7. The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law: Aristotle’s Politics, I, III


Professor Steven Smith:
I’ve always been told that any serious introduction to
political philosophy has to start with a big piece of Plato.
We’ve made some effort to do that.
Now, we have to move on. So we move to Plato’s son,
his adopted son, in a manner of speaking,
Aristotle. There’s a story about the life
of Aristotle. It goes something like this.
Aristotle was born. He spent his life thinking and
then he died. There is, obviously,
more to his life than that. But, to some degree,
this captures some of the way in which Aristotle has been
perceived over the centuries. That is to say,
the ultimate philosopher. Aristotle was born in the year
384,15 years after the trial of Socrates.
He was born in the northern part of Greece,
in a city called Stagira, which is part of what is now
called Macedonia. It was called that then.
When he was about your age, when he was 17 or thereabouts,
maybe slightly younger than many of you,
he was sent by his father to do what you are doing.
He was sent by his father to go to college.
He was sent to Athens to study at The Academy,
the first university, spoke about and established by
Plato. Unlike most of you,
Aristotle did not spend four years at the Platonic Academy.
He remained attached to it for the next 20, until the death of
Plato. After the death of Plato,
perhaps because of the choice of successors to The Academy,
Aristotle left Athens, first for Asia Minor and then
to return to his home in Macedonia where he had been
summoned by King Phillip to establish a school for the
children of the Macedonian ruling class.
It was here that Aristotle met and taught Phillip’s son.
Who was Phillip of Macedonia’s son?
Student: Alexander. Professor Steven Smith:
Alexander. You all remember the recent
movie of a year or two ago about Troy with Colin Farrell about
Alexander. Who played Aristotle in that
film, do you remember? Student: Anthony Hopkins.
Professor Steven Smith: Anthony Hopkins,
excellent. Was it Anthony Hopkins?
I have in my notes here it was Christopher Plummer.
I’ll have to check. I’ll have to Google that when I
go home. Maybe you’re right.
I have a feeling it was Anthony Hopkins.
Whoever, he was an excellent Aristotle, didn’t have a large
enough part in the film. In any case,
Aristotle returned to Athens later on and established a
school of his own, a rival to the Platonic Academy
that he called the Lyceum. There is a story that near the
end of his life, Aristotle was himself brought
up on capital charges, as was Socrates,
due to another wave of hostility to philosophy.
But rather unlike Socrates, rather in staying to drink the
hemlock, Aristotle left Athens and was reported to have said he
did not wish to see the Athenians sin against philosophy
for a second time. I’ll go back to that story in a
minute, because I think it’s very revealing about Aristotle.
In any way, this story helps to underscore some important
differences between Plato and Aristotle.
At one level, you might say there is an
important difference in style that you will see almost
immediately. Unlike his intellectual
godfather, Socrates, who wrote nothing but conversed
endlessly, and unlike his own teacher,
Plato, who wrote imitations of those endless Socratic
conversations, Aristotle wrote disciplined and
thematic treatises on virtually every topic,
from biology to ethics to metaphysics to literary
criticism and politics. One can assume safely that
Aristotle would have received tenure in any number of
departments at Yale, whereas Socrates could not have
applied to have been a teaching assistant.
These differences conceal others.
For Plato, it would seem, the study of politics was
always bound up with deeply philosophical and speculative
questions, questions of metaphysics,
questions of the structure of the cosmos.
What is the soul? What is the soul about?
Aristotle appears from the beginning to look more like what
we would think of as a political scientist.
He collected constitutions, 158 of them in all,
from throughout the ancient world.
He was the first to give some kind of conceptual rigor to the
vocabulary of political life. Above all, Aristotle’s works,
like the Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics,
were explicitly intended as works of political instruction,
political education. They seem to be designed less
to recruit philosophers and potential philosophers than to
shape and educate citizens and future statesmen.
His works seem less theoretical in the sense of constructing
abstract models of political life than advice-giving,
in the sense of serving as a sort of civic-minded arbiter of
public disputes. Unlike Socrates,
who famously in his image in Book VII of the Republic,
compared political life to a cave, and unlike the
Apology where Socrates tells his fellow citizens that
their lives, because unexamined,
are not worth living, Aristotle takes seriously the
dignity of the city and showed the way that philosophy might be
useful to citizens and statesmen. Yet, for all of this,
one might say there is still a profound enigma surrounding
Aristotle’s political works. To put it simply,
one could simply ask, what were the politics of
Aristotle’s Politics? What were Aristotle’s own
political beliefs? Aristotle lived at the virtual
cusp of the world of the autonomous city-state of the
Greek polis. Within his own lifetime,
Aristotle would see Athens, Sparta, and the other great
cities of Greece swallowed up by the great Macedonian Empire to
the north. What we think of as the golden
age of Greece was virtually at an end during the lifetime of
Aristotle. Other Greek thinkers of his
time, notably a man named Demosthenes, wrote a series of
speeches called Philippics,
anti-Phillip, to the north to warn his
contemporaries about the dangers posed to Athens from the
imperial ambitions of Macedon. But Phillip’s warnings came too
late. Again, the autonomous Greek
polis that Plato and Glaucon, Adeimantus and others
would have known came to an end. What did Aristotle think of
these changes? What did he think was going on?
He is silent. Aristotle’s extreme reluctance,
his hesitance to speak to the issues of his time,
are perhaps the result of his foreignness to Athens.
He was not an Athenian. Therefore, he lacked the
protection of Athenian citizenship.
At the same time, you might think his reticence,
his reluctance to speak in his own voice may have also been a
response to the fate of Socrates and the politically endangered
situation of philosophy. Yet, for a man as notoriously
secretive and reluctant as Aristotle, his works acquired
over the centuries virtual canonical status.
He became an authority, really one could say the
authority on virtually everything.
For Thomas Aquinas, who wrote in the thirteenth
century, Aristotle was referred to, by Aquinas,
simply as “the philosopher.” There was no reason even to say
his name. He was simply The Philosopher.
For the great Jewish medieval philosopher, Moses Maimonides,
Aristotle was called by him “the Master of those who know.”
Think of that, “the master of those who know.”
For centuries, Aristotle’s authority seemed to
go virtually unchallenged. Are you with me?
Yet, the authority of Aristotle obviously no longer has quite
the power that it once did. The attack began not all that
long ago, really only as late as the seventeenth century.
A man, who we will read later this semester,
named Thomas Hobbes, was one who led the pack,
led the charge. In the forty-sixth chapter of
Leviathan, a chapter we will read later,
Hobbes wrote, “I believe that scarce anything
can be more repugnant to government than much of what
Aristotle has said in his Politics,
nor more ignorantly than a great part of his
Ethics.” Think of that – “nothing more
repugnant to government than what Aristotle wrote in his
Politics.” Naturally, all thinkers,
to some degree, have read Aristotle through
their own lenses. Aquinas read Aristotle as a
defender of monarchy. Dante, in his book,
De Monarchia on monarchy, saw Aristotle as
giving credence to the idea of a universal monarchy under the
leadership of a Christian prince.
But Hobbes saw Aristotle quite differently.
For Hobbes, Aristotle taught the dangerous doctrine of
republican government that was seen to be practiced
particularly during the Cromwellian Period in England,
during the civil war. Aristotle’s doctrine that man
is a political animal, Hobbes believed,
could only result and did result, in fact,
in regicide, the murder of kings.
There are certainly echoes of this reading of Aristotle as a
teacher of participatory republican government in the
later writings of democratic thinkers from Tocqueville to
Hannah Arendt. Anyway, this returns us to the
enigma of Aristotle. Who was this strange and
elusive man whose writings seem to have been enlisted both for
the support of monarchy and for republics,
even for a universal monarchy and a smaller participatory
democratic kind of government? Who was this man and how to
understand his writings? The best place to start is,
of course, with his views stated in the opening pages of
the Politics on the naturalness of the city. His claim that man is,
by nature, the political animal.
That’s his famous claim. What does that mean–we are the
political animal. Aristotle states his reasons
succinctly, maybe too succinctly.
On the third page of the Politics where he remarks
that every city or every polis exists by nature,
and he goes on to infer from this that man is what he calls
the zoon politikon, the political animal,
the polis animal. His reasoning here,
brief as it is, is worth following.
Let me just quote him. “That man” he says “is much
more a political animal than any kind of bee or herd animal is
clear.” Why is it clear?
“For we assert,” he says, “nature does nothing in vain
and man alone among the animals has speech. While other species,” he notes,
“may have voice, may have sounds and be able to
distinguish pleasure and pain, speech”–logos is his
word for it. Man has logos–reason or
speech. The word can mean either.– “is
more than the ability simply to distinguish pleasure and pain.”
He goes on. “But logos,” he writes,
“serves to reveal the advantageous and the harmful.
And hence,” he writes, “the just and the unjust.
For it is peculiar to man as compared to other animals that
he alone has a perception of good and bad,
just and unjust and other things.”
In other words, he seems to be saying that it
is speech or reason, logos,
that is able to both distinguish and create certain
moral categories, certain important moral
categories that we live by–the advantageous,
the harmful, the just and unjust,
and things of this sort that constitute, as he says,
a family and a polis. But that’s Aristotle.
In what sense, we could ask ourselves and I
think you probably will be asking in your sections,
in what sense is the city by nature?
In what sense are we political animals by nature?
Aristotle appears to give two different accounts in the
opening pages of the book that you might pay attention to.
In the literal opening, he gives what looks like a kind
of natural history of the polis.
He seems there to be a kind of anthropologist writing a natural
history. The polis is natural in
the sense that it has grown out of smaller and lesser forms of
human association. First comes the family,
then an association of families in a tribe, then a further
association in a village, and then you might say an
association of villages that create a polis or a city.
The polis is natural in the sense that it is an
outgrowth, the most developed form of human association,
in the way that one used to see in natural history museums,
these kind of biological charts of human development from these
lesser forms of life all the way up to civilization in some way.
That is part of Aristotle’s argument.
But there is a second sense for him and, in some ways,
a more important sense in which he says the polis is by
nature. It is natural.
The city is natural in that it allows human beings to achieve
and perfect what he calls their telos.
That is to say their end, their purpose.
We are political animals, he says, because participation
in the life of the city is necessary for the achievement of
human excellence, for the achievement of our
well-being. A person who is without a city,
he says, who is apolis–without a
city–must either be a beast or a god.
That is to say, below humanity or above it.
Our political nature is our essential characteristic.
Because only by participating in political life do we achieve,
can we acquire the excellences or the virtues,
as he says, that make us what we are, that fulfill our
telos or fulfill our perfection. When Aristotle says that man is
a political animal by nature, he is doing more than simply
asserting just a truism or just some platitude.
In many ways he is advancing a philosophic postulate of great
scope and power, although the full development
of the thesis is only left deeply embedded.
He doesn’t fully develop it in this work or in saying.
He isn’t saying that man is political by nature.
Note that he is not saying, although he is sometimes taken
to be saying this, that he is not saying that
there is some kind of biologically implanted desire or
impulse that we have or share that leads us to engage in
political life. That is to say we do not,
he wants to say, engage in politics.
To say it’s natural for us to do so is not to say we engage in
political life spontaneously and avidly,
as you might say spiders spin webs or ants build anthills.
He is not a kind of socio-biologist of politics,
although he sometimes appears this way when he says that man
is a political animal. In some ways, to the contrary.
He says man is political not because we have some biological
impulse or instinct that drives us to participate in politics,
but, he says, because we are possessed of the
power of speech. It is speech that makes us
political. Speech or reason in many was
far from determining our behavior in some kind of
deterministic biological sense, speech or reason gives us a
kind of freedom, latitude, an area of discretion
in our behavior not available to other species.
It is a reason or speech, not instinct,
that makes us political. But then the question is,
for Aristotle, the question he poses for us
is: What is the connection between logos,
the capacity for speech of rationality, and politics?
How are these two combined? Why does one lead to or entail
the other? In many ways,
he’s not making a causal claim so much.
He’s not saying that it is because we are rational
creatures possessed of the power of speech that causes us to
engage in politics. He has more of an argument of
the kind that this attribute of logos actually entails
political life. He makes his argument,
I think, because logos entails two fundamentally human
attributes. First, the power to know,
you could say. The power to know is our
ability to recognize, by sight, members of the same
polis or city. It is, above all,
speech that in a way, ties us to others of our kind.
That we share not just the capacity for language in the way
a linguist might assert, but that we share a certain
common moral language. It is this sharing of certain
common conceptions of the just and unjust that make a city.
It is the capacity to know and to recognize others who share
this language with us that is the first sense in which
logos entails politics. But reason or logos
entails more than this capacity. It also entails for Aristotle,
interestingly, the power of love.
We love those with whom we are most intimately related and who
are most immediately present and visible to us.
In many ways, Aristotle believes our social
and political nature is not the result of calculation,
as we will see in Hobbes, Locke, and other social
contract theorists, but such things as love,
affection, friendship, and sympathy are the grounds of
political life and are rooted in our logos.
It is speech that allows a sharing in these qualities that
make us fully human. But to say, of course,
that man is political by nature is not just to say that we
become fully human by participating with others in a
city. It means more than this. The form of association that
leads to our perfection is necessarily something
particularistic. The city is always a particular
city. It is always this or that
particular city. The polis,
as Aristotle as well as Plato clearly understand,
is a small society, what could be called today a
closed society. A society that leads to our
perfection that leads us to complete and perfect our
telos must be held together by bonds of trust,
of friendship, of camaraderie. A society based simply on the
mutual calculation of interests could not be a real political
society for Aristotle. We cannot trust all people,
Aristotle seems to say. Trust can only be extended to a
fairly small circle of friends and fellow citizens.
Only a small city, small enough to be governed by
relations of trust, can be political,
in Aristotle’s sense of the term.
The alternative to the city, the empire, can only be ruled
despotically. There can be no relations of
trust in a large, imperial despotism.
It follows, in one sense, that when Aristotle says that
man is by nature a political animal and the city is by
nature, the city can never be a
universal state. It can never be something that
incorporates all of humankind. It can never be a kind of
cosmopolis, a world state or even a league
of states or nations. The universal state will never
allow for or does not allow for the kind of self-perfection that
a small, self-governing polis will have.
The city, as Aristotle understands, will always exist
in a world with other cities or other states,
based on different principles that might be hostile to one’s
own. That is to say not even the
best city on Aristotle’s account can afford to be without a
foreign policy. A good citizen of a democracy
will not be the good citizen of another kind of regime.
Partisanship and loyalty to one’s own way of life are
required by a healthy city. To put the argument in terms
that Polemarchus, from Plato’s Republic
would have known, friend and enemy are natural
and ineradicable categories of political life.
Just as we cannot be friends with all persons,
so the city cannot be friends with all other cities or the
state with all other states. War and the virtues necessary
for war are as natural to the city as are the virtues of
friendship, trust, and camaraderie that are also
necessary. Note that in the opening pages
of the book, Aristotle doesn’t say anything yet about what kind
of city or regime is best. All he tells us is that we are
the polis animal by nature and that to achieve our
ends, it will be necessary to live in a polis.
But what kind of polis? How should it be governed?
By the one, the few, the many, or some combination
of these three categories? At this point we know only the
most general features of what a polis is.
It must be small enough to be governed by a common language of
justice. It is not enough merely to
speak the same words, but in a sense,
citizens must have certain common experiences,
certain common memory and experience that shape a city and
the people. The large polyglot,
multiethnic communities of today would not,
on Aristotle’s account, allow for sufficient mutual
trust and friendship to count as a healthy political community.
So Aristotle seems to be offering, in some respects,
a kind of criticism of the kind of states with which we are most
familiar. Think about that when you have
your sections or when you talk about this text with your
friends. What is Aristotle saying about
us? The citizens of such a city can
only reach their telos or perfection through participating
in the offices, in the ruling offices of a
city. Again, a large cosmopolitan
state may allow each individual the freedom to live as he or she
likes, but this is not freedom as
Aristotle understands it. Freedom only comes through the
exercise of political responsibility,
which means responsibility for and oversight of one’s fellow
citizens and the common good. It follows, for him,
that freedom does not mean living as we like,
but freedom is informed by a certain sense of restraint and
awareness that not all things are permitted,
that the good society will be one that promotes a sense of
moderation, restraint and self-control,
self-governance, as Adeimantus says,
that are inseparable from the experience of freedom. In many ways Aristotle there
offers, as does Plato, a certain kind of critique of
the modern or even the ancient democratic theory of freedom,
which is living as one likes. You can see these opening pages
of the book, dense argument being condensed in very deep
ways, carry a great deal of freight.
There’s a lot in there that needs to be unpacked.
I’ve only tried to do a little of that here with you today,
to go over what Aristotle is suggesting in this idea of man,
the polis animal. Whatever we may think about
this view, whether we like it or don’t like it or whatever your
view might be, you must also confront another
famous, more like infamous, doctrine that is also very much
a part of Book I. I refer to his arguments for
the naturalness of slavery. Aristotle tells us that slavery
is natural. The naturalness of slavery is
said to follow from the belief that inequality,
inequality is the basic rule between human beings.
Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson seem to disagree over the basic
fact of human experience, whether it’s equality or
inequality. If this is true,
Aristotle’s Politics seems to stand condemned as the most
antidemocratic book ever written.
Is that true? Aristotle’s claim about
naturalness seems to require, as he told us,
slavery, the categorical distinction of humanity into
masters and slaves. How to understand that?
Again, Aristotle’s argument is deeply compact and will be
easily misunderstood if you only read it once.
It will just as likely be misunderstood if you read it
three, four, five, or ten times,
if you are not attentive to what he’s saying.
You must learn to read closely. What was Aristotle saying?
In the first place, it’s important that we avoid,
I think, two equally unhelpful ways of responding to this.
The first, which one finds among many modern-day
commentators, many kind of neo-Aristotelians,
we might call them, is to simply avert our eyes
from the harsh, unappealing aspects of
Aristotle’s thought and proceed as if he never actually said or
meant such things. We need to avoid the
temptation, in many ways understandable as it might be,
to airbrush or sanitize Aristotle, to make him seem more
politically correct for modern readers.
Yet, we should also avoid the second, equally powerful
temptation, which is to reject Aristotle out of hand,
because his views do not correspond with our own.
The question is what did Aristotle mean by slavery?
Who or what did he think was the slave by nature?
Until we understand what he meant, we have no reason to
either accept or reject his argument. The first point worth noting
about this, is that Aristotle did not simply assume slavery
was natural, because it was practiced
virtually everywhere in the ancient world.
You will notice that he frames his analysis in the form of a
debate. He says at the outset of his
argument, “There are some,” he says, indicating this is an
opinion held by many people. “There are some who believe
that slavery is natural, because ruling and being ruled
is a pervasive distinction that one sees all societies
practice.” But he says,
“Others believe that the distinction between master and
slave is not natural, but is based on force or
coercion.” Even in Aristotle’s time,
it appears slavery was a controversial institution and
elicited very different kinds of opinions and responses.
Here is one of those moments when Aristotle,
as I indicated earlier, seems most maddeningly
open-minded. He’s willing to entertain
arguments, both for and against the debate.
Aristotle agrees with those who deny that slavery is justified
by war or conquest. Wars, he remarks,
are not always just. So, those who are captured in
war, cannot be assumed to be justly or naturally enslaved.
Similarly, he denies that slavery is always or only
appropriate for non-Greeks. There are no,
he is saying, racial or ethnic
characteristics that distinguish the natural slave from the
natural master. In a stunning admission,
he says–listen to this–that “while nature may intend to
distinguish the free man from the slave,”
he says, “the opposite often results.
Nature often misses the mark,” he says.
Now we seem to be completely confused.
If slavery is natural, and if nature intends to
distinguish the slave from the free, the free from the unfree,
how can nature miss the mark? How can the opposite often
result? I mention this because such
complications should alert the careful reader.
We’re trying to read carefully. What is Aristotle doing in
making this seem so complicated? At the same time,
Aristotle agrees with those who defend the thesis of natural
slavery. His defense seems to run
something like this. Slavery is natural because we
cannot rule ourselves without the restraint of the passions.
Self-rule means self-restraint. Restraint or self-control is
necessary for freedom or self-government.
What is true, he seems to suggest,
about the restraint over one’s passions and desires is true of
restraint and control over others,
just as he appears to be saying there is a kind of hierarchy
within the soul, restraint of the passion.
So does that psychological hierarchy translate itself into
a kind of social hierarchy between different kinds of
people? The natural hierarchy,
then, seems to be a sort of hierarchy of intelligence or at
least a hierarchy of the rational.
“How did this come to be?” Aristotle asks.
How is it that some people came to acquire this capacity for
rational self-control that is necessary for freedom and others
seem to lack it? How did that come to be?
Is this hierarchy, again, a genetic quality?
Is it something we’re born with? Is it something that is
implanted in us by nature in that sense, or is that
distinction something that is created by nurture and
education, what we would call today maybe
socialization? If the latter,
if this hierarchy of intelligence or this hierarchy
of the rational is the result of upbringing,
then how can slavery be defended as natural?
Doesn’t Aristotle call man the rational animal,
the being with logos, suggesting that all human
beings have a desire for knowledge and the desire to
cultivate their minds and live as free persons.
Isn’t there a kind of egalitarianism,
so to speak, built in to the conception of
rational animal and political animal?
He begins his Metaphysics,
his great book the Metaphysics,
with the famous opening statement, “All men have a
desire to know.” If we all have a desire to
know, doesn’t this connote something universal,
that all should be free, that all should participate in
ruling and being ruled as citizens of a city?
Yet, at the same time, Aristotle seems to regard
education as the preserve of the few.
The kind of discipline and self-restraint necessary for an
educated mind appears, for him, to be unequally
divided among human beings. It follows, I think,
that the regime according to nature, that is to say the best
regime, would be what we might think of
as an aristocracy of the educated, an aristocracy of
education and training, an aristocratic republic of
some sort where an educated elite governs for the good of
all. Aristotle’s republic,
and I use that term to remind you of Plato as well,
is devoted to cultivating a high level of citizen virtue
where this means those qualities of mind and heart necessary for
self-government. These qualities,
he believes, are the preserve of the few,
of a minority capable of sharing in the administration of
justice and in the offices of a city. It seems to be a very elite
teaching. Would you agree?
Unappealing to us, perhaps, for that reason,
very contrary to our intuitions and the way we have been brought
up. Yes?
You’ll agree with me. But before we dismiss
Aristotle’s account as insufferably inegalitarian and
elitist, we have to ask a difficult
question, not just of Aristotle, but more importantly of
ourselves. What else is Yale,
but an elite institution intended to educate,
morally and intellectually, potential members of a
leadership class? Think about that.
Can anyone get into Yale? Do we have an open admissions
policy for all who want to come here?
Hardly. Does it not require those
qualities of self-control, discipline, and restraint
necessary to achieve success here?
I will leave aside, for the moment,
what happens on Friday and Saturday nights. Is it any coincidence that
graduates from this university and a handful of others not
unlike it find themselves in high positions of government,
of business, of law, and the academy?
Is it unfair or unreasonable to describe this class,
as Aristotle might, as a natural aristocracy?
I leave you with this question to think about.
Before we reject Aristotle as an antidemocratic elitist,
take a look at yourselves. So are you, or you wouldn’t be
sitting here today. Think about that and I’ll see
you next week.

English Pronunciation: T after R like in PARTY – American English


This is yet another video on the letter T.
I’ve already done a few videos on it, but it’s such a big subject, I can’t quite seem
to get away from it. Today we’re going to talk about this case: party, party. Do you
hear how the T is being pronounced here? Party. If you’ve already seen my video on T pronunciations,
then you know when the letter T or double T comes between two vowel sounds, that it is often
pronounced in everyday speech by native speakers as a D sound. For example, butter, water.
But I got an email from someone recently saying that he’s noticed when the letter T comes
after the R and before a vowel, that in this case too, it is sometimes pronounced as a
D. And I admit, I’ve noticed this myself. Now, I’m not saying that new English speakers
should try to do this. But I am saying I’ve noticed that native speakers to it, so let’s
point it out, let’s talk about it, so you know what’s happening when you hear it. The
R consonant sound. When it is not at the beginning of a syllable, whether by itself or in a cluster,
it sounds just like the ‘ur’ as in ‘her’ vowel. For example, in the word alert, alert. Here
it is the R consonant sound, but it’s just like the ur vowel sound, rr, rr. So when the
R comes after the vowel or diphthong in a syllable, it functions much like the ‘ur’
vowel sound. For example in the word alert, alert alert, there is no change in sound there
from the ‘ur’ as in ‘her’ vowel symbol to the R consonant symbol. Ur, it’s all just
one sound. And this R consonant as a vowel sound occurs any time the R consonant comes
after the vowel or diphthong in a syllable. For example in the word ‘father’, er, er.
It’s that same sound, even in a syllable where there is a distinct, separate vowel sound
before the R consonant. For example, in the word ‘part’. Ah, rr. Part, part, part. It
may be a little quicker here, but it’s that same R consonant as vowel sound. This is why
native speakers might pronounce it as a D when it comes after this sound and before
a vowel sound. It’s that same rule, when it comes between two vowel sounds, even though
it would be written in IPA with the R consonant sound. The R consonant sound in these cases
is just like the ‘ur’ as in ‘her’ vowel sound. Let’s look at some examples. Alerted, alerted.
I’ve alerted the staff. Article, article. I read that article. Charter, charter. They’ll
sign the charter tomorrow. Mortified, mortified. I was mortified. Sorted, sorted. We sorted
it out. Vertical, vertical. Please draw a vertical line. You may find that you hear
this not only within a word, but in a phrase. When a word ends with -rt, and the next word
begins with a vowel. Let’s look at some examples of that. Part of, part of. It’s part of the
problem. Sort of, sort of, it sort of got out of hand. Expert in, expert in. He’s an
expert in pronunciation. Airport on, airport on. I want to get to the airport on time.
As I said, if you’re not comfortable with integrating this into your speech, that’s
ok. But you probably will hear native speakers do it. Part of, part of, part of, part of.
When the T gets changed to a D sound, it does smooth out the line somewhat. Part of, part
of, part of. And linking and smoothing things out is a big part of American English. That’s
it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English

12. The Sovereign State: Hobbes’ Leviathan


Professor Steven Smith:
O.K., today, what a joy.
What a joy! We start Hobbes.
And he is one of the great treats. Thomas Hobbes was the author of
the first and, I believe, undoubtedly the
greatest, work of political theory written in the English
language. He was a master of English
style and prose, and his work ranks among the
very greatest in this or any other language. Leviathan is to prose
what Milton’s Paradise Lost is to epic poetry.
Think about that. Hobbes was in many ways a
perfect foil for Machiavelli. He played the part of Doctor
Watson to Machiavelli’s Sherlock Holmes.
Hobbes, in other words, carried out what Machiavelli
had helped him make possible. Machiavelli,
you remember, claimed to have discovered a
new continent, new modes and orders.
It was Hobbes who helped to make this new continent
habitable. Machiavelli,
you might say, cleared the brush.
He was the Lewis and Clarke or the Columbus.
Hobbes built the houses and institutions.
Hobbes provided us with the definitive language in which
even today we continue to speak about the modern state. However, and this is what I
want to emphasize throughout our reading of Hobbes,
he has always been something of a paradox to his readers.
On the one hand, you will find Hobbes the most
articulate defender of political absolutism.
Hobbes in the Hobbesian doctrine of sovereignty,
or the Hobbesian sovereign, to have a complete monopoly of
power within his given territory.
In fact, the famous frontispiece of the book,
which is reproduced in your edition, although it is not
altogether very clear. It is not a very good
reproduction, the famous frontispiece to the
original 1651 edition of Leviathan depicts the
Leviathan, depicts the state,
the sovereign, holding a sword in one hand and
the scepter in the other, and the various institutions of
the civilian and churchly ecclesiastical authority on each
side. The sovereign holds total power
over all the institutions of civilian and ecclesiastical
life, holding sway over a kind of peaceable kingdom.
Add to this, to the doctrine of indivisible
sovereign power, Hobbes’ insistence that the
sovereign exercise complete control over the churches,
over the university curricula, and over what books and
opinions can be read and taught. He seems to be the perfect
model of absolutism and of absolute government.
You have to consider also the following.
Hobbes insists on the fundamental equality of human
beings, who he says are endowed with certain natural and
inalienable rights. He maintains the state is a
product of a covenant or a compact, a contract of a sort,
between individuals, and that the sovereign owes his
authority to the will or the consent of those he governs,
and finally that the sovereign is authorized only to protect
the interests of the governed by maintaining civil peace and
security. From this point of view,
it would seem that Hobbes helps to establish the language of
what we might think of as the liberal opposition to
absolutism. And this paradox was noted even
in Hobbes’ own time. Was he a defender of royalism
and the power of the king, or was he a defender or an
opponent of royalism? I mean, in many ways,
to be sure, Hobbes was a product of his time,
and what else could he be? But Hobbes lived at a time when
the modern system of European states, even as we understand
them today, was just beginning to emerge.
Three years before the publication of Leviathan,
1651, the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia,
famous peace treaty, brought an end to more than a
century of religious war that had been ignited by the
Protestant Reformation. The Treaty of Westphalia
officially put an end to the 30 Years War, but more than that it
ratified two decisive features that would be given powerful
expression by Hobbes. First, the Treaty declared that
the individual sovereign state would henceforth become the
highest level of authority; you might say,
putting an end once and for all to the universalist claims of
the Holy Roman Empire. Each state was to be sovereign
and to have its own authority. And secondly,
that the head of each state would have the right to
determine the religion of the state,
again thus putting an end to the claims of a single
universalist church. This is what the Treaty of
Westphalia put into practice and, among other things,
what Hobbes attempted to express in theory in his book:
the autonomy and authority of the sovereign and the
sovereign’s power to establish what religious doctrine or what,
even more broadly, what opinions are to be taught
and held within a community, within a state.
Who was Hobbes? Let me say a word about him.
Hobbes was born in 1588, the year that the English naval
forces drove back the invasion of the famous Spanish Armada.
He grew up in the waning years, the last years,
of the Elizabethan era, and he was a boy when
Shakespeare’s most famous plays were first performed.
Hobbes, like many of you, was a gifted student,
and he went to college. His father, who was a local
pastor from the southwest of England, sent him to Oxford,
although he went at the age of 14.
And after he graduated, he entered the service of an
aristocratic family, the Cavandish family,
where he became a private tutor to their son. His first book was a
translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian
War, which he completed in 1629;
Thucydides, the great historian of the Peloponnesian War,
who we mentioned before when we talked about Plato.
Hobbes was a gifted classical scholar.
He spent a considerable amount of time on the European
continent with his young tutee, Mr.
Cavandish. And while he spent time in
Europe, he met Galileo and Rene Descartes.
It was during the 1640s, the period that initiated the
great civil wars in England, and the execution of the king,
Charles I, that Hobbes left England to live in France,
while the fighting went on. He left England with many of
the royal families, the aristocratic families,
who were threatened by the republican armies organized by
Cromwell and that had executed the King.
In fact, the three justices, the three judges,
who were in charge of the judicial trial of Charles I,
King Charles, the one who lost his head,
those three judges later found a home where?
In New Haven. They came to New Haven,
the three judges, Judge Whaley,
Goff, and Dixwell. Does that sound familiar?
Yes. New Haven was in part started
by, founded by, members of the,
you might say, the republican opposition to
royalty and to the English king. And any way,
Hobbes, however, was deeply distressed by the
outbreak of war, and he spent a great deal of
time reflecting on the causes of war and political disorder.
His first treatise, a book called De Cive,
or De Cive, depending on how you pronounce
it, On the Citizen,
was published in 1642, and it was a kind of draft
version of Leviathan that was published almost a decade
later, again in 1651.
Hobbes returned to England the same year of the book’s
publication, and spent most of the rest of his long life,
Leviathan was written well into his 60s.
He was 63 when it was published. He spent the rest of his long
life working on scientific and political problems.
He wrote a history of the English Civil Wars,
called Behemoth, which remains a classic of the
analysis of the causes of social conflict.
And as if this were not enough, near the very end of his life,
he returned to his classical studies translating all of
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
He died in 1679 at the age of 91.
From the various portraits and descriptions of Hobbes,
we can tell he was a man of considerable charm,
and I wish that in the book we had had his picture,
a reproduction of his portrait, on it.
But I just want to read one brief passage from his
biographer, a man named John Aubrey, who knew him.
It was written during Hobbes’ lifetime.
Aubrey wrote about Hobbes: “He had a good eye and that of
hazel color, which was full of life and spirit,
even to the last. When he was earnest in
discourse, these shone, as it were, a bright- as if a
bright live coal within it. He had two kinds of looks.
When he laughed, was witty, in a merry humor,
one could scarce sees his eyes, and by and by,
when he was serious and positive, he opened his eyes
round. He was six foot high and
something better.” So that was very tall in the
seventeenth century. “He was six foot high and very
better. He had read much,
if one considers his long life, but his contemplation was much
more than his reading. He was want to say that if he
had read as much as other men, he should have known no more
than other men.” So his point was he had read a
lot, but what was most important was his thinking.
If he had read as much, he would know as little.
Gives you a little sense of Hobbes’ spirit,
his humor, the wry wit that becomes apparent on almost every
page of this book, but you have to be a careful
reader. Hobbes was deeply
controversial, as you might suspect,
during his lifetime. Leviathan was excoriated
by almost every reader of the text.
To the churchmen, he was a godless atheist.
To the republicans, he was tainted with monarchy,
or monarchism. And to the monarchists,
he was a dangerous skeptic and free thinker.
Hobbes, again, along with Machiavelli,
was one of the great architects of the modern state.
And to some degree, he even seems to speak,
he seems even more characteristically modern than
Machiavelli. I mean, consider just some of
the following. Machiavelli speaks of the
prince, while Hobbes speaks of the sovereign,
that is a kind of impersonal or in Hobbes’ language,
artificial power created out of a contract.
Hobbes’ method seems scientific. It seems formal and analytical
in contrast to Machiavelli’s combination of historical
commentary and reflection drawn from personal experience.
While Hobbes, excuse me, while Machiavelli
often spoke of the sublime cruelty of men like Scipio and
Hannibal, Hobbes speaks the more
pedestrian language, the language of power-politics,
where the goal is not glory and honor, but self-preservation.
And Machiavelli’s emphasis upon arms is considerably attenuated
by Hobbes’ emphasis on laws. Hobbes, in other words,
tried to render acceptable, tried to render palatable,
what Machiavelli had done by providing a more precise and
more legal and institutional framework for the modern state.
So let’s think a little bit about what it was that Hobbes
was attempting to accomplish. Hobbes, like Machiavelli,
was an innovator, and he was self-consciously
aware of his innovations. And like Machiavelli,
who said in the fifteenth chapter of The Prince
that he would be the first to examine the effectual truth of
things, as opposed to the imaginings of
them, Hobbes wrote that civil science, that is what he called
political science, civil science,
was no older than my book De Cive.
Modern political science, he said, began with this book
of 1642. What did he think of as his
novelty? What was new?
What was revolutionary about, or innovative,
about Hobbes’ political science?
Hobbes clearly saw himself, in many respects,
as founding a political science modeled along that of the early
founders of the scientific revolution.
Galileo, I have already indicated that Hobbes had met,
William Harvey, Rene Descartes;
a handful of others who were part of what we think of as the
modern scientific revolutionaries.
And like these other revolutionaries who had
overthrown, you might say, the Aristotelian paradigm in
natural science, Hobbes set out to undermine the
authority of Aristotle in civil science, in political and moral
science. Hobbes set himself up as the
great anti-Aristotle, the great opposition to
Aristotle. Consider just the following
passage from Leviathan with one of my favorite titles
from the book, a chapter called “Of Darkness
from Vain Philosophy and Fabulous Traditions.”
In that chapter, chapter 46, Hobbes writes:
“There is nothing so absurd that the old philosophers have
not some of them maintained. And I believe that scarce
anything could be more absurdly said in natural philosophy than
that which is now called Aristotle’s Metaphysics,
nor more repugnant to government than much that he had
said in his Politics, nor more ignorantly than a
great part of his Ethics.”
So there, you see Hobbes laying down a challenge.
What was it that he claimed to find so absurd,
repugnant and ignorant in Aristotle? Why did he–what did he–what
was he trying to un-throne, dethrone in Aristotle? Hobbes is typically concerned
with the foundations of this new science, getting the building
blocks right from the beginning. The opening chapters of
Leviathan, which I have only assigned a
few, but the opening chapters present a kind of political
physics where human beings are reduced to body and the body is
further reduced to so much matter and motion.
Human beings can be reduced to their movable parts much like a
machine. “What is life?” he asks,
rhetorically in the introduction.
“What is life but a motion of the limbs?
What is the heart but a spring, or reason but a means of
calculating pleasures and pains.”
He sets out to give a deliberately and thoroughly
materialistic and non-teleological physics of
human nature. In fact, a French disciple of
Hobbes in the next century, a man named La Mettrie,
wrote a treatise very much following in the lines of Hobbes
called L’Homme Machine, or literally,
Man a Machine. This is the way Hobbes’ new
science of politics appears to begin, and that new beginning is
intended to offer in many ways a comprehensive alternative to
Aristotle’s physics, or Aristotle’s politics.
Aristotle, remember, argues that all action is
goal-directed, is goal-oriented.
All actions aim at preservation or change, at making something
better or preventing it from becoming worse.
Hobbes believed, on the other hand,
that the overriding human fact, the overriding motivation of
human behavior, is largely negative,
not the desire to do good, but the desire to avoid some
evil. Aristotle, for Hobbes,
had simply seen the world through the wrong end of the
telescope. For Aristotle,
human beings have a goal or a telos,
which is to live a life in community with others for the
sake of human flourishing. But for Hobbes,
we enter into society not in order to fulfill or perfect our
rational nature, but rather to avoid the
greatest evil, namely death or fear of death,
at the hands of others. Politics, for him,
is less a matter of prudential decisions of better and worse,
than it is, you might say, an existential decision of
choosing life or death. For Hobbes, in many ways,
as for Machiavelli, it is the extreme situation of
life and death, of chaos and war,
that come to serve as the norm for politics and political
decision-making, fundamental alternative or
challenge to Aristotle. And furthermore,
Hobbes not only criticized, you might say,
the foundations, the motivational and
psychological foundations, of Aristotle’s theory of
politics and human nature, he blamed the influence of
Aristotle for much of the civil conflict of his age.
Aristotle, who was increasingly being embraced by civic
republicans in England of his time had been brought up,
according to Hobbes, on Aristotle’s teaching that
man is by nature a political animal.
This was, again, the thesis of the classical
republicans according to which we are only fully human,
or we only become fully human, when we are engaged in
political life, in ruling ourselves by laws of
our own making. This was a doctrine that Hobbes
attributes to many of the teaching, much of the teaching
at the universities of his age. And it is precisely this desire
to be self-governing, you might say to rule directly,
to have a direct part in political rule,
that Hobbes saw as one of the great root causes of civil war.
And his answer to Aristotle and to the classical republicans of
his age, was his famous doctrine of what we might call “indirect
government,” or what perhaps would be more
familiar to us by the term “representative government.”
The sovereign is not, for Hobbes, the people or some
faction of the people ruling directly in their collective
capacity. The sovereign is,
for Hobbes, the artificially reconstructed will of the people
in the person of their representative.
The sovereign representative acts, you might say,
like a filter for the wills and passions of the people.
The sovereign is not the direct expression of my will or your
will, but rather an abstraction from my natural desire to rule
myself. In other words,
instead of seeking to participate directly in
political rule, Hobbes wants us to abstain from
politics by agreeing to be ruled by this artificial man,
as he calls it, this artificial person or
representative that he gives the name “the sovereign.”
“For by art”, he says in the introduction,
“For by art is created that great Leviathan called a
commonwealth or a state, which is but an artificial man,
though of greater stature and strength than the natural for
whose protection and defense it was intended.”
The sovereign, he says, or Leviathan,
this great artificial man, the sovereign is something more
like what we would call today an office,
rather than a person, as when we speak of the
executive as an office. And it is simply the person who
inhabits the office, although that might be somewhat
questionable in some of our recent executive decisions.
But for Hobbes, Hobbes creates this office of a
political called the sovereign. Now, his language in that
sentence that I just read from the introduction,
“For by art”, again, “is created that great
Leviathan called a commonwealth or a state.”
When Hobbes uses the term “art” there, “For by art is created,”
that term is deeply revealing of his purpose.
Again, for Aristotle, by contrast,
art presupposes nature. Or in other words,
nature precedes art. Nature supplies the standards,
the materials, the models, for all the later
arts, the city being by nature,
man by nature, nature provides the standard.
Nature precedes art and human artifice or human making.
But for Hobbes, think of this by contrast,
art does not so much imitate nature,
rather art can create a new kind of nature,
an artificial nature, an artificial person,
as it were. Through art,
again, is created the great Leviathan.
Through art properly understood and by “art,” of course,
I mean something like human making,
human ingenuity, human artfulness,
through art we can begin not just to imitate,
but we can transform nature, make it into something of our
own choosing. “Art” here is not to be
understood also as the antithesis of science,
as when we speak of the arts and the sciences.
Rather, science is the highest form of art.
Science is the highest kind of human making.
Science, or what Hobbes simply calls by the name “reason,” is
simply the fullest expression of human artfulness.
“Reason,” he says in chapter 5, “reason is not a sense and
memory born with us, reason is not born with us,
nor gotten by experience only,” he says, “but is attained by
industry, first in the act imposing of
names and secondly, by getting a good and orderly
method.” Think of those terms.
“Reason,” and again, he uses this synonymously with
other terms, like science or art, is not simply born with us.
It is not simply a genetic endowment, nor is it simply the
product of experience, which Hobbes calls by the name
“prudence.” But rather reason,
he says, is attained by industry, by work,
and it is developed first, he says, by the imposing of
names on things, the correct names on things,
and second by getting a good and orderly method of study.
Reason consists in the imposition of a method for the
conquest of nature. By science, Hobbes tells us,
he means the knowledge of consequences,
and especially, he goes on to say,
“when we see how anything comes about, upon what causes and by
what manner, when like causes come into our
power, we can see how to make it produce like effect.”
We can see how to make it produce like effects.
Reason, science, art is the capacity to
transform nature by making it, imposing on it,
a method that will produce like effects after similar
consequences. There is, in other words,
a kind of a radically transformative view of reason
and knowledge and science, political science,
civil science, running throughout Hobbes’
work. Reason is not about simple
observation, but rather, it is about making,
production, or as he says,
“making like consequences produce the desired effects.”
We can have a science of politics, Hobbes believes.
We can have a civil science, because politics is a matter of
human making, of human doing,
of human goings on. We can know the political world.
We can create a science of politics because we make it.
It is something constructed by us.
Hobbes’ goal here, as it were, is to liberate
knowledge, to liberate science from subservience or dependence
upon nature or by chance, by fortuna,
by turning science into a tool for remaking nature to fit our
needs, to impose our needs or satisfy
our needs through our science. Art, and especially the
political art, is a matter of reordering
nature, even human nature, first according to Hobbes,
by resolving it into its most elementary units,
and then by reconstructing it so that it will produce the
desired results, much like a physicist in a
laboratory might. This is Hobbes’ answer to
Machiavelli’s famous call in chapter 25 to master
fortuna, to master chance or luck,
fortune. But you might say,
Hobbes goes further than Machiavelli.
Machiavelli said in that famous chapter 25, that the prince,
if he is lucky, will master fortuna
about half the time, only about 50% of the time.
The rest of human action, the rest of statecraft,
will be really left to chance, luck, contingency,
circumstances. Hobbes believes that armed with
the proper method, with the proper art,
or scientific doctrine, that we might eventually become
the masters and possessors of nature.
And I use that term “masters and possessors of nature,” a
term not of Hobbes’ making, but of Descartes from the sixth
part of the Discourse on Method, because I think it
perfectly expresses Hobbes’ aspirations,
not only to create a science of politics, but to create a kind
of immortal commonwealth, which is based on science and
therefore based on the proper civil science,
and therefore will be impervious to fluctuation,
decay, and war and conflict, which all other previous
societies have experienced. You can begin to see,
in other words, in Hobbes’ brief introduction
to his book, as well as the opening
chapters, you can really see the immensely transformative and
really revolutionary spirit underlying this amazing,
amazing book. So where do we go from here? We turn from methodology and
science to politics. What is Hobbes’ great question?
What was important when reading, starting out with a new
book, asking yourself, what question is the author
trying to answer? What is the question?
And it is not always easy to answer, because sometimes they
do not always make their deepest or most fundamental questions
altogether clear. In the case of
Leviathan, I would suggest to you,
Hobbes’ central question is, what makes authority possible? What is the source of authority?
And you might say, what renders it legitimate?
Maybe the question is, what makes legitimate authority
possible? This is still a huge question
for us when we think about nation building and building new
states, how to create a legitimate authority.
Obviously, there is a tremendous issue with this in
Iraq today. People there and here struggle
with what would constitute a legitimate authority.
Perhaps we should airlift copies of Leviathan to
them, because that is the issue that Hobbes is fundamentally
concerned with. His question goes further.
How can individuals who are biologically autonomous,
who judge and see matters very differently from one another,
who can never be sure whether they trust one another,
how can such individuals accept a common authority?
And, again, that is not just what constitutes authority,
but what makes authority legitimate.
That remains not only the fundamental question for Hobbes,
but for the entire, at least for the entire social
contract tradition that he helped to establish.
You might say, of course the question,
what renders authority legitimate, is only possible,
or is only raised when authority is in question.
That is to say, when the rules governing
authority have broken down in times of crisis,
and that was certainly true in Hobbes’ time,
a time of civil war and crisis. What renders authority
legitimate or respectable? And to answer that question,
Hobbes tells a story. He tells a story about
something he calls “the state of nature,” a term he did not
invent, but with which his name will
always and forever be associated, the idea of the
state of nature. “The state of nature” is not a
gift of grace or a state of grace from which we have fallen,
as in the biblical account of Eden, nor is the state of nature
a political condition, as maintained in some sense by
Aristotle, when he says the polis is by nature.
The state of nature for Hobbes is a condition of conflict and
war. And by a “state of nature” he
means, or by a state of war, he means a condition where
there is no recognized authority in his language to keep us in
awe, no authority to awe us.
Such a condition, a state of war,
may mean a condition of open warfare, but not necessarily.
It can signify battle, but Hobbes says it can also
signify the will to contend, simply the desire or the will
to engage in conflict, renders something like a state
of nature. A state of war can include,
in other words, what we might call a “cold
war,” two hostile sides looking at
each other across a barrier of some type, not clear or not
certain what the other will do. So the state of nature is not
necessarily a condition of actual fighting,
but what he calls a “known disposition to fight.”
If you are known or believed to be willing to fight,
you are in a state of war. It is a condition for Hobbes of
maximum insecurity where in his famous formula “life is
solitary, poor, nasty, brutish,
and short.” Perhaps he should have said
fortunately short. This is the natural condition,
the state of nature, the state of war that Hobbes
attributes to, again, the fundamental fact of
human nature. Now, his claim that the state
of nature is the condition that we are naturally–the state of
war, rather, is a condition that we
are naturally in, is to say, among other things,
that nature does not unite us in peace, in harmony,
in friendship, or in solidarity.
If nature is a norm, it does not,
again, mandate or incline us to peace, friendship and solidarity
with others. Only human art or science or
art, human contrivance, can bring about peace.
Conflict and war are primary. Peace is derivative.
In other words, for Hobbes, authority and
relations of authority do not arise naturally among us,
but are rather, again, like civil science
itself, the product of contrivance or art.
So the question for us remains, which deeply challenged readers
in Hobbes’ own time, what makes Hobbes’ story,
as I am calling it, his story about the state of
nature being a condition of war, what makes it plausible?
What makes it believable as an account of, again,
the condition we are naturally in? Why should we believe Hobbes’
story and not some other story? I just want to say a word about
that before closing. From one point of view,
reading Hobbes, his account of the state of
nature seems to derive from his physics of motion and rest,
in the opening chapters of Leviathan.
He begins the work, you remember,
with an account of human nature, account of human
psychology, as a product of sense and experience.
We are bodies in motion, and who cannot help but obey
the law or the physics of attraction and repulsion.
We are bodies in constant motion.
He seems, in other words, to have a kind of materialistic
psychology in which human behavior exhibits the same,
as it were, mechanical tendencies as billiard balls
that can be understood as obeying,
again, geometric or causal processes of cause and effect.
Right? The state of nature is not seen
by him as an actual historical condition in some ways,
although he occasionally will refer to what we might think of
as anthropological evidence to support his views on the state
of nature. But the state of nature,
for him, is rather a kind of thought experiment after the
manner of experimental science. It is a kind of thought
experiment. It consists of taking human
beings who are members of families, of estates,
of kingdoms, and so on, dissolving these
social relations into their fundamental units,
namely the abstract individuals,
and then imagining, again, in the manner of a
chemist or a physicist, how these basic units would
hypothetically interact with one another,
again almost like the properties of chemical
substances in some ways. How would we behave in this
kind of thought experiment? That would be one way of
reading that Hobbes seems to, wants us to think about the
state of nature as akin to a scientific experiment.
Hobbes is the, again, the great founder of
what we might call, among others,
is the experimental method in social and political science.
And there is a reason, perhaps a reason for this,
too. And I will end just on this
note. When Hobbes was a young man,
he worked as a private secretary for a short time,
a private secretary to another very famous Englishman by the
name of Francis Bacon, the great founder of what we
think of as the experimental method, the method of trial and
error, of experience and experiment,
and arguably Hobbes was influenced in many ways by
Bacon’s own philosophy of experience and experiment.
And Hobbes took Bacon’s method in some ways applying it to
politics, tried to imagine, again, the natural condition of
human beings, and what we are by nature,
by a process of abstraction, and abstracting all of the
relations and properties that we have acquired over history,
through custom, through experience,
stripping those away like the layers of an onion,
and putting us almost, as it were, in an experimental
test tube or under a microscope, seeing how we would under those
conditions react and behave with one another.
I will leave it at that, although I will start next week
by showing how that view of Hobbes is only at best partially
correct. So anyway, have a wonderful
weekend with your parents here, and I will see you next week.