Hobbes - SAM BLACK PHIL 120: NOTES ON HOBBES N B: the page...

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SAM BLACK PHIL 120: NOTES ON HOBBES NB: the page numbers refer when given refer R. Tuck edition of Leviathan , (Cambridge UP). The Set-up: Suppose you are attracted by a Nietzschean master morality. i) You are convinced that Judao/Christian, Kantian and Utilitarian emphasis that all human beings ought to count equally is a mistake. ii) You are determined to live the good life and pursue ‘the will to power’. You believe that keeping promises, and obeying the law are for the weak. What you ought to do is impose your will on others. Q: Have you made a mistake? Ans. Hobbes: Yes. You are a fool. Synopsis: When humans find themselves in the state of nature, 1
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they discover that: "the life of man is solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short". If they are rational – according to a standard for reason that is egoistic and subjective -- they’ll realize that the only way to avoid the state of nature is to follow the laws of nature. These laws instruct them to seek peace. The only way to achieve peace is to give up their natural right -- to identify the means to their self-preservation -- to a state. The state must be absolute (not constrained by a judiciary and a constitution). Each human being has a reason to accept this conclusion – regardless of their religious and moral outlook. This includes amoral people (people who do not make moral judgments), and immoral people (people who endorse moral judgments with the wrong content). Slogan : In the state of nature life is short, nasty and brutish. Historical Background: The Wars of Religion in the C17th. Hobbes is writing at a time when the wars of religion had destroyed Western Europe – when Europe was like Iraq. 1. Human Nature : Hobbes’s assumptions about human nature conflicts with the views of anarchists 2
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Anarchists, hippies and Utopians believe that human beings are naturally cooperative. Others have claimed that while people are selfish now, their selfish nature is artificial and results from the introduction of private property (Rousseau, Marx). Hobbes rejects the view that humans will cooperate in the absence of coercive controls. 2. Methodological Rationalism and the historical background for Leviathan: The difference b/n faith and reason pertains to the transparency or publicity of the evidence that is appealed to in support of a conclusion. For the Methodological Rationalist , conclusions reached by reason have supporting premises that can be examined by everyone. This contrasts with making appeal to Faith and revelation that are private experiences that resist public scrutiny. Explanation: In contexts where there are wars of religion there is radical disagreement about the contents of revelation. So it serves no practical purpose to ground morality and justice in faith. 3
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This note was uploaded on 07/15/2010 for the course PHIL 120 taught by Professor Evantiffany during the Spring '08 term at Simon Fraser.

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Hobbes - SAM BLACK PHIL 120: NOTES ON HOBBES N B: the page...

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