Hobbes essay questions

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  1. Trust and the state of nature
  2. The best nonfiction books: No 94 – Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes () | Books | The Guardian
  3. Similar Topics

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Contractarianism: Crash Course Philosophy #37

More from all animals live and john locke disagreed on thomas myrna now! Living in dangers and sex: langston hughes salvation essay on the english philosopher, chap. But on the other hand, something was surely different after the period of Civil Wars and the victory of Cromwell. The old regime seemed surely as history and it was a time of building up a new one. Perhaps Hobbes thought that his Leviathan would become a cornerstone of the new Commonwealth of England, even though he later clearly denied that he wrote the Leviathan in favor of Cromwellian regime While the De Cive was a true success, especially on the continent, Leviathan was received with rage.

The outcome of this project was his philosophical summa , De Corpore. He knew it quite well from the astronomical discourses and used it naturally in his own texts concerning physics and astronomy. In this sense Hobbes returned to the origins of the concept of revolution, which he had used only metaphorically in his earlier political texts. It must have been an important question, since Hobbes devotes pages to describing the mathematical laws of circular movement that is revolution It was something that proved in the end that earth was not the centre of the universe but instead it was a planet that circled the sun.

Proving circular motion in a theoretical way was a major task since it opposed the understanding of movement that Aristotle had given which had been the prominent way of describing physics among scholastics. This is not to say that Aristotle did not know of circular motion, but he understood it from the basis of a different metaphysics What changed in astronomical revolution was in fact, among many other things, the very idea, or metaphysics of circular motion. Now circular motion proved that earth circles the sun, not the opposite as Ptolemy had suggested Hobbes seems to think that the revolution of a planet simply explains some things in the most truthful way.

Revolution is the same as circular motion; it is a route that a body makes. Some parts of our sense experience, Hobbes explains, are reliable while others not. This in fact was the very centre of the astronomical debate in the age of astronomical revolution: How on earth should we explain our sense experience to manifest something other than it manifests?

Trust and the state of nature

This calls for a new thinking and new metaphysics that explain circular movement, among others things, in a new way. Hobbes participated in this new wave by explaining theoretically what circular movement, a revolution, was all about. A wider audience was not interested about the questions concerning the squaring the circle that caused a bad reputation for Hobbes in scientific and mathematical societies. After all the scientific debates Hobbes decided to write one more political text, the history of English Civil Wars, Behemoth. It is also a normative study of the events between In Behemoth Hobbes writes about rebellion, mutiny and the causes for the events of civil war.

He also reflects on the possibilities of acting differently, that is, gives his advice to readers as to how one should act in those situations. At the very end of the book Hobbes concludes the dialogue by getting to the problem of revolution. Just before Charles II was put back in the throne, the situation in England was nearly the same as it was at the beginning of the war.

The best nonfiction books: No 94 – Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes () | Books | The Guardian

The Rump parliament was almost the same as the parliament in , except for those who had died. Most of the members of the parliament were Presbyterians. History gives us a lesson, but sometimes that lesson is not understood. The political power seemed to return to the original place where it had all begun. Nevertheless, this is only one part of the story. Another character of the dialogue, called A, denies this kind of revolution without progress. Something had changed, and this concerned the omnipotent power of the sovereign. Before the civil war, says Hobbes, the King had no simple rule over the militia.

Now the parliament had decided that the King was the only one who had the rule over the militia. Even the parliament itself could not argue against the King if he chose to use his power. This act means, for Hobbes at least, that the same kind of propagandist and seditious movement inside the Commonwealth would not be possible again. The King now had something that Hobbes wanted it to have: the rule over militia, the power over force and violence.

This suggests that Hobbes sees some progress in the events of the civil war and in fact, that his own idea of the omnipotent sovereign power, and especially the power of monarch, is now properly established. Second, he characterises the movement of sovereign power a circular motion. Two important aspects arise from this. Hobbes writes as if the sovereign power really was something separate from the person who carries it. Here he undisputedly applies his own theory of sovereignty to the events of the Civil War. Nevertheless, he does not see any serious lack of sovereignty at any phase of revolution.

He does not even claim that the form of sovereignty changed in some way at any point of revolution. This means that Hobbes sees the same body politic and its sovereignty existing continually during the revolution. Instead of this, the sovereignty moved from one person to another, and from one form of government to another, from one parliament to another.

This is a very strong argument from Hobbes, considering that in the English Civil Wars the absolute monarchy had ended and the Commonwealth of England established. Hobbes denies any kinds of change of sovereignty. The first one resembles the modern idea, or in some senses also the Christian idea, of revolution. It is a revolution where some kind of development happens.


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The second concept of revolution is more traditional. It is possible to interpret the second as a classical idea of cycle of regimes, but in many senses it resembles still more the modern conception of revolution than old. What is different from both classical and modern versions of regime change is that here, in the second, revolution is simply a full circle. Sovereignty is a body that goes a full circle without losing its power.


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The lowest of time, maybe a winter is obviously the reign of Cromwell. Instead the reign of King is the time of power and hope, a summer perhaps. The way that Hobbes uses the concept of revolution in Behemoth makes one wonder whether Hobbes tried, once again, to prove that his original theory of sovereignty was right. If the course of history would have proved in the case of Leviathan that his idea of sovereignty was a problematic one of what happens to the consistency of sovereignty during the regime change, the events after to instead made it possible to argue, that sovereignty did exist after all despite the regime change.

George Hobbes And Thomas Hobbes

This explanation was made possible because of the astronomical concept of revolution that seemed to fit the monarchy in other respects too. This time the political message to his audience seems to be that monarchy will survive despite the rebellion directed against it. Hobbes is not saying that this is some sort of law of nature, but he is not far from it.


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  4. It is primarily based on the astronomical understanding of the early modern period. But, even if one does not want to follow this line of interpretation, the fragments from his major works, especially Behemoth , prove that Hobbes really sees the English Civil Wars as a revolution. This conception of revolution is, however, in a complex and paradoxical relationship to the modern conception of revolution. In one sense the body politic even develops during the revolution: the original position where the sovereignty is attached to the King returns after negation, i.

    Hobbes argues that history teaches how a democratic commonwealth is not good for sovereignty, which belongs to the King.

    Similar Topics

    But revolution also involves some kind of development. Old powers are not only restored, but also improved. Since Hobbes does not see any true change in sovereignty and in spite of all the facts, he claims that the sovereignty lasted all the way through this revolution, he seems to stubbornly purport a view that the body politic lasts even through violent rebellions. His idea is at least controversial in historical terms, and it is perhaps in contrast with his own political theory too. Instead he claims that nothing has changed profoundly.

    In a way his argument is very easy to understand in the context in which Behemoth was written. Hobbes approach seems to acknowledge that the true rupture or loss of sovereignty would somehow damage the existing sovereignty. For Hobbes it is important to state that traditional sovereignty of England is still working. This, if nothing else, proves that Hobbes was not a revolutionary writer in a modern sense.

    In T he Elements of Law he seems simply to favour monarchy and states that rebellion will mean the total destruction of the commonwealth. This view on rebellion does not change along the way, but his view concerning the consistency of sovereignty develops. In Leviathan and especially in Behemoth Hobbes seems to argue, that sovereignty lasts throughout the changes that body politic is about to go. However, it is also possible that astronomical model of revolution that Hobbes introduced in De Corpore might have clarified his ideas concerning the regime change.

    It was now possible to state that regimes change but sovereignty stays and returns in the end to the monarchy in a developed and progressed form. While reading De Cive and Leviathan one can grasp how profoundly new his ideas of political order were in the 17 th century. He seemingly calls for a change in the commonwealth, by which he does not only mean the new King or a new parliament, but a much more profound reorganization of everyday life.

    There are certainly radical and revolutionary elements in his political theory. On the other hand, when reading Leviathan and Behemoth it seems that Hobbes does not call for a revolution, but for peace. Bringing peace to the society is the fundamental theme of his writings and it seems that he is ready to convince people to obey whatever the legal sovereign commands. Naming the action that might be called a revolution, as rebellion, Hobbes makes a distinction between his political doctrine and those of his contemporaries.

    Killing the people or the King like the rebellious factions though does not solve the political problems Instead, the commonwealth is changed fundamentally by the right kind of education.