I have some thoughts every now and again while reading Leviathan that I'd like to share with the group.
The book presents itself to me in a systematic way. The definitions at the beginning of the book and throughout it are a telltale sign of how Hobbes constructs his arguments and how he will attempt to persuade a reader to accept his logic and reasoning. The definitions are the most obvious example of his tact. Once I noticed this, I read his arguments expecting to translate each paragraph by qualifying definitions and statements made previously in the book - it's a progressive, stone on stone, way to build. A reader must do this in order to fully understand the author and to 'read between the lines' when needed.
His background as a domestic has me very concerned but at the close of 'Of Man', I'm starting to wonder just how much loyalty Hobbes has to a monarchical government. Is he showing contempt, exploring options, or trying to persuade readers that monarchy is more democratic and beneficent than it is.
His views on equality are striking. I wonder when this type of philosophy really took off. I have to do some more research on this but it appears it may have come from Rousseau's influence. I'm almost sure this is the case, so is there a need to cite Hobbes as a major contributor of the notion of equality?
With respect to this... I was expecting to read a book explicitly propounding the need and justification for a monarchical government but that's just not the case. I find in the book multiple arguments against kingship - which I probably owe to mistranslating the text and not accurately assigning correct meaning to words and sentences. Still, though...
"Nature hath made men so equall, in the faculties of body, and mind; as that though there bee found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind then another; yet when all this is reckoned together, the difference between man and man is not considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himselfe any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he."
How does a person reconcile this sentence with the justification for monarchy? That all men are about the same so one ruling them all should be ok? Weak.
What about the recurring theme that men are the worst judges in their own cases? Well, a monarch is his only judge.
One of the main reasons that people enter into society for Hobbes is the protection of promises and of covenants. The need for a power to keep people to their word and their contracts. He says that without this power that promises will be rarely kept except in certain cases. That there is only a state of war and that men will do what they will do for their benefit only.
What's not made clear is that there is no awesome power over the sovereign. This means that the people have no right to expect promises to be kept by the nobility and that they are in a state of war with them.
The statement I loved the most was, "For there are very few so foolish, that had not rather governe themselves, than be governed by others..." What does this mean????? What is it doing in this book? See why I'm confused?
The second law of nature says it all... wouldn't a monarch violate this law?
And of the social contract itself. This BEGS examining. The covenant he talks about incessantly. What exactly is it. I know it to be a transferring of rights through words, silence, actions... jeez anything really. What compels a man - he says this... but what really makes it valid....?"Covenants entered into by fear, in the condition of meer Nature, are obligatory. For example, if I Covenant to pay a ransome, or service for my life, to an enemy; I am bound by it. For it is a Contract, wherein one receiveth the benefit of life; the other is to receive mony, or service for it; and consequently, where no other Law (as in the condition of meer Nature) forbiddeth the performance, the Covenant is valid."
Listen, I hoped I made my argument at least semi-reasonable that when dealing with a King, you are in a state of nature and a state of war. So, this sentence here is THE reason there is a covenant. It is might and fear which makes the social contract valid. The might and fear which holds a person to do whatever it wishes - is Justice when that act is performed. When the act requested by the mighty is not performed by the weak - injustice has occurred. But the catch is that there is absolutely NO power over a monarchy and so any promise made by them is automatically VOID. It's a one sided agreement to be made because, after all, doing what you're told is better than death or bodily harm?
Power. How many times has the power of the multitude really been examined? Never. Men are always equal in that they're divided, weak, and self serving.
I do have more to say and I'll save it for another day.