Monday, September 26, 2016
Hobbes: I Like the Stuffed Tiger Better than the Englishman
Reading about Hobbes was very interesting. Parts of his philosophy are fascinating, and I like them. Other parts are horrid; like Plato’s republic, except without even the hope of a philosopher-king. I didn’t know he used the term “artificial life,” and I like that he considered a state to be an artificial man. Naming anything “Leviathan” makes it cooler anyway. I’m glad and impressed that he did not believe in prophetic dreams, witchcraft, or ghosts. That is not something to be taken for granted from somebody who lived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
I dislike his idea of desire and aversion, where something is called good or bad only based on their place in our desires. I believe in objective morality, not defined by the desires of individuals. I also heavily believe in free will, which he disagrees with.
His philosophy of government is very interesting. Everybody is the state of nature is equal, wanting nothing but to stay free while dominating everybody else; warring the whole time. Self-preservation is a big topic. Then people decided to escape this constant warring by subjecting themselves to a central authority, and thereby end their political power. “the citizens lose all right except such as the government may find it expedient to grant.” The idea of such supreme authority over the people, with even their right to rebel being removed, is horrifying to my American self. An unlimited sovereign, with rights of censorship and rights to all property; I'd prefer not to live there.
“Even the worst despotism is better than anarchy.” I’d have to disagree. Anarchy is bad, but designing a system of government where the person(s) in charge are given such ultimate might is a horrible, corrupting idea. Giving the citizen the right of self-preservation against such a ruler would not be much aid, since the idea of rebellion would be thought wrong.