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How shall this discussion be organized? 
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 How shall this discussion be organized?
I've seen the Table of Contents for Leviathan but am not sure of the best method for structuring or organizing this discussion. Does anyone have suggestions?
President Camacho, as the discussion leader and someone who has already started reading this classic, do you have any insights to how this discussion would best be formatted? I don't see chapter threads working.



Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:29 am
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
I'll definitely give it some thought tonight and I'm definitely open to suggestions from those who wish to read, interpret, and explore how this seminal piece of political philosophy has influenced governments and policy of yesterday and today.

I'm not a professor or expert of political philosophy or history, although I have an interest in both. I bring a very limited knowledge to the discussion so I'll probably be augmenting my knowledge with other resources besides the book. If anyone else feels they'd do a better job leading the discussion - I'm no tyrant.

Some of my goals will be:

1. To develop a sense of where this book fits in with the evolution of political thought
2. To bring in experts to help supplement and/or simplify Hobbe's philosophy as needed
2. To tie in the political philosophy with contemporary issues
4. To never use the # 3 in any list; goals or otherwise
5. To see how the philosophy itself fits or doesn't fit with today
6. To contrast/compare Hobbes with other political philosophers
7. To discuss the motives for writing the book
8. To make discussions lively and fun
9. To not molest anyone... or at least publicly apologize if I do



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Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:47 pm
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
#3 looks good. :-)

I should be honest. I voted for this, but after browsing through the document online, I don't think I'm going to read it. I realize I should have my BT membership revoked or something.


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Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:35 pm
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
LOL. Chris did a great job by offering two non-fictions so hopefully you'll enjoy the other one. I wish I could persuade you to join the discussion. You'd put a classic under your belt and there is no better opportunity than this to make such a daunting read a little easier and enjoyable.

Either way, I plan to post some excerpts on controversial points of view and ANYONE can join in these philosophical questions without reading much. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to government; they have a right and a duty to. I want to hear what people think and get them confident in their decisions (popular or not) in order that they might throw their weight around on the boards a little.



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Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:14 pm
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
Alright, I think the best course may be to make threads for each part and then have the rest pretty much made up as I go. The Parts will give people a chance to make their own comments on particular sections in the book and I'll wind up making other threads for specific issues addressed inside the book which will be tailored to illicit comments from the readership and the community in general.

I'm very much open to suggestions! :)



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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
umm... you did two number twos in your list, and your number four makes no sense at all

nasty brutish and short

abominable atheism

state and empire - relation to Locke, Hume, property and science.

Yes, Hobbes is interesting.


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Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:36 pm
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
Robert sure is a stickler for detail. LOL



Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:19 am
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
President Camacho wrote:
LOL. Chris did a great job by offering two non-fictions so hopefully you'll enjoy the other one. I wish I could persuade you to join the discussion. You'd put a classic under your belt and there is no better opportunity than this to make such a daunting read a little easier and enjoyable.

Either way, I plan to post some excerpts on controversial points of view and ANYONE can join in these philosophical questions without reading much. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to government; they have a right and a duty to. I want to hear what people think and get them confident in their decisions (popular or not) in order that they might throw their weight around on the boards a little.


I'll start reading and see where it goes. I've heard a lot about Leviathan of course and I've always wanted to read it. I'd like to discover the context of this passage:

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.


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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
Actually there are several versions of Leviathan. Impulsively, I went with these two:

http://www.amazon.com/Leviathan-Oxford- ... rvi_cart_2

http://www.amazon.com/Leviathan-Selecte ... rvi_cart_1

Leviathan is structured into four large sections:

I Of Man
II Of Commonwealth
III Of A Christian Commonwealth
IV Of The Kingdom of Darkness

Hobbes' section 'On Man' is an attempt to explain human beings' function in the "state of nature" and is thus a sort of scientific text. However, Leviathan was written well before Darwin, so obviously it has to be understood in that context. I might have been tempted to skip Part III which one can expect to contain a lot of rationalizing and proselytizing of Christianity. But, in fact, Hobbes, was called an atheist by some of his peers, and his views were considered to be rather unorthodox at the time. Edwin Curley, in his introduction, said that Hobbes, who lived about the time of Shakespeare, might be viewed a theist in a modern definition. Indeed, one can wonder how Leviathan which is ultimately an argument for an absolute monarchy might have influenced Thomas Jefferson and other U.S. founding fathers who were very much opposed to monarchies and felt that power should ultimately lie with the people. I'm also interested in reading this in context of today's burgeoning financial crises, especially in Europe, where emerging entitlement states are leading to bankrupt nations. If 'the people,' over time, tend to gravitate towards socialism, then Democracy needs to be reformed. Can Leviathan still be relevant in the modern political state? I'm sure in many ways it is.


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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
The State of Nature is something that interests me a lot. I see this as a justification to explain man's role before the social contract was made. The State of Nature is used by a lot of English political philosophers of the time (1600's) and is probably more established in myth than in reality or science. I want to know WHY a precedent was looked for. English law is based in history and precedent. To try and establish some time as predating the written word (which came out of civilizations already established) without any type of proof is to create a fictional story... you're trying to rationalize the legitimacy of something and void something else - as in Law. The monarchy? Locke did just this... The Monarchy was illegal! What will Hobbes do with it, I have no idea. These philosophers use this imaginary time and state (state of nature) as a springboard to 'prove' their own ideas.

Well, I think it's important to keep in mind what is just in any government; whether it be a monarchy, an aristocracy, an oligarchy, or a democracy. The ends of any just government should be... what? There are so many facets to this question. Some want a government to groom its citizens into living not only happily but nobly as well! And who constitutes the citizenry anyway?

Though I agree with Locke in the respect that the majority is the only legitimate rule, I agree with Aristotle that the multitude serving the interests of themselves at the expense of the Nation is a tyranny and unjust... just like one man or a small group doing the same.

Leviathan has relevancy because it's a large piece of history in the development of political thought - whether or not it had any direct effect on actual policy remains to be seen.


I want to add that I will not be able to start the book until January! I have a research paper to write and am finishing up with another book. So feel free to post or open new threads. I will start reading in January.



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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
Geo wrote:
If 'the people,' over time, tend to gravitate towards socialism, then Democracy needs to be reformed.


:agreed: :yeahthat: :word: :goodjob: :wow: :nothingtoadd: :outstanding: :terrific: :goodpost: :youreright:



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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
I wonder why we are considering not discussing the book serially chapter by chapter. It's how I for one plan to read this book.

I think that in our day and time reading the classics that formed our opinion of what government ought to be, as we are proposing to do here, is extremely important. Obviously there is great dissatisfaction with the current governmental system, particularly in regards to the rules under which wealth is distributed. The Wall Street protest movement is a direct outcome of that dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, unlike the other populist movement under way in our country (I refer to the Tea Party) the Wall Street protesters appear to have no constructive agenda other than to express dissatisfaction. They are not suggesting any constructive or realistic alternatives.

By reading the political classics on the nature of government itself and doing some careful fundamental thinking about the way government was structured, not structured, and why that is, I believe it may be possible to bring forth ideas at a more fundamental level in order to formulate a positive constructive alternative that would give this march on Wall Street movement a purpose: namely the transformation of our society to a more just (in the sense of economic equity) and prosperous one for, if not all, most. It is in this sense and for this purpose that I intend to direct my reading of Leviathan.

Starting with the first couple chapters, I must admit I find Hobbes' writing a bit irrelevant. He makes a lot of epistemological distinctions in a somewhat trite and banal manner, such as the difference between memory, sense perception, and dreams.

The first sentence that I read that seems to me to have some relevance to today, that gets me thinking seriously, is near the end of chapter 2, the last sentence of the third to last paragraph:

"If ... superstitious fear of spirits were taken away, and with it prognostics from dreams, false prophecies, and many other things depending thereon, by which crafty ambitious persons abuse the simple people, men would be more fitted than they are for civil obedience."

What an amazing statement! Hobbes appears to be asserting that educating people away from superstitious folly (and I imagine applied today this means disabusing them of nonsense beginning with what appears in supermarket tabloids up through and including such superstitious folly as what religions peddle) would make them more civilly obedient. The intelligentsia as obedient civil servants? Hobbes appears to take this notion as a given and does not argue much of a coherent case for it. In an age which burned witches - Hobbes mentioned this phenomenon a paragraph or two before the quoted sentence - I can see why he might assume his statement to not require substantiation. But I don't think his statement applies today. I believe civil disobedience is at least as likely to be performed today by an intelligent, well-read, reasoning person as by a superstitious simpleton, and ought to be, assuming there is a purpose or constructive agenda behind the civil disobedience.

On the flip side of the coin, I wonder if it is okay or desirable to manipulate simple people through their superstitions or other cherished, firmly-held simplistic conceptions into civil obedience for a "good cause"? Was this in fact accomplished during our Revolutionary War, or the recently concluded War on Iraq?

Having read these first two chapters, I very much look forward to thinking about and discussing the remaining forty-six.



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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
Hey, Dan. I don't know if we've met before. Great post. I'm going to make some threads later tonight. In the past, I've seen a book chopped up so thoroughly, chapter by chapter, that the potatoes never touch the steak. I think it'll be advantageous to group this work into large parts containing several chapters and then try to make threads which bring them all together and encourage discussion - such as which issues have relevancy, what views may have influenced policy, how effective the ideology was in bringing about political change, if it would be beneficial or not to apply any of these views today.... and so on.

This should make not only for a better discussion but should help everyone retain what Hobbes proposes.

Don't be afraid to make your own threads. Go for it... and if you feel you want to lead the discussion, Ive led plenty already. I'll be very happy to move aside and get someone else involved. :)

I'll be starting the book in January.



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Post Re: How shall this discussion be organized?
Hi PC. I am a relative newcomer here and so defer to your wisdom in preferring to set the discussion up over sections and on topics. I will continue my reading and commenting by chapter privately, and not post it until you establish the format. At that point, I'll post relevant parts of what I have written in order to be consistent (in compliance) with your format. I think that will work fine. I look forward to the discussion really beginning next month then.



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