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Hobbes

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grant.w.underwood Posted: Wed, Jun 6 2012 8:48 PM

So i started college this week.  yay me.  One of my courses is poli sci (obviously an intro class, american government).  

Well my professor is a cocky kid (hes teaching while getting his PHD) who believes a monarchy where the king has complete and total control is the best forms of government (quote from class: the best government  is one that can kill its people as quick as possible when its government is questioned) and he WORSHIPS Hoppes.

THere is too much Rothbard and Mises i havent read to waste reading leviathan right now.

so does anyone know any chapters of books or a short book about hobbes

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You mean your TA, not a professor, do not call him professor to his face.  Do not give him the satisfaction.

Essays written on Hobbes.

Leo Strauss - History of Political Philosophy - p.354

Bertrand Russell - History of Western Philosophy - p. 546

Ethics (Modern Library) - p. 134 (This is a 15 page selection from Part I (Of Man) and Part II (Of Commonwealth).

You could also read John Locke (I'm sure he is next in your class reading list.  Then, probably Roussau, Montesquieu and the Federalists and the 'anti' lettters) as Locke critiques Levithan in his Second Treatise.

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he has a TA though.  so i really dont know what he is, but dont worry i will only call him "excuse me".

thanks. for the links  

i was thinking about john locke just for the spirit of the class and i just got the second treatise free off ibooks yesterday.  he claimed that locke's idol was hobbes and all of locke's ideas came from what hobbes has written about already.  so anytime locke is mentioned it is immediately followed with a power point slide about how hobbes thought of it first and how his idea is better.  

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Except Locke didn't aggrandize the state.  Hobbes sole intention was to figure out a way to prevent civil wars.  He's not that special.  I think he was a rhetorician and deeply religious.  Ask your teacher, "If in Hobbes world people are assumed to not socially or economically cooperate to an acceptable level and that a "social contract" will solve this dilemma, what makes them able to successfully agree on the social contract?"  You can mention that it would seem implausible to think people are too "brutish" to contract privately just one on one; so the logical solution is to get everyone together under one big contract?  Everyone always solves others problems if two people can't figure out, right?  Sounds like snake oil to me.

Rousseau is equally idiotic.  'The general will will be the guide, but it is not all's will, all's will would be chaos; the sovereign is the general will and therefore can never harm itself; if people refuse to bend to the general will, then they would need to be forced to be free.'

Sure.  Sure...

Strauss on Hobbes Civil Association

Here is an essay on Bertrand Russell's essay on Hobbes' essay (tertiary sources, hahah)

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This is a pretty good paper taking a stab at the Hobbesian position,

Reflections on the Origin and Stability of the State

Ask your TA the following question which complements Aristophanes' query here (although, it can probably be called the same query but reworded): if Hobbes' argument is correct, that all contracts must be enforced by neutral third-parties and that anything less will result in chaos, then how can nation-states exist? How does the existence of nation-states not refute Hobbes' argument? What stops Hobbes' argument from spiraling into infinite regress?

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[Ignore this post].

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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Why take such an adversarial stance to an argument who you haven't read?

 

Also, his teacher isn't a TA. TAs don't have their own classes (i.e. teaching assistant).

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Also, his teacher isn't a TA. TAs don't have their own classes (i.e. teaching assistant).

I guess this is true, but they are at the same level...graduate (or he said PhD i think; it doesn't make a difference).  I've had grad students, particularly for Latin, and PhD candidates for calculus (they are students under the direction of a dept. head who manages everything; ie assisting the teacher).  They teach no brainer stuff.  And not once did I have a grad student teaching a class of substance.  He is teaching probably 201 or something not 580. 

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I recommend reading Hobbes' Leviathan if you want to look the gift horse in the mouth.

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Hobbes sole intention was to figure out a way to prevent civil wars.  He's not that special.  I think he was a rhetorician and deeply religious.

In terms of religion, the exact opposite is true.

Also, I second Autolykos' recommendation. You really have to read the primary texts in order to comment on it in any substantial manner. Otherwise, you end up strawmanning by forming arguments and counterarguments based on secondary sources. Primary sources first. Secondary sources second.

“Remove justice,” St. Augustine asks, “and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms?”
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In terms of religion, the exact opposite is true.

Are you sure?

Ironically, I'm going to quote a secondary source...

In the Elements of Law Hobbes offers a cosmological argument for the existence of God (Hobbes 1640, 11.2). However, he argues, the only thing we can know about God is that he, “first cause of all causes”, exists. Our knowledge is limited in this way because our thoughts about God are limited: “we can have no conception or image of the Deity”. So when we seem to attribute features to God, we cannot literally be describing God (Hobbes 1640, 11.3). We're either expressing our inability, as when we call God incomprehensible, or we're expressing our reverence, as when we call God omniscient and just. The same indeed is going on when we call God a spirit: this is not “a name of anything we conceive”, but again a “signification of our reverence” (Hobbes 1640, 11.3).

Those three views — support for a cosmological argument, the belief that God is inconceivable by us, and the interpretation of apparent descriptions of God as not really descriptions — appear to recur in Leviathan (Hobbes 1651, 11.25, 12.6–9). However, in later work, such as the appendix to the 1668 Latin edition of Leviathan, Hobbes proposes a different view. The older Hobbes thought that we could know God to have at least one feature, namely extension.

There are some tricky general methodological questions here, about when we can reasonably say that an author is trying to communicate a view other than the one apparently stated. Note, however, that for someone allegedly covering up his atheism to avoid controversy, Hobbes took the curious approach of saying many other intensely controversial things. He was opposed to free will and to immaterial souls, opposed to Presbyterianism and to Roman Catholicism, and managed to have anti-royalists thinking he was a royalist, but at least one prominent royalist (Clarendon) thinking he supported Cromwell. This was not a recipe for a quiet life. One might see Hobbes as thinking that these things could be said with controversy, but God's existence only denied with genuine danger. But one needs, at least, a fairly complex story about Hobbes's attitudes in order to sustain the view that he was sneakily suggesting that God didn't exist.

I knew Hobbes wasn't Augustine, but I thought for sure that he was religious, maybe not "deeply" as I had thought.

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Aristophanes:
I knew Hobbes wasn't Augustine, but I thought for sure that he was religious, maybe not "deeply" as I had thought.

The entire second half of Leviathan (300+ pages) is Biblical stories justifying Hobbes' theory in the first half.

 

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Yeah, because everyone and their mother knew them all back then.  Most authors drew those parallels.  It doesn't mean he was truly religious.  But, again, I'm sure that he was I just don't know the specifics.

Didn't he almost get executed for heresy?

EDIT: I removed my quote, it was an accident.

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Aristophanes:
It doesn't mean he was truly religious.

I misread the post.

Aristophanes:
Didn't he almost get executed for heresy?

Almost. Also regard the section where the definition of atheism in those days is spelled out.

--

What does the Bernanke article have to do with my post?

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jun 11 2012 5:56 AM

Considering that Hobbes's most lasting legacy is to indoctrinate all our youth that life in the state of nature is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short," I think he is the one who has caused the most damage to the liberty movement in the history of mankind as I know it.

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Considering that Hobbes's most lasting legacy is to indoctrinate all our youth that life in the state of nature is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short," I think he is the one who has caused the most damage to the liberty movement in the history of mankind as I know it.

Yea, right.  Have you heard of the Catholic Church?

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i appreciate the reading suggestions and they were exactly what i was looking for.

 
i do intend to read leviathan one day.  there are just way to many books that i deem more important at the moment.  i havent even read Human Action yet! 
 
I am also not doing this just to start arguments, but if he rants about how a government needs to be able to kill its people if they disagree i intend to say something.  A small child would be able to fight that argument and win. 
 
i also want to know if my teacher follows Hobbes completely and/or if he passes off information as an original thought that is actually Hobbesian.
 
lastly, was leviathan a socialist society? or did he just conclude that an absolute monarchy is best and whatever the king wants is best?
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Anenome replied on Tue, Jun 12 2012 5:17 PM
 
 

grant.w.underwood:
i havent even read Human Action yet! 

It's tough... 400 pages of defining his terms before the book even begins, <_<;;; Certainly admirable to define terms first of course.

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That's what you got out of the first 400 pages?

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