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Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

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Audrey O'Brien

on 10 May 2016

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Transcript of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

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Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
Hobbes' State of Nature
“So that in the
nature of man,
we find three principal
causes of quarrel
:

First,
Competition
;
Secondly,
Dissidence
;
Thirdly,
Glory.

The first, maketh
men invade for Gain;
the second, for

Safety;
and the third, for
Reputation.

The first use
Violence, to make themselves Masters
of other men's persons, wives, children and cattle;
the second,
to defend them
;
the third
, for trifles
, as a word, a smile,
a different opinion,
and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their Persons, or by reflexion in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name.”


". the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. ... The condition of man ... is a condition of war of everyone against everyone"
The Leviathan Metaphor
"For by Art is created that great
Leviathan called a Commonwealth
or State which is but an Artificial Man
;
though of greater stature and strength than the Natural
, for whose
protection and defense
it was intended; and in which, the
Sovereignty is an Artificial Soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body ..."


"During the time
men live without a common power to keep them all in awe
,
they are in that conditions called war
; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man."
The Impacts of "Leviathan"
England:
Leviathan was mocked for half a century after Hobbes' death for its call to restore a partially democratic monarchy, with an absolute leader and no aristocracy. However, his writings contributed to both the Restoration and Enlightenment.
American Constitution:
After the American Revolution, Hobbesian philosophy contributed significantly to the composition of the Constitution. Hobbes' outline of a strong centralized government and equality among men (minus an absolute leader) was key to the crafting of American federalist's ideal government.
"Consent of the Governed"- Absolute rulers are there to protect and serve the people.
Leviathan
Argument: Civil society is achieved through a social agreement enforced by an absolute governing body.
What does "Leviathan" tell us about Hobbesian beliefs?
State of Nature:
Man is wicked and inherently without morality. Morals are imposed only by civilization; the state of nature is the state of war.

Social Contract:
Governments are meant to control, protect, and prevent war. Security and civil obedience is imperative. Constituents consent to the governing body, not control.
Leviathan: Impacts on Modern Western Political Writers
State of Nature
: Man is neither good or bad, they have the will to choose either. Men prefer civilization to the state of nature, but are neutral in either regard.
Social Contract:
Liberty and Property are the two key values the state must uphold versus Hobbes' protection of life.
State of Nature:
Opposed to Hobbes: "Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains." Man is born moral, civilization corrupts. "Noble Savages"
Social Contract:
Unite humanity into harmony versus Hobbes' "prevent war."
Role of Government: The public controls completely, versus Hobbes' strong central gov't that the people consent to.
Thomas Hobbes: Historical Context
Neoclassical philosopher, influenced by the 17th century Scientific Revolution - English Civil War a politically formative experience
Believed human impulse was inherently wicked and needed to be controlled
Hobbes' fiction explores the themes of human nature and the role of government to uphold a reasonable society
Passion vs. Reason and Knowledge is Power
Thomas Hobbes uses metaphor to convey the ideal nature of a governing system by comparing it to the brutal biblical sea creature the Leviathan.

Revelation 13:1 -
"
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."


The Leviathan, a frightening and powerful force, is described as the parallel to a strict but necessary commonwealth meant to preserve peace and control man's destructive impulses.

This rings of the Machiavellian 'loved vs feared' debate of effective leadership.
Human nature is inherently competitive, anarchic, and proud/in search of glory/fame in nature .
Men invade nations and territories first for profit, next to feel secure from attack, and finally to attain fame.
Men use violence to defend against those who think differently from themselves because they fear their way of live is constantly threatened. Men perpetually fight for their own self interests.
Humanity without civil rule will always be in a state of war against new ideas, other nations, and whoever threatens their success. Hence, it is the job of a commonwealth to keep the peace.
The "Leviathan" is the leader of a Commonwealth who takes the place of man and installs a social contract to maintain order.
The "Leviathan" or leader of this commonwealth has more power than the common man to protect him from his own destructive tendencies.
The commonwealth, while harsh and authoritative protects from war and chaos, and allows the body to be free, even if he has less liberties.
A common power, or leader, instills a sense of fear to keep men in order
If there is no authoritative leadership preventing man's action, they will constantly have arbitrary and devastating wars.
1642-1651
English Civil War
A series of armed conflicts fueled by dissent against the structure of the English government. This led to the ousting of Charles Ist's monarchy, implementation of a new constitution, creation of a Commonwealth that was led by the rule of Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell: Cromwell, a strict Puritan, shut down theaters, inns, pubs and other forms of enjoyment for the people of England. Additionally, women were confined to repressive relgious rules. Finally, despite his Puritan dogma, Cromwell viciously hated Irish Catholics and slaughtered their villages. After Cromwell's death, Charles II was asked to return to England to restore peace and happiness.
Leviathan: Impacts on Modern Western Political Writers
Jean Jacques Rousseau
John Locke
Full transcript