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PP110 march6.pdf

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Hugh R Alcock

PP110 March.6/13 Lecture Writing Philosophy Questions to Ask: What is philosophy? What is it philosophers imagine themselves to be doing exactly?  There is not agreement about this. Some philosophers see themselves as aiming for the truth. They are making progress, discovering, etc.  Seeking absolute truth ex- in metaphysics, philosophy is seen as religious in spirit.  In contrast, philosophers like Richard Rorty think of philosophy as providing new ways of understanding our world...  Either way philosophy is an a priori (independent of experience, has been already experience but can be further explained) endeavour Thomas Hobbe’s Contract Theory  Today we are looking at Hobbe’s enormously influential work Leviathan (1649). It represents the emergence of a modern political perspective  Looked at monarchy and ruler ship (how it was seen that they were divine rulers in the past), although they were in fact just regular people  What was emerging was a different perspective on the world. Individuals mattered and had rights, we all had legitimate interest.  Picture shown- sovereign  Before we turn to Leviathan it is worthwhile considering the historical background to this work, specifically two crucial influences on Hobbe’s philosophical ideas, namely, Niccolo Machiavelli’s and Galileo. Niccolo Machiavelli  Michiavelli (1469-1527) began his career as a civil servant. Unfortunately, he backed the wrong side in a political war and ended up being tortured and exiled from political life once the Medicis had been reinstated in Florence, his native city state  In an attempt to regain favour with the ruler, Machiavelli wrote his famous book The Prince (*pub, 1532). In it he gave advice to the ruler on how to maintain power.  Although there are great differences in the thinking of Machiavelli and Hobbes, what they did share is a belief that political institutions can be genuinely reformed, as opposed to holding that how people are governed is in some sense divinely determined and hence fixed.  Machiavelli’s writings were banned because they were seen as immoral and a form of Satanism.  The ruler must be cruel yet kind, a bit of both for a correct form of ruling. This is what he believed.  Hobbes was an early proponent of materialism, the naturalistic view that all that exists are physical things. He denied that there were any supernatural or divine entities in the world. Everything, he optimistically assumed could be explained in physical terms.  Therefore, nothing about how we, as material beings, organize our societies is determined by any sort of divine intervention. Galileo Galilei  Galileo argued that nature was governed by strict laws and that we can discover these laws, thereby enabling us to deduce how things are in the world. He famously stated that the language of nature is mathematics.  What Hobbes shared with Galileo was an embracing of the geometrical method. This is the method originally employed by the ancient Greek geometer Euclid in his work The Elements.  Euclid- What is geometry? Arose by dividing the land up and measuring areas and angles.  Euclid discovered that all these truths about geometry can be derived from axioms, self evident truths (obvious). He realized he could work out other answers based on basic truths and from them find out any truth about geometry. It was the beginning of mathematics and is the geometric method.  Hobbes applied the geometrical method by attempting to determine how people interact independently of any sort of authority, in what Hobbes dubbed a State of Nature  Not based on God but on the self and on individuality  Hobbes described how in this state of nature everyone is motivated to survive and more generally to pursue their own interests. These are natural rights or liberties that are incontrovertible and can never be taken away from someone- it would be absurd for anyone to renounce (give up) these rights.  In this state of nature, Hobbes famously remarked, the life of man would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Bailey, pg.187)  In this endeavour he determined basic principles that underlie human interaction, these Hobbes called natural laws The two principles Hobbes identified- 1. That every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of attaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war- taking by force 2. That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defence of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much against other men as he would allow other men against himself  These are reasonable ways of acting that fit in our self interest  In essence Hobbes argued that there is no such thing as natural justice, that is no one in a state of nature is obliged to act justly.  These natural laws suggest a way of escaping the state of nature. If each person can reach agreement with someone that he give up the pursuit of interests in exchange for an assurance of security from him, for a peaceable existence.  So long as everyone makes such a contract with a designated individual (the sovereign) a state of peace becomes possible- everyone has effectively ceded their interests to a sing
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