PHL265 Lecture Notes.docx

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19 Apr 2012
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PHL265 Lecture 1 Introduction to Political Philosophy M Sept 12, 2011
Why does x get to rule? And is this fair?
-middle ages - ruler and ruled; king over kingdom, master over slave; naturally inferior by nature
-revulsion of this idea was new in the 17th century; there are no natural rulers thus
-power of one man over another must be explained else it is morally artificial
-if there are no natural rulers, how and why are there artificial rulers? E.g. prime minister; social contract
-political power must be given by those being ruled by an agreement or social contract
Locke you cannot agree to give something away that is not truly yours i.e. selling yourself as a slave
What kind of things can a person agree to and how is this agreement to be made binding?
PHL265 Lecture 2 Introduction to Hobbes Leviathan CH 10&11 W Sept 14, 2011
On the title:
-Leviathan is a character in the book of Job, Hebrew bible
-in the book he is a sea monster God wrestled prior to creation
-the Leviathan is he with whom no covenant can be made; cannot bargain with this monster
-fight with him once, and lose your taste for battle
-king of the prowl explaining allowance for an irresistible ruler as the only chance for the survival of all men
-it is not up to man to question the ruler
Step 1 in Reading Hobbes identify the Argument
Hobbes’ Introduction
-starts off by saying the key to understanding political society and human beings is to understand what they are
composed of
-human body as a clock the right way to analyze humans is to analyze their individual parts; as how a clock would be
analyzed by its gears, strings, etc.
Resolutive Compositive Method: how parts fit together to compose the whole
-world was subject to a natural ordering in medieval thought
-why do we have fingers, because they are for grasping
-thinking of the parts of the hand in terms of the purpose of the whole
-parts in terms of their contribution to the whole
-the reason an object falls is to return back to that which it was made of wood floats because it is a composite of earth
and air
-everything having a proper place and purpose in the world
-how fast something falls doesn’t rely on how much it weights
Hobbes’ visit to Galileo – changed medieval thought
-nature must be expressed and explained by mathematical formula
-and so Hobbes explaining things as a whole is invalid
-a human body stays alive because e.g. the heart beats, not because its natural purpose is survival
-so thus, understand humans in terms of the parts of the mind, the springs of motivation, what people seek
-i.e. Aristotle’s human purpose to seek the good life
Hobbes’ purpose – honour and profit
-restless seeking of power after power that ceases only with death
-a present means to a future good
-basic motivation is to get what you want and get tools that will help you accomplish your future wants
-constant desire is to spring against others with the same wants
Profit tools to attain future goods, a form of power
Honour the esteem of others, a form of power also
-eloquence is a form of honour because it alludes to prudence
-we care about honour by nature, not just for power; we like to think we are superior
-best way to study humanity is to study oneself although we tend to be unable to see our desire for honour, so look to
the desire of honour in other people instead
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English Civil War was over religion
-Hobbes denies this purpose; instead it is fighting to be right
-God; can only infer an effect from its cause
-fire as the cause of warmth, but, cannot automatically infer other properties or effects of fire by just observing one or
some effects of it
-when we battle on what we think is God’s nature, there is no basis in science to prove his nature and so, not fighting for
religion because it is right, but because it is the religion of oneself; fighting for own beliefs
-nature is not necessarily good or bad, we give it meaning because it is ours
-religious warfare in terms of glory rather than in terms of religion
So we cannot focus on what is worthwhile to humanity; there is only the meaning that the individual gives it
-to think of political society is to recognize that it is not natural
Aristotle man is rational and political
Hobbes man is rational and thus by nature not fit for political society
-bees are naturally social, the existence of a group
-humans are not naturally social; profit is antisocial, honour is social but is for a negative purpose
-political society as an artificial structure
-a fundamental feature of an organism is that if it suffers minor damage it can repair itself, if it is elseways functional
-a natural whole is necessarily self-repairing
-an artificial whole requires outside agencies to repair it e.g. the government’s role to the commonwealth
-political society is not self-sustaining and will fall apart
-the outside agency is the Leviathan
PHL265 Lecture 3 Introduction to Hobbes Leviathan CH 13&17 M Sept 19, 2011
-humans are by nature comparative always concerned with our positions among others
-think of ourselves in terms of others and in terms of superiors; this creates conflict
-understand human society as artificial as non-regenerative and non-repairing
-although this artificial thing is made of some natural parts, it is still artificial as a whole
-and so investigate natural conditions of mankind
-people are not necessarily selfish but more genuine go for what they really and truly want
-the idea that people are compassionate towards those they have links to; not necessarily in competition with these
-although, part of being someone’s friend is to not be friends with others and to care less about them
-people thus also care about what is most important, not just the cares of their friends
-situations where everyone gets along because it is best for the present advantage, but this is unstable and can be easily
upset, once benefit changes
These features lead to three types of conflict in which the state is the only solution
-all humans are fundamentally equal in power
-everyone has the power to get what they want and are equal in intelligence each is satisfied by his or her own share,
and everyone thinks they are equal or above other’s intelligence; this equality leads to conflict
1. Competition
-if everyone does what is to their advantage, a source of conflict arises
-if you know that everyone is pursuing their advantage, you go along and pursue your advantage as well
-if no one else is taking their advantage, you gain without losing
-in each case, it makes sense to operate for your own advantage always
-resources may thus be spent if everyone operates only to their own advantage
-the individual has no significant impact in solving a problem ; think of reducing global warming by carbon emissions;
everyone else is doing it so therefore I don’t need to e.g.
-Hobbes is not advocating immorality, but teaching us what will happen if we do not restrain our need to seek power
-socialization to live peaceably; if everyone is taking my property, I should be open to taking theirs; or lack of legal
system?
-what makes sense to do with normal human appetites?
-why restrain myself if no one else is leads to conflict
-we are prone to fundamental competition
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