Hobbes Lectures

Hobbes Lectures - Hobbes January 16, 2008 Hobbes' Life....

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Hobbes January 16, 2008 Hobbes’ Life. Hobbes was born in 1588. Hobbes’ life was deeply impacted by the English Civil War beginning in 1642. Charles I was executed in London in 1649. Hobbes tends to support the monarchy against the Parliament. Hobbes’ Life Hobbes flees to England to escape persecution for his views in 1640. Hobbes composes the Leviathan while in France and publishes it in 1650. In 1652 Hobbes returns to England – a somewhat risky move. He continues to support a strong monarchy. But even the now limited monarchs keep their distance from Hobbes. Hobbes dies in 1679. Cultural Influences. The culture of the medieval Europe was fairly monolithic. The were relatively fixed cultural forms that provided the framework for a meaningful human life. But now things are changing. The old cultural anchors are gone. Cultural Influences. Copernicus and Galileo have turned traditional astronomy and physics on their heads. These were not just corrections in theories but shattered a whole worldview. The earth was seen to be the center of God’s creation. The idea that the earth was not the center was an earth shattering idea. Cultural Influences. In Medieval Europe the Catholic Church was the sole religious authority. The Protestant Reformation changed all that. Now there were many theological options. But these were not simply theological choices but hotly contested political alignments. People died in wars of religion. Cultural Influences. These wars of religion threw the traditional feudal social structure into disarray. A rising economic middle class was coming to power. The traditional foundations of state authority were up for grabs. Leviathan It is in this environment that Hobbes writes the Leviathan. He is trying to find a foundation for a social structure that will provide peace. He bases this on a thought experiment: What if there were no government? What would humans be like? Why would we have to create a government? How would we go about creating such a government? Human Nature.
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In order to say what human community should be like, Hobbes needs to say what individual humans are like. Thus he begin with an analysis of human nature. He address three primary areas: Passions. Choice and will. Reason. Reason Hobbes makes a significant shift in the notion of reason. For the ancients reason was about getting it right. Getting at the substantive truth. Reason was more like intellectual vision. Reason For moderns like Hobbes, reason is less about a spiritual vision for life. The experiences of conflicting notions of the good life – especially the wars of religion – left people with the feeling that there was no common good that everyone could agree on. It is no longer reason’s task to arrive at this common good.
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course ACS 1001 taught by Professor Musachhio during the Winter '08 term at Villanova.

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Hobbes Lectures - Hobbes January 16, 2008 Hobbes' Life....

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