Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, September 23, 2016

Quiz Sep 26/27

Machiavelli & Hobbes, HP 504-511, 546-557; PW 12, 14

1. What animals does Machiavelli say a successful ruler must emulate?

2. What does "success" mean for a ruler, according to Machiavelli? What appearance must he present?

3. What was Hobbes' position on free will?

4. What's the difference between religion and superstition, for Hobbes?

5. What does Hobbes call "nasty, brutish, and short"? 

6. How is Hobbes superior to earlier political theorists, in Russell's opinion?
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7. By virtue of what does walking convey energy?

8. Why did the Huichol people of Mexico think we have to walk?

DQ

  • Do you agree with Russell that Machiavelli's lack of "humbug" was admirable, and that many of his critics are hypocrites? 
  • What do you consider the attributes of admirable politicians? Should we expect and encourage them to be dishonest, when it serves ends we agree with?
  • Does Hobbes' political theory deserve our careful consideration?
  • Are you a determinist? Why or why not?
  • Is the difference between Hobbes and John Locke reflected in the way different nations are governed today? 551
  • Do you agree with Hobbes' reason for supporting the Leviathan State? 556
  • Will we ever overcome "international anarchy"? 557
  • Does walking make you tired or give you energy?
Old post-
1. Machiavelli's key idea was that a politician ("prince") needs to have what quality? 

2. Does Nigel think the adjective "machiavellian" correctly implies that the politicians it describes are simply evil or self-serving? 

3. What did Machiavelli think a successful ruler needs to know about human nature?

4. Life in a state of nature would be _______, poor, nasty, brutish, and _____.

5. What was Hobbes' metaphorical image of the civilized state he thought people were driven by fear to prefer to a state of nature?

6. Hobbes was a _______, convinced that all aspects of existence including thinking are ______ activities.


BONUS: Name the English philosopher I frequently mention who supported and practiced civil disobedience.




DQ:

1. What qualities do you value in politicians? Do you always vote according to party allegiance, or for the "best" candidate regardless of party?

2. Do you think our current leaders (in all branches of government) are "machiavellian"? How so? Do you approve or disapprove of their quality of leadership?

3. Who do you think have been our best leaders? Why? Were they also the most successful politicians? If not, why not? Who are the best leaders in the world today, in your judgment? Why? Do they seem to share Machiavelli's opinion of human nature?

4. What would happen if the state and its authoritative institutions disappeared? Would life be good?

5. Is safety more important than freedom? How does this question play out in our current politics, regarding (for instance) gun rights and violence in America, or privacy versus national security?

6. If materialism (physicalism) is true, do people still have the ability to make responsible decisions and choices?

7. Have you ever engaged in an act of deliberate law-breaking, in order to challenge what you considered an unjust law? Are there circumstances in which you would do so? Would you risk arrest on behalf of social justice, climate change, or anything else?


8.Would life in a state of nature be as bad as Hobbes thought? In your experience, are most people naturally distrustful, hostile, aggressive, and vicious? Or are we "noble savages," made less so by civilization and its institutions?

9. Is the threat of insecurity and fear of violent death great enough for most people to override their desire for personal freedom? Is safety more important to you than liberty? Does it bother you that the government may be monitoring your calls, emails, etc.?

10. If you agree with Hobbes that humans left to themselves would revert to base, aggressive, instinctive behavior, do you also agree that the only corrective for this condition is an all-powerful and authoritative central state? Can individuals change, and become more kind and compassionate? Or is this beyond our programming?

11. Is it possible to know that human nature is inherently good or bad? Or must we treat one another as individuals, and not exemplars of a universal nature?
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An old post-

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Machiavelli & civil disobedience

But first a word about what really matters: health. Though I complain often enough of the sorts of aches and pains common to members of my (Eisenhower-era) demographic, I'm rarely bedridden with illness. So, when I'm driven to my sickbed for an entire night and day and night, as I was between Saturday and Monday, it's a bit of a shock and (in retrospect) a welcome reminder. "Keep your health," William James wrote to his English pragmatist friend Schiller, "it's better than all the truths in the firmament." All else is bonus. I'm running on fumes and yesterday afternoon's half-bowl of chicken noodle soup so far today, but I'm up and running. That really does matter, way more to me today than Machiavelli ever did. But I'll try to fake it.

Mistrust, suspicion, refusal to really listen to others: these are symptomatic features of the world as Machiavelli (and Hobbes, coming next) knew it, a world full of testimonial injustice. Not to mention intrigue, plot, war, and violence. The more things change...


Niccolo Machiavelli praised virtu’ in a leader: manliness and valor are euphemistic translations, ruthless efficiency might be more to the point. The intended implication of "manly" is not so much machismo as hu-manity, with a twist. Machiavelli's manly prince judiciously wields and conceals the guile of the fox and the brutality of the lion, all the while brandishing an image of kindhearted wisdom. A wise prince, he said, does whatever it takes to serve the public interest as he sees it. But does he see it aright? Hard to tell, if you can’t believe a word he says. But Skinner and others think he's gotten a bad name unfairly. (See videos below.)
A new detective mystery starring Nicco has recently been published, btw, and was featured on NPR. “What would happen if two of the biggest names of the Renaissance — Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci — teamed up as a crime-fighting duo?” Beats me, may have to read The Malice of Fortune. One of our groups, I think, is doing a midterm report on Superheroes & Villains. Room for one more?

I'm a bit puzzled by the sentimental fondness some seem to feel for "machiavellian" politicians. Haven't we had enough of those? Wouldn't we rather be led by Ciceronians and Senecans and Roosevelts, evincing qualities of compassion and (relative) transparency? Don't we wish them to affirm and work for the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor's great post-White House achievememt?

But, Bertie Russell agrees that Machiavelli has been ill-served by invidious judgments that assimilate him to our time's conventions and accordingly find him objectionable, instead of appreciating his fitness to live and serve in his own day. Russell praises his lack of "humbug." Give the devil his due.

“I never say what I believe and I never believe what I say,” declared Machiavelli. “If I sometimes say the truth, I conceal it among lies”... more»




'The Prince' and 'Why Machiavelli Still Matters ...
The political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” as a manual on leadership and governing during the late Italian Renaissance, ...

In Tuscany, Following the Rise and Fall of Machiavelli
Five centuries after “The Prince” was written, visiting spots in and around Florence that track the arc of Machiavelli's life.

Arthur Herman makes the case for assigning Machiavelli to Team Aristotle... Inside the Mind of Machiavelli (Salon)

Looking for a firm modern presidential declaration of anti-Machiavellian sentiment? Jimmy Carter said: "A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity."

We're talking civil disobedience too, today. Again Nigel slights the Yanks, in not mentioningThoreau. “If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.” And,
Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?
So, here's my Discussion Question today: Have you ever engaged in an act of deliberate law-breaking, in order to challenge what you considered an unjust law? Are there circumstances in which you would do so? Would you risk arrest on behalf of social justice, climate change, or anything else? Will you at least support those who do? Are you a compliantist, a gradualist, or a transgressive reformer?

Russell, incidentally, himself a civil disobedient in the great tradition of Socrates, Gandhi, King, et al - ("On April 15 1961, at the age of 89, Bertrand Russell gave a speech calling for non-violent civil disobedience in his campaign for British unilateralism, i.e. to get Britain to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons and membership in NATO") - gives Thoreau only passing attention as an American representative of the romantic movement of the 19th century.

75 comments:

  1. (H3) Although this is not a common character trait of our politicians, I believe that honesty is the most important attribute they should possess. They should not be dishonest even if it would benefit something I agree with.

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    1. I agree with you, but I would argue that the current world of politics is 100% inhospitable to 100% honesty. There, that's my depressing thought for the day.

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    2. (H3) In response to Ben's post, its only slightly depressing. As long as you have come to terms with the fact that politics is really who is better at lying or who has the best angle than you are not having the wool pulled over your eyes. It's similar to learning wrestling is rigged :)

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    3. Yes, you will be aware of the dishonesty, but it's still there. There is dishonesty, but how do we discern what is honest and what is dishonest.

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    4. Sadly, dishonestly will always be present in our politics. People who want power always use it to manipulate those they want power over to seeing their side of things and to agreeing with them.

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    5. Samantha Eisenberg (H3)12:37 PM CDT

      I feel like some sort of dishonesty in government is neccesary. Not near as much as there is, but I think some stuff is kept secretive for our protection. If they government told us of every terrorist attack attempt or breach of security at our expense, it wouldn't do good because of the mass panic it would create.

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  2. (H3) Hobbes political theory is certainly a theory to take into consideration and to ponder if it would be beneficial to our society. I do not support it but it is worth taking into consideration.

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    1. I certainly do not support it, but like you, I was impressed with some of his arguments. Although they did not convince me, they gave me something to consider.

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    2. H1
      Ditto. I disliked the majority of his ideas, but I loved the way he viewed the commonwealth as an artificial creature, a massive organism. However, I'd prefer to live in a democracy, where my vote can do something, rather than live as a tiny obedient cell in a Leviathan.

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  3. (H3) I'm unsure if I would label myself a determinist but I would say that events like our choices do have sufficient causes behind them.

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    1. (H3) What do you mean by 'sufficient causes'?

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  4. (H3) The different views of Locke and Hobbes may not blatantly be reflected today but I think governments in many countries are aware of their political viewpoints and take them into consideration. These two men had huge political impacts.

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    1. H1
      I agree: these huge political impacts of the philosophers is also reflected in opposite reactions to them. They have helped present day politicians shape what they believe and don't believe.

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  5. (H3) I doubt that international anarchy will every be overcome but I believe that one government at a time that anarchy can change.

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  6. (H3) After I am done walking I feel revitalized both mentally and physically.

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    1. H1
      I agree; after working from 6am to lunchtime, I walk to campus for my classes. This walk helps me reset my mind, and my body can unwind from the tensions of work, and prepare for the sitting in class.

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  7. (H3) I wouldn't necessarily claim to be a determinist, but while I don't have a direct source, our actions and choices always have reasoning behind them.

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  8. (H3) Physically, I always feel revitalized after walking outside. Mentally or emotionally, however, unless I am productive in thought or inspiration I don't feel revialized.

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  9. (H3) Admirable politics? I believe an admirable politician and an admirable human being are the same thing. We cannot expect politicians to always meet those standards but unfortunately politicians are people too and believe it or not they do make mistakes.

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  10. Hobbs theory? (H3) I think it does, whether it is valid or not it is thought provoking and does cause you to question the true purpose of government.

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  11. (h3) Determinist? niet, neign, iie, no I believe that somethings are decided by God, that many things are indirectly decided by men, but most are just random chance.

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    1. H1
      I also agree that God decides things, we decide things, and that accidents do happen. It may be my choice to grab cookie dough from the fridge, but in doing so I may knock over a jar. I think that's an accident, not something determined by God or fate, although I do think that God and people can use accidents for good.

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    2. I agree with you, Bryce, on all but one point because i am not a Christian. I believe that past causes effect what we do today to some extent but they are not decided by a God or deity.

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  12. (H3) H/L? I would think so. You could say that in both cases we have social contracts and we either have oppressive regimes or we have liberal regimes.

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  13. (H3) Energy? I find it can be physically draining but emotionally and psychologically replenishing.

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  14. I agree with Hobbes' reasoning that the state is all that divides order from anarchism, but I am at a loss when it comes to deciding that it necessitates an unchecked sovereign! Many states have proven the middle ground to be a viable path. To use a cliche, "Wow Hobbes, that escalated quickly!"

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    1. (H3) You also have to remember that Hobbs came around at the beginning of the Nation State and we might be facing the end. I think we live in a world where, the new global order will demand states to surrender more of their individual sovereignty to large bodies for security purposes. Hobbs has his good points and I do admire him but he didn't get it all right.

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  15. If there existed a determinism scale of sorts, I would rank myself closer to the positive end. We have choices, but I don't know if any choice or choice making process exists that is not a result of previous occurrences to some degree, no matter how small it may be.

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    1. Yes, while our choices do rely on what has happened previously, they are not wholly bound to them and we can set those preoccurances aside to make iur own choices.

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    2. Yes, while our choices do rely on what has happened previously, they are not wholly bound to them and we can set those preoccurances aside to make iur own choices.

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  16. Will international anarchy ever cease to exist? I find it doubtful. Even if a one world government were instituted, the people would not forget their distinct cultural heritages, and would discriminate on that basis. Perhaps the anarchy would merely take to the shadows, and thrive there.

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    1. H1
      I agree; even if a philosopher arrived at a perfect system, the presence of flawed, foolish, and inconsistent humans would spoil it.

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  17. A walk with no destination always reinvigorates me. Remaining static for extended periods of time is what I find exhausting.

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    1. What about a walk with a destination? Is that just as invogorating or is it tiring?

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  18. In reply to Megan's above comment I did say Hobbes' arguments made me think, but to clarify, I should point out that I do not think his ideology should ever be seriously considered today; namely because it is unrealistic and therefore unworthy of serious consideration. When it comes to things like politics, let's not waste time on things we know won't work.

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  19. (H3) On one hand walking makes you tired because you were using energy to move your legs and arms and cellular respiration. However, studies have shown that when you're exercising you release endorphins which make you feel happy and more energized. I guess it depends on how you want to look at walking. Glass half empty or half full.

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    1. H1
      I think the results of walking, getting tired or re-energized, depend on the environment as well. I think the results of the walk can also be both things: I usually walk to campus, which takes roughly thirty minutes. I enjoy the walk, but on hot days I'm very glad to arrive at air-conditioning. However, I still love the walk; it's mind clearing and satisfying.

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  20. (H3) I consider honesty and thoughtfulness attributes admirable in politicians. Politicians are constantly under pressure from lobbyists and other politicians to make certain decisions and sway certain ways. It's up to them to hold fast to their morals and values and refrain from succumbing to bribes and manipulation. Politicians tackle hot - topics that have a great bearing on the community they are influencing. They need to be able to make informed decisions, accounting for every ramification and consequence.

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  21. (H3) I don't think there's ever a time to expect or encourage politicians to be dishonest, even when it serves our own means. In doing so we would be encouraging behavior unbecoming of a leader in our community. If politicians are doing their jobs correctly they should be taking into account all criteria regarding the issue they are deciding upon. This means that a decision they make that we, as individuals, may not prefer may be what's best for the majority, it's about the bigger picture.

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    1. H1
      I agree; when people expect things of a person, that person usually responds to the expectations. For example, classes with an engaged teacher who expects the class to be attentive and refrain from phones etc, and a teacher who expects his class to be bored and distracted, texting and on their computers, both usually receive the response they expected. I think the same can go for politicians. Expecting them to behave in certain ways actually influences their behavior towards that end.

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    2. "this means that a decision they make that we, as individuals, may not prefer may be what's best for the majority, it's about the bigger picture" What would then happen if a politician who was honest and wanted what was best for the majority could not get elected because his belief in an issue (though best for the majority) did not align with the beliefs of the majority?

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    3. I completely agree. In ruling and governing, there is no place for dishonesty. Dishonestly once found out can create dissent and chaos. One need to be honest with those that they are governing and do what is best for the whole.

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  22. (H3) I am not a pure determinist. I don't think we are predestined or fated to do certain things in our lives. I think that our choices have a ripple effect and influence other decisions, both ours and other people's choices. However, I do not think that somewhere on a "cosmic timeline" one particular person is meant to do something at a certain time in a certain place.

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  23. (H3) Do you think the practice of taking drugs, in the case of the Huichol people, peyote, taints the spiritual experience? The purity of walking?

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    1. H1
      I think the practice of taking drugs to experience spirituality is cheapening; I don't think of getting high as anything more special than getting drunk or getting really hyper off of sugar. Manipulating the human body's reaction to certain chemicals doesn't constitute spirituality to my mind.

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    2. When i think of this, i have to think of perspectives. Yes, having a clear mind and body when walking will give out one experience, but the taking of drugs provides a whole new experience in which we have not had before.

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  24. (H3) In chapter 14, many pilgrimages are discussed. Which pilgrimage do you think had the most appreciation for the art of walking? Why?

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    1. Samantha Eisenberg (H3)12:47 PM CDT

      It wasn't one discussed in the chapter, when reading however, the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon came to mind. This w was a sorry about someone who let her life fall to shambles and decided to get in touch with herself through a strenuous and long hike.

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  25. When i walk, sometimes it makes me tired and sometimes it gives me energy. When walking to get somewhere or in an urban area, it tends to make me more tired than anything else. When walking for the sake of walking in a natural environment, it tends to give ne energy.

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  26. I am definitely not a determinist. I have a full bief in free will and that not everything is already determined. In my mind, there is no predestination. There of course is always cause and effect but it is free will in which we choose the cause, not something predetermined.

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  27. I would say, in the past, that walking would make me tired. Especially in high school, there was always something to get done. It would be frustrating to have to take time away from work to just walk around. Now, it gives a relief and a new energy from a separation from a fast paced lifestyle.

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    1. Samantha Eisenberg (H3)12:52 PM CDT

      I feel that reflects the effect of walking while under time constraints. High school is a straight 8 hour day. College has more breaks between days and classes. Which allows us to enjoy our free time more.

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  28. I agree with Hobbes that humans left to themselves would revert to base, aggressive, instinctive behavior; however, I don't agree that the only corrective for this condition is an all-powerful and authoritative central state. Humans without society or government resort to strict self-interest out of human nature. Society and government exist to provide security in exchange for giving up some rights to the government. This however does to mean that the government needs to be all powerful. There needs to be a balance between security and rights.

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  29. I feel rejuvenated after a long walk in nature. I may feel physically tired, but my body feels revitalized and my mind feels refreshed. This mix of emotions makes me feel wonderfully both tired and energized after a long walk in nature. (H3).

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  30. I personally admire politicians that have true passion for what they do. Ones that don't simply say what people want to hear but what they believe to be true and correct. They don't try to be divisive and manipulative but rather unifying. They don't lie. (H3)

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  31. I am not exactly a determinist. I believe strongly in free will. I believe that God gave humans the knowledge and the ability to make our own decisions. I do believe that He can control anything and at times He does control certain circumstances. I however do not believe that every single circumstance is controlled by God. I believe the world is in motion, we have free will, and some things just happen. If I got cancer, I wouldn't assume that God gave me cancer. I would just think that cancer is a thing that happens, I have it, and God can use this for something good if I let Him. (H3)

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  32. Safety is no more important than freedom. I think they are of equal importance. The balance between the two are the whole reason why government exists. Citizens give up some personal freedom in exchange for the safety secured by the government. When a population gives up too many freedoms in exchange for security, the population them becomes at risk of oppression from their government, making them not in the least bit secure in reality. The balance is necessary to have both security, freedom, and a healthy government. (H3)

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  33. Christian Brooks (H3)12:29 PM CDT

    I think that with democracy we should expect that our votes are only getting our choice into office, and the decisions we hope they make may or may not come into office with them. Should this deter us from voting? No, but I think that by keeping the idea in mind, we have a greater responsibility to measure up to when casting our votes.

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  34. Christian Brooks (H3)12:33 PM CDT

    For those who gain energy from walking, I implore you to make good use of it. Going for a walk does not drain my energy, but I certainly do not feel revigorated afterwards. Assuming I was in better shape this may be different, but that would be a philosophical discussion all its own.

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  35. Why was the revenue of the papacy probably larger than it would have been if Alexander VI and Julius II had been more virtuous?

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  36. What do we concede to Machiavelli as an important element in the growing power of Christianity during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries?

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  37. The word “liberty” is used throughout as denoting something precious, though what it denotes is not very what?

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  38. The discussion of the papal powers in the Discourses and more what?

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  39. The political opinions expressed in the Leviathan were held by who for a long time?

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  40. The political opinions expressed in the Leviathan which were what in the extreme?

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  41. The succession of our thoughts is not arbitrary, but what?

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  42. What does Hobbes consider the one genuine science so far created?

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  43. All error in general propositions comes from what?

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  44. Belief that dreams are prophetic is a what?

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  45. It is admitted that the sovereign may be despotic, but even worst despotism is better than what?

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  46. To improve the fighting quality of separate States without having any means of preventing war is the road to what?

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  47. (H1) What do you consider the attributes of admirable politicians? Should we expect and encourage them to be dishonest, when it serves ends we agree with?

    A politician should have unwavering convictions that they are willing to fight for. While honest politicians are preferred, some duplicity may be necessary to get the job done.

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  48. (H1) Are you a determinist? Why or why not?

    While humans have been compared to computers time and time again, nothing more than circuits and connections, I like to believe that we have some aspect of free will, that not everything we do or say or think is determined by some outside force. What differentiates us from computers is that we can choose for ourselves and that we can make risky decisions and feel.

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  49. (H1) Does walking make you tired or give you energy?

    While physically I'm not in the best shape so any form of exercise can make me a tad tired, I certainly feel more energy when it comes to thought when I'm walking, as that's typically all I'm left with when walking aimlessly or from one place to another - my thoughts.

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  50. DQ: Do you agree with Russell that Machiavelli's lack of "humbug" was admirable, and that many of his critics are hypocrites?
    Answer: I think in a way we're all hypocrites. I was talking about this in another class- as a society we claim to be fair, yet we are so judgmental

    DQ: What do you consider the attributes of admirable politicians?
    Answer: Honesty. HOWEVER, I do acknowledge that an honest politician would not last, though that doesn't make it right.

    DQ: Should we expect and encourage them to be dishonest, when it serves ends we agree with?
    Answer: Should we? No. Do we? Yes, all the time.

    DQ: How do you define Free Will, and how do you feel about prophecies?
    Answer: As I answered in my weekly essay, I don't define Free Will one way or another. I acknowledge all of its attributes.

    DQ: Are you a determinist? Why or why not?
    Answer: I don't see myself as just anything. I have a mix of beliefs that come from many different areas.

    DQ: Is the difference between Hobbes and John Locke reflected in
    the way different nations are governed today? 551
    Answer: Yes, they are

    DQ: Do you agree with Hobbes' reason for supporting the Leviathan State? 556
    Answer: No, I do not support the Leviathan State.

    DQ: Will we ever overcome "international anarchy"? 557
    Answer:

    DQ: Does walking make you tired or give you energy?
    Answer:

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