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Naturall Lawes 
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
It helps me to list Hobbes' fundamental laws of nature. My book's notes tell me that Hobbes isn't entirely consistent with these. Basically we need to employ reason to avoid the state of war which is our natural state. So: 1) we aim for a state of peace; and 2) we agree lay down our right for all things; and 3) basically stick to our guns with regards to 1 & 2. Is that how you guys read this? I got lost with all that contract and covenant business towards the end of the OF MAN section.

1) The first and fundamental law of nature is to seek peace and follow it

Quote:
And because the condition of man (as hath been declared in the precedent chapter) is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to one another's body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time which nature ordinarily alloweth men to live. And consequently it is a precept, or general rule of reason: that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war. The first branch of which rule containeth the first and fundamental law of nature, which is: to seek peace and follow it. The second, the sum of the right of nature, which is: by all means we can to defend ourselves.
Hobbes, Lev XIV 4


2) The second law of nature is to claim only so much liberty against others as one would allow others against himself.

Quote:
From this fundamental law of nature, by which men are commanded to endeavour peace, is derived this second law: that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defence of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself. For as long as every man holdeth this right, of doing anything he liketh; so long are all men in the condition of war. But if other men will not lay down their right, as well as he, then there is no reason for anyone to divest himself of his: for that were to expose himself to prey, which no man is bound to, rather than to dispose himself to peace. This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them. And that law of all men, quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris.

To lay down a man's right to anything is to divest himself of the liberty of hindering another of the benefit of his own right to the same. For he that renounceth or passeth away his right giveth not to any other man a right which he had not before, because there is nothing to which every man had not right by nature, but only standeth out of his way that he may enjoy his own original right without hindrance from him, not without hindrance from another. So that the effect which redoundeth to one man by another man's defect of right is but so much diminution of impediments to the use of his own right original.
Hobbes, Lev XIV 5-6


3) The third law of nature is to keep your contracts, i.e., be just.

Quote:
FROM that law of nature by which we are obliged to transfer to another such rights as, being retained, hinder the peace of mankind, there followeth a third; which is this: that men perform their covenants made; without which covenants are in vain, and but empty words; and the right of all men to all things remaining, we are still in the condition of war.

And in this law of nature consisteth the fountain and original of justice. For where no covenant hath preceded, there hath no right been transferred, and every man has right to everything and consequently, no action can be unjust. But when a covenant is made, then to break it is unjust and the definition of injustice is no other than the not performance of covenant. And whatsoever is not unjust is just.
Hobbes, Lev XV 1-2


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Thanks, Geo, will re-read it. I agree, he is inconsistent. And in section three he seems to be disregarding most of what he has earlier written.


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Hey homeys,

Ran across this article by Michael Shermer in the Cato Institute in which he summarizes some of Hobbes' ideas. The article is well worth reading. Here's the passage pertaining to the natural laws and some of the themes we've discussed so far.

Quote:
In the state of nature everyone is free to exert power over others in order to gain greater pleasure. This Hobbes called the right of nature. Unequal passions among individuals living in nature lead to a state of “war of all against all.” Fortunately, Hobbes continued, humans have reason and can alter the right of nature in favor of the law of nature, out of which comes the social contract. The contract calls for individuals to surrender all rights (except self-defense) to the sovereign who, like the biblical Leviathan, is responsible only to God. Compared to a war of all against all, a sovereign presiding over the state is far superior and forms the basis for a rational society in which peace and prosperity are available on a mass scale.

Of course, we libertarians worry that Hobbes’ social contract can evolve into a state Leviathan that wields so much power that we have even fewer liberties than in the original state of nature. And so the history of modern politics has been a history of finding the right balance between the order brought about by living in a society based on the rule of law, and that rule becoming so draconian as to stifle our freedoms.


Article is here:

http://www.cato-unbound.org/2011/09/23/ ... d-justice/

My random thought of the day: it occurs to me that our contract with the Commonwealth creates a regimentation of society much like a bee or ant colony. We're not really in a state of peace, but the actual state of war is handled by specialists (mostly young men) in a national army. The rest of us get to do what we want, which is to make money, buy nice things, raise a family, etc. Honestly this syetm seems to work pretty well. Maybe I'm hanging around on a particular conservative web site too much, but it seems that the biggest problem we face is not so much losing power to the Commonwealth as Shermer suggests, but too much power to the people! I know, it sounds blasphemous. But in terms of the government giving us what we want — mainly entitlements that we have to borrow money to pay for — we seem to be digging ourselves in a hole.The borrowing can't last forever as we're finding out. We need our Commonwealth to step up and act like Dad who says "no, we can't afford it!"


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Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:36 pm
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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Hey geo,
Haven't been following along, but saw that post and didn't realize that Shermer is a libertarian. Does he endorse Hobbes' theoretical state of nature in which war is the rule? Again, haven't been doing the reading, but it seems as though this view isn't very accurate anthropologically. As far as we might go back into the history of h.sapiens, do we suppose that such a state really existed, I mean in contrast with what we have with the modern state? Hobbes makes it sound as though internal warfare would have been rampant in primitive social groups, which isn't likely given the strong social rules that were needed for groups to survive.

Your musing about the power loss is interesting. I think a case could be made, though not necessarily by me, that the commonwealth handing out so much to the people, even at their demand, is in fact another way of its amassing power.

Conservatives claim Thomas Jefferson as their founder, liberals do too. Isn't is interesting how they can both seem to be right? Jefferson seems to embody within himself the contradictions that then played out in our history as a conservative-liberal duel.


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Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:27 pm
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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Hi DWill,

Hobbes fancied himself as the Galileo of the social sciences, but his theories aren't really well scientifically grounded. I see his concept of Leviathan as a kind of extended metaphor. Hobbes himself viewed the commonwealth as as a body politic that mimics the human body. His state of war is a theoretical state. Humans have always lived in groups, so the concept of "every man for himself" probably doesn't really occur. I don't know if Hobbes theorized the natural state ever actually existed. But we see even on those reality shows like Survivor, where the object is for one individual to win, that participants tend to form groups and it increases their survival and ultimately boosts their own chances. Hobbes would have no knowledge of game theory, but his theories seem consistent with it. I think he gets it mostly right, even if he does for the wrong reasons. Hobbes was a very astute observer of human nature and he must have seen that we are all very selfish creatures by nature. Hobbes argued that our basic modus operandi is rooted in selfishness. This seems amazingly consistent with Dawkins' "selfish gene" theory which maintains that we're designed to survive and procreate (as a vehicle to carry our genes into the next generation). Hobbes suggests that even our altruistic acts our selfishly motivated. There's no such thing as true altruism.

By the way, I haven't read Ayn Rand yet, but both she and Hobbes seem to be on the same page with respect to what's called "psychological egoism."

http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/Egoism.html

Quote:
BY manners I mean not here decency of behaviour, as how one man should salute another, or how a man should wash his mouth, or pick his teeth before company, and such other points of the ‘small morals’; but those qualities of mankind that concern their living together in peace and unity. To which end we are to consider that the felicity of this life consisteth not in the repose of a mind satisfied. For there is no such finis ultimus (utmost aim), nor summum bonum (greatest good), as is spoken of in the books of the old moral philosophers. Nor can a man any more live whose desires are at an end than he whose senses and imaginations are at a stand. Felicity is a continual progress of the desire from one object to another, the attaining of the former being still but the way to the latter. The cause whereof is that the object of man’s desire is not to enjoy once only and for one instant of time, but to assure for ever the way of his future desire. And therefore the voluntary actions and inclinations of all men tend not only to the procuring, but also to the assuring, of a contented life, and differ only in the way; which ariseth partly from the diversity of passions in divers men, and partly from the difference of the knowledge or opinion each one has of the causes him produce the effect desired.

So that in the first place I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death. And the cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to, or that he cannot be content with a moderate power; but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well which he hath present, without the acquisition of more. And from hence it is that kings, whose power is greatest, turn their endeavours to the assuring it at home by laws or abroad by wars; and, when that is done, there succeedeth a new desire, in some of fame from new conquest, in others of ease and sensual pleasure, in others of admiration or being flattered for excellence in some art or other ability of the mind.

. . .


from Ch. XI


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
DWill wrote:
Your musing about the power loss is interesting. I think a case could be made, though not necessarily by me, that the commonwealth handing out so much to the people, even at their demand, is in fact another way of its amassing power.

Conservatives claim Thomas Jefferson as their founder, liberals do too. Isn't is interesting how they can both seem to be right? Jefferson seems to embody within himself the contradictions that then played out in our history as a conservative-liberal duel.


I'd say the tendency for politicians to pander to the voters is simply based on short-term gains of re-election. The larger problems such as 'how are we going to pay for this stuff' is passed down the line. So they do amass power in the short-term at the expense of our long-term goals. People are so short-sighted that they don't see (or don't want to see) the problems that lie ahead. This seems clearly a fatal flaw in our thinking and has poisoned our democratic system of government. Fiscal conservatism has not been practiced by either party for some time. The politicians are too busy giving the voters what they want, usually in the form of entitlements which after some years start to resemble top-heavy pension programs that can drag down a company.

I'm sorry for inflicting my own personal political beliefs into this discussion. You guys can call me on it or tell me to take it somewhere else.

What you say about Jefferson seems very true. That's a great observation. Was Jefferson himself conflicted or are liberals and conservatives just taking things out of context —cherry-picking from his writings?


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Thanks for the link Geo. I thought the book he mentioned by Stephen Pinker sounded interesting 'The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking, 2011).; Have you read it? Do you think it would be a good book for a general discussion?It's available on Kindle - a bit pricey, but I will raid my money box.


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
I've been wanting to read Pinker's The Blank Slate for some time. His latest is a behemoth at 832 pages. That'll scare off a few people. But it does sound interesting.


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
DWill,

I haven't read game theory and I'm really not very familiar. Based on my meager knowledge of modern bands and tribes, humans create social groups in order to survive in even the most marginal environments. In the most primitive tribes still in existence, there is no codified law and there is no 'ruler'. The tribe is extremely egalitarian. The person considered the leader of the tribe has no awesome power and uses his popularity, charisma, and charm to lead. He has no strong arm or awesome power as Hobbes' suggests is necessary. What is the incidence of war and crime in these societies as compared to our own Hobbesian Leviathan?

"The argument I advance is that the Hobbesian thesis is only partially correct. Anthropological evidence suggests that the state tends to reduce the amount of violent conflict in human societies. But political science data indicate that the state may, under certain conditions, also increase violence. Consequently, while the form of violent conflict may change from the "warre of every man against every man" (Hobbes [1651] 1909:98) to state tyranny directed against citizens, the sheer volume of violence may remain approximately the same. I therefore propose that the overall relationship between the state and violent conflict is U-shaped: High levels of violent conflict are found when state authority is weak or absent and when it is extremely strong or centralized."
-Mark Cooney American Sociological Review, 1997, Vol. 62 (April:316-338)


What Hobbes is advocating is an extremely strong, extremely top heavy, and extremely centralized ruling authority.



Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:48 am
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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
President Camacho wrote:

What Hobbes is advocating is an extremely strong, extremely top heavy, and extremely centralized ruling authority.


This may be true, but I think we can find some of Hobbes' ideas useful, especially if we put them in context with our more developed ideas about our natural rights. Hobbes argued that we have a right for self-preservation and that's about all he's willing to give us. Other philosophers have expanded our natural rights and I think Hobbes' theories to be relevant would have to reflect this changing ideal.

Hobbes: the essential natural (human) right was "to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own judgement, and Reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto." (Leviathan. 1,XIV)

Locke: there are three natural rights: 1) Life: everyone is entitled to live once they are created. 2) Liberty: everyone is entitled to do anything they want to so long as it doesn't conflict with the first right. 3) Estate: everyone is entitled to own all they create or gain through gift or trade so long as it doesn't conflict with the first two rights.

Jefferson: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Note Jefferson's wording here. These truths are self-evident and are inalienable. These aren't rights given to us or allowed to us by the government. They are our natural rights. The government cannot take them away from us. So this would be the basis for our social contract with the commonwealth.


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
I really like the idea of observing a changing ideal in natural law/rights.

Locke's political philosophy highly influenced Jefferson. From Locke we get the idea of Bona Civilia: Life, Liberty, health and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture and the like. Compare with Jefferson's philosophy above. Also, George Mason should be acknowledged.

We get 'all men are created equal' more from Locke than from Hobbes, although Locke's ideas of equality have caveats. But Hobbes does mention it. "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 so considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himselfe any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he."

The ideas of government are different. The government for Locke is the extension of the will of the people - the collected good. The government of Hobbes is a complete subjection to the whims of a sovereign - also for the good of the people.

Hobbes' form of government is incompatible with what he wants. You can't protect yourself from a sovereign - you're constantly in a state of war with him because you have no power to check his authority over you.

Locke "I desire to know what kind of government that is, and how much better it is than the state of nature, where one man commanding a multitude, has the liberty to be judge in his own case and may do to all his subjects whatever he pleases, without the least liberty to any one to question or controle those who execute his pleasure?And in whatsoever he doth, whether led by reason, mistake or passion, must be submitted to? Much better it is in the state of nature wherein men are not bound to submit to the unjust will of another: and if he that judges, judges amiss in his own, or any other case, he is answerable for it to the rest of mankind."

Hobbes agrees that men are poor judges in their own cases. Hobbes agrees that sovereigns make mistakes. Hobbes disagrees that a state of nature is preferable to subjection. In my eyes, and in Locke's, being ruled by one man IS being in a state of nature and a state of war.

Anyone in here read any Thomas Paine? I heard he had a lot of influence on the framers of the constitution.



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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Camacho - are we moving on to section three? Perhaps it was a bit much to get it all done in a month, and I found section three so totally different from the rest, I thought it could even have been written by a different person. I've enjoyed reading the comments, but are we going to continue, or take a break for the time being?


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Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:14 pm
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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
I hate to say it, but I'll be busy for the next couple of months. I don't think I'll be contributing any more to the Hobbes discussion.


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
You've put an incredible amount of thoughts into your posts, Geo, and been really helpful.


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Post Re: Naturall Lawes
Thanks Geo and Heledd! The Hobbes discussion is unofficially over. I hope you'll both finish the book... I hope I finish it!!! hahaha. It's definitely not light reading.



Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:10 am
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Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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