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Lecture

Jan. 8- Hobbes2.doc

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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2900
Professor
Stephen Newman

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1 POLS 2900 Tuesday, January 8, 2013 HOBBES Recall: reason is a servant of the passions. The nature of the passions must be understood. Chapter VI of Leviathan • Example: hope • Hope is a passion; it is a desire for which we believe we can obtain. Despair is something we do not consider attainable. • Fear is an aversion for some object that we believe can hurt us. Courage is something fearful that we believe we can successfully resist. Confidence is constant hope. Ambition is a desire for riches. • Why does Hobbes define these? For Hobbes, it is important to begin with correct definitions, to standardize definitions. Humans must use words rightly, to use them to signify one thing. For Hobbes, the meaning of all words is nominal. E.g. a dog is a dog. For humans, dogs make a sound that we label barking. Though the name for dog is different in different languages, they all define dog as a dog. Hobbes’ Religion • He treats it as a passion • There is a corresponding passion in which he calls superstition that is not publicly allowed • Hobbes describes what he thinks is the source of our religious passion. “Powers invisible” means how people form ideas about God, deities or the divine. He also argues that these ideas of powers are made in the mind. • Mere religion vs. true religion- when powers imagined are truly such as what we imagined, then the powers that we experience is true religion. • He thought bad religious doctrine gave rise to bad ideas • Explaining why people have religious doctrines is important because they influence how people act. That influence can run counter to civil peace. Hobbes’ Deliberation • Some talk about it in terms of ration- Plato and Aristotle: rational choice • Hobbes does not believe that deliberation is rational. Rather, it is a concatenation of appetites, desires and aversions. • Lower animals also experience desires and aversions • Hobbes rejects the schoolman’s notion that the will is a rational appetite 2 o A voluntary act is simply an action that proceeds from the will • Reason has nothing to do with will • For both Plato and Aristotle: if the mind is well ordered, then appetite is governed by reason. If someone were appetitive, then the individual would run out and drink motor oil. Though that is not a rational choice. • If one were thirsty, then what beverage ought one drink? There are better choices and worse choices. • Hobbes purports that the mind is driven by will and not based on what is best or what is right • People call what they desire good and their aversions bad- e.g. if one is afraid of dogs, then one would run away from a dog. That would be good in that case.
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