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Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31 
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Post Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
The Second Part:

Of Common-Wealth



Included:

17. Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a Common-wealth.
18. Of the Rights of Soveraignes by Institution.
19. Of severall Kinds of Common-wealth by Institution; and of Succession to the Soveraign Power.
20. Of Dominion Paternall, and Despoticall.
21. Of the Liberty of Subjects.
22. Of Systemes Subject , Politicall and Private.
23. Of the Publique Ministers of Soveraign Power.
24. Of the Nutrition, and Procreation of a Common-wealth.
25. Of Counsell.
26. Of Civill Lawes.
27. Of Crimes, Excuses, and Extenuations.
28. Of Punishments, and Rewards.
29. Of those things that Weaken, or tend to the Dissolution of a Common-wealth.
30. Of the Office of the Soveraign Representative.
31. Of the Kingdome of God by Nature.



Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:32 am
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
From Dr. Smith:

"Chapter 21: what does TH mean by liberty? What space is there for liberty under TH’s leviathan? If the purpose of the state is to ensure peace, can a person be forced to risk their life in defense of the state?"



Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:30 pm
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Hobbes said "By Liberty, is understood, according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of externall impediments," but it seems to be that he is only willing to grant a small amount of liberty, that which the soverign doesn't take for himself (be it a king or and assembly). Of course all societies/governments restrict liberty to some degree but he seems to advocate that the soverign can limit it however he see's fit and we should accept it for our own good, or the good of the commonwealth. I think he leaves very little room were we have liberty to act, and if I read what he is saying right the soverign can limit that liberty at anytime and for any reason.

Here is a question that I am struggling with, when he talks about liberty he goes on to say "that everyman has the right to do anything he liketh". Here is my thought he says we reliquish our rights to the commonwealth, but seems to say that since we had a right to do whatever we liketh we pass on this right to the commonwealth to do whatever it liketh. Where did we get this right to do whatever we like, I am not questioning our ability to do it but a right is something different then an ability. Do we have a right to command others to do what we want, if we had the right to do everything it would certainly seem that we could compel others by force, and if we had that right then according to Hobbes I think he would most definetly believe that a person could be forced to defend the state at the risk of ones life. Hobbes seems to leave no room for a "personal judgement" of right and wrong, and seems to say that if the soverign wills it then one should follow his judgement and suspend his own judgement of right and wrong.



Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:26 am
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
"Do we have a right to command others to do what we want..." There's probably no "we" when we're talking about Hobbes. "We" is democratic law, not monarchic arbitrary power. There is no mutual agreement beyond accepting the decisions of a sole human being.

When I read this book, I have every intention of separating arbitrary power from real liberty - which is the social contract... a contract I've made with my fellow man which stipulates that we'll both live by the rules and protect them. From this I get liberty because I have been elevated beyond the state of nature, beyond a state of war, and have added security to my property/person and added good to my life.

The Monarch that, I think, Hobbes is going to fight on behalf of is an arbitrary ruler. This ruler, because he doesn't abide by any laws or agreements, is an arbitrary ruler, and as Locke has said, lives IN the state of nature. Think about it, if there are no laws that this individual abides by then isn't that individual living in the state of nature? And if Hobbes says the state of nature IS a state of war... isn't being ruled by a king being placed in a state of war?????

The question is: If a Monarch can arbitrarily impose laws, is that monarch in a state of war with the people? This is Locke - not Hobbes here.



Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:45 pm
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
We have the right, according to Hobbes under his State of Nature, to compel any man to do anything. When I have power over a man to make him do something and that man agrees to do it under penalty of death, he has made a covenant. Thus a state of war is made into a perverted agreement he refers to as the basis of his social contract - the commonwealth. Intimidation and Fear make the commonwealth... I think we can see how flimsy his allowance of an "Institution" is.

The Sovereign is all powerful and I have made a covenant with him as everyone else has. I can not harm his subjects without also harming him because all his subjects are his property. You do not have the right to command others beyond the powers vested in you by the sovereign because by commanding his property you'd be usurping power from him and stealing his property; that is impossible.

When it comes to defending the state to your death it becomes tricky. The whole reason you're a subject is to escape death and personal injury. Hobbes beats around the bush when it comes to this. Your only allegiance is really to your own safety and to peace. You almost always have the right to escape and evade personal injury and death.

In war, you have the option to pay someone to take your place but if you are paid to defend the state then you have to defend it. You have the Natural right not to want to die and to do whatever you can to escape bodily harm but if you're a paid soldier then it's an injustice for you not to do as you have been paid to do.

I'm in total agreement with your first paragraph. That's a great summation of his ideas, I think.



Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:28 pm
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Hey everyone!!!

I hope you're all into the Commonwealth by now, or as I like to call it, "Here are your chains!"

I was pretty shocked at how Hobbes goes about showing how the prison system works. He's explaining what my cell looks like, how many meals I get per day, what the warden does, and how pretty my shackles are.

What are the reasons we seek a commonwealth? To Hobbes they are :
1. self preservation,
2. increased happiness/good,
3. and escaping war by ability to keep men to their covenants and his mythical laws of nature - which really are not laws at all but creations of Hobbes' mind.

"Covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure man at all." Hobbes says here that men don't keep their promises unless they are compelled to do so. That without some power to keep them to their word, their words are meaningless. I have to agree with this. What do you guys think?

In the beginning of the commonwealth, Hobbes attacks the disunity and the inability of men to unite in a common purpose for their own preservation and happiness. I don't really understand this, as he even admits that there will always be war. I think Hobbes' ultimate solution to war is to unite the entire world under one sovereign.

He says men need one common power to keep them all in awe. He may be thinking of the individual Greek Poli always at war compared to Rome which annexed many states/entities and thereby ended war within its newly enlarged borders between states which would have normally been at war with each other.


Hobbes Fifth argument in the beginning of chapter 17 concerns bees and ants. Why men can't be like these insects is best stated, in my opinion, in his third argument which is that men want to be in control of their own destiny. But the way Hobbes says it makes it sound pretty disgusting, doesn't it?

"Thirdly, that these creatures, having not (as man) the use of reason, do not see, nor think they see any fault in the administration of their common business: whereas amongst men, there are very many, that thinke themselves wiser, and abler to govern the Publique, better than the rest; and these strive to reforme and innovate, one this way, another that way; and thereby bring it into Distraction and Civill warre."

This is without a doubt one of the most telling paragraphs in the book. Hobbes wants to suppress man's desire to be an equal among men. He doesn't promote mutual compromise through argument, discussion, and debate as conflict resolution. He says that thinking along those lines will cause distraction and civil war. The only government that can secure peace and therefore happiness is a unilateral and awesome power of subjection.

Men cannot agree, cannot reach compromise without war, and therefore you cannot have peace/happiness without being a slave. That's what I get from all this. What did you guys think?

Hobbes wants us to be insects is all I'm saying - though he recognizes it's impossible.

The closest thing to it" "I Authorise and give up my Right of Governing my selfe, to this Man, or to this Assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy Right to him, and Authorise all his Actions in like manner."

This is truly amazing - I think this is exactly what we do here in the United States.



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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
I'm starting to think that the only way to judge a free man is in how much power he has to meet and exceed the power a government has over him. The further away a person is from matching power, the more a person is in a state of war with their government. Why? This whole concept of covenants.



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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
I haven't reached part II yet, but just as a brief response to some of your previous comments, I think Hobbes would argue that our pact with the Commonwealth is not a perfect situation. We give up some of our freedoms to ensure safety and peace which in turn gives us time and freedom to work towards what want, own private property, engage in leisure activities, etc.. In a pure state of nature, we would spend all of our time fighting and scrounging around for food. Maybe living in groups is our naturally evolved state and during hunter-gatherer times, these were relatively small groups. The sheer size of modern day nation-states is taking us well beyond our evolutionary design and probably beyond Hobbes' idea of a commonwealth.


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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
President Camacho wrote:
I'm starting to think that the only way to judge a free man is in how much power he has to meet and exceed the power a government has over him. The further away a person is from matching power, the more a person is in a state of war with their government. Why? This whole concept of covenants.


Certainly wealth gives us a lot of power over others. Hobbes argues that no matter how much wealth or power we have, it's never enough. This was a controversial idea at the time. That we are restless, unsatisfiable creatures, whose quest for power ends only at death. It seems pretty obvious to me that this is true.

The problem with an endless pursuit of wealth is that victory is always at the expense of another. How unChristianlike is that? Hobbes: "Competition of riches, honour, command, or other power, inclineth to contention, enmity, and war; because the way of one competitor, to the attaining of his desire, is to kill, subdue, supplant, or repel the other. Particularly, competition of praise inclineth to a reverence of antiquity. For men contend with the living, not with the dead, to these ascribing more than due, that they may obscure the glory of the other."

On a larger scale, one could argue that America's pursuit of global dominance has to come at the expense of poorer nations. Our wars are now carefully managed competition for and exploitation of natural resources. But what else can we do? It's in our nature to compete and a free market seems the best possible solution to our restless nature. For a government to try to equalize and redistribute wealth is going to have unforeseen consequences, especially cronyism and other systematic abuses—much like our government the way it is now. I almost think that an absolute monarchy might be better than the kind of socialized slavery we seem to be headed for. Our current democratic form of government desperately needs to be reformed.


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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Quote:
The sheer size of modern day nation-states is taking us well beyond our evolutionary design and probably beyond Hobbes' idea of a commonwealth.


That's a great point. I'm curious to see if whether he will talk about the ideal size of a common wealth. Both Aristotle and Plato talk about it so hopefully Hobbes will to as he has read both.

Quote:
I almost think that an absolute monarchy might be better than the kind of socialized slavery we seem to be headed for.


I'll pretend you didn't write that ;)



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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
He builds his argument up from definitions, but the definitions are his own. What exactly does he mean by 'natural laws'? He says that the first natural law is that a person has the right to life, and the right to defend that right. He also says that you must not disobey the sovereign. Yet 'In the making of a Common-wealth, every man giveth away the right of defending another; but not of defending himself.'
So if a monarch or dictator threatens someones life, or means of living, it is possible to disobey. Presumably, if enough people disobey, the monarch loses power. I was thinking that his view of society is very similar to a lot of Islamic societies.


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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Quote:
"that everyman has the right to do anything he liketh". Here is my thought he says we reliquish our rights to the commonwealth, but seems to say that since we had a right to do whatever we liketh we pass on this right to the commonwealth to do whatever it liketh. Where did we get this right to do whatever we like, I am not questioning our ability to do it but a right is something different then an ability.

Good point Dave. He does say 'and where there are no laws there can be no sinne' - but as someone else pointed out (sorry can't find who) man is basically a social animal. I don't think Hobbes has sound reason to belief that life without laws is 'nasty brutish and short.' If man's natural condition is to seek peace, then war is not a natural condition. Oh and I read again what he meant by natural, and he means unwritten. Sorry. It's a job to keep up. He also based his observations on native Americans, - but why he would assume that other societies would observe the same rules I don't know.


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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Quote:
"Covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure man at all." Hobbes says here that men don't keep their promises unless they are compelled to do so. That without some power to keep them to their word, their words are meaningless. I have to agree with this. What do you guys think?


I think religion is also a pretty good threat, with or without swords.


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Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:39 pm
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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Religion has used the sword plenty but has also used the threat of hell. You'll notice that FEAR is big with Hobbes as a motivating factor why people do things. Fear of hell - fear of physical punishment real or imaginary.

Man's natural condition to seek peace? That's a good bit of insight. Why else enter into society? Is that straight from the book or something you thought up on your own? Hobbes says men naturally seek advantage and are naturally led into war with their fellow man. I think what Hobbes is getting at is that in order to have peace, men need to be under an awesome power - a soveraign.



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Post Re: Part 2: Of Common-Wealth 17-31
Hobbes says that through the book '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 summe of the Right of Nature; which is, 'By all means we can, to defend ourselves.' ( from OF THE FIRST AND SECOND NATURALL LAWES, AND OF CONTRACTS)
So it is natural, unwritten law is that man should live in peace. However, if he defends himself, and causes war, that is an unnatural condition.
Actually, on the points that he makes of not rebelling against a sovereign, I can see where he's coming from. The deaths and damage in Iraq and now Syria are far worse than under their respective regimes. But under Hobbes' laws society would never move forward (which sort of undermines his argument about things being in perpetual motion)


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