Hobbes promises to offer: an argument that fully and equally vindicates every actual regime against its attackers both external and internal. If you need to defend liberal democracy in North America against its Islamist enemies, Hobbes is your goose. If you need to defend communism in China against its liberal democratic enemies, Hobbes is your goose there too. And if you need to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran against its liberal democratic andor leftist enemies, Hobbes is your goose there too. www.notesolution.com
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