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Hobbes - Leviathan

Of Man

  • By Nature, man has the right to everything.
  • Hobbes makes a distinction between the Right of Nature, and the Law of Nature. (p.189)
  • In a state of ‘Warre’ If one has a Right to everything, then there is no Law that can protect him to and from anything. In the state of ‘Warre’, nothing can be unjust. (p.188) “Among masterless men , there is perpetual war, of every man against his neighbour.” (p.266)
    • Distinction between negative and positive freedom
  • To secure one’s own security, one must cease his right to all things in return for an agreement among other men that would secure his position. If other men will not decide to bear down their right to everything, then an agreement cannot be made. (p.190)
  • To lay down one’s right means to divest one’s liberty to everything, one gains another kind of right that one did not have by Nature., and instead have them by Law.
  • The mutual transfer of eights is what is called contract. (p.192) A pact of a Covenant is an extended contract that guarantees ones adherence to the contract even through a late apse of time.
  • For a covenant to be successfully established Among multiple parties, an overarching power must facilitate their transfer of rights.(p.196) Without power, demands are never demands, but words that “are too weak to bridles mens ambition, avarice, anger, and other Passions, without the fear of some coercive Power”.
  • For Hobbes, there are two types of people; one is called the ‘Natural Person’, the other ‘Artificial Person’; the former considers words and actions that belong to him, whereas the latter represents the words and actions of others.(p.217) One is the person doing the action, while the other impersonates either his actions, or the actions of others.
  • There are Authors of actions who exercise their own Authority, and the authority of others.
    • Here Hobbes makes an exception to those who cannot be personated, and therefore cannot be an authority over their own actions; these include inanimate things; children, fools, and Mad-men; but also slaves—which Hobbes does not mention. Those who do not have authority, have a guardian who is the ‘Artificial Person’ that represents their words and actions.
    • Why slaves are excluded from the authority.
  • For Hobbes, the distinction between those who have authority, and those who do not, is an important one. The ‘Unity’, and ‘One’ consisting of a multitude of many man must those who are authors. (p.229) For it is only of authors that the voice of this Unity can be considered a, authoritative voice of them all. Those who don’t have authority, are excluded from this multitude. This is where subject and object that require guardians, are excluded.
  • There are two types of authors:
    • Those who directly own that of which they are guardians of. It is rather despotic. It is more of Right, than Law and is only short term.
    • The other, are this who own the authority of action based on a covenant which they can exercise any time after. This is long-term, since it is based on the man’s capacity to account for the future.

Common Wealth

Men naturally love dominion over the other.

  • When a multitude
  • The agreement of Bees and Ants is Natural, whereas the Agreement by Covenant is artificial.(Chap. 17, p.226)
    • Unlike bees and ants, some men think to be wiser and and better than the rest and therefore more abler to govern the multitude.
    • Again, the human capacity of language to plant for the future.
  • The reason for erecting a ‘Common Wealth’ is to defend the multitude from the invasion of foreigners.(Chap. 17, p.227) Once the external treat is defeated by a common interests, the interests of the multitude of men’s interests dissolves and falls again into a Warre amongst themselves.(Chap. 17, p.225)
    • Hence where subjugation might fall in.
  • The assembly of multitude under a one Person is what is called the Common Wealth, or the Leviathan.
    • Under this state supposedly, everyone is the author.
    • Their is the Sovereign who has power over the multitude of subjects, with the exception of himself as the sovereign subject.(Chap. 17, p.228)
  • Whitin the Common-Wealth, sovereignty over another can be attained eigther natural way—through birth and other methods of acquisition; or the submission to a common-wealth and derived one’s power through the institution.
  • For Hobbes, submission to an authority is must, if there are certain groups of people who take up Arms in order to resist the rule of the sovereign, such people for Hobbes, are in the act of Warre. (Chap. 18, p.233)
    • Continued stability will require that they also refrain from the sorts of actions that might undermine such a regime. For example, subjects should not dispute the sovereign power and under no circumstances should they rebel. In general, Hobbes aimed to demonstrate the reciprocal relationship between political obedience and peace.1

  • Whether Monarchy of democracy, the rule is the same—a rule of a sovereign. (Chap. 18, p.237)
    • For the sovereign, people are just as the servant are equal under the rule of a master. Even thought they somehow shine more or less individually, in the presence of a master, servants are the same; in the presence of the sovereign, all subjects are equal.(Chap. 18, p.238)
  • For Hobbes, there are three kinds of Common-Wealths: (Chap. 19, p.239)
    1. Monarchy - The rule of one person.
    2. Democracy - Rule by an assembly.
    3. Aristocracy - The rule of an assembly of a part.
  • There can be no other rule, its eighther One, More, or All.
  • A King or a Monarch that was elected and appoints his successor is Hereditary, whether one that passes his power to a newly elected Monarch, is Elective. (Chap. 19, p.246) When a King dies, the Assembly can elect a new representative of the Sovereign. Sovereign who does not pass down his power is an absolute sovereign.
  • The exception of all these three rules is when people are neither governed by an Assembly, nor a Monarch but by an outside force that does not acknowledge their right to participate in government. Such was the case of the land of Judea that was governed by the Roman People. The people of Judea where in this case governed by other people—the Romans.
    • Can be tied with slavery and bondage and how it differs from servitude.
  • This being said, how can dominion over another be justified?
  • Form of acquiring dominion Paternal by Succession and Generation:
    • For Hobbes, both men and women are equal by nature, but the ownership of their child falls into the problem of having more than one master. It is under these circumstance that Civil Law becomes necessary. But the resolution of these laws falls in favour of Fathers because Common-Wealths where erected by fathers and not by the mothers of families. (Chap. 20, p.253)
    • Dominion over the child depends on which parent has more dominion. The parent with most dominion, also gains the right to children’s children. (Chap. 20, p.255) This form of succession for Hobbes, is inline with his description of succession of Monarchy.
  • By Conquest:
    • When dominion occurs, the roles of Master and Slave become established. The person who dominated can now dispose of whom he dominated at his pleasure. (Chap. 20, p.255)
    • But after an Covenant is established, the Slave becomes a Servant
    • Hence the conversion of bondage into servitude. (Chap. 20, p.255)
      • Under bondage - the slave is held in captivity, and can therefore at any point carry away and captivate the one who he was defeated by. It is a submission to the victor.
      • The victor holds the captive in captivity for further deliberation and disposing as the victor wishes. (Chap. 20, p.256)
        • The victor needs a covenant in order to put the servitude of a bondsman under a covenant, otherwise his victory might a fleeting and temporal one.
        • At the state of captivity, one is not subjected or bounded to a covenant and can therefore make escape by any means that he wishes (Chap. 21, p.273)
      • The Slave works under the Victor in order to avoid cruelty, not because he deems that it is his duty to work for his Victor. His motivation is solely to avoid death.
      • Under servitude - the slave becomes a servant who promises to the Master that he wont run away. (Hence the transition in terms from slave to servant; victor to master)
    • It is not the victory that allows dominion over the vanquished, but the Covenant.
    • Hence, it may perhaps be considered that Judea was held in bondage and captivity by the Romans, and not in a state of servitude since it did not submit fully to a Sovereign.
    • Can this be applied to the distinction between colonialism and ?
  • In General, Hobbes believes that Paternal and Despotical dominion are correlated. (Except that Family is not a Common-Wealth proper)
    • When a Nation conquered another nation, its us at a state of ignorance and does not have the right of sovereignty as a state.
    • In family, the paternal dominion gains a form that is somewhat similar to that of the despotical form
      • Man can have dominion over his servants
      • Man (or Father) can have dominion over his servants
      • Man (or Father) can have dominion over his servants and children
  • When a army is losing, it can wither empty a rational decision to continue the fight to death, or to cast does the arms and turn to submission. This logic also applies to peaceful times, this is why Hobbes argues that submission to a sovereign is better than risking one’s life an to constantly exist in a state of Warre. (Chap. 20, p.257) Under submission there is a greater chance that man will overcome his natural state of Warre where there Right to everything, but no Law from anything.
  • Hobbes mentions St. Paul: (Chap. 20, p.259)
    • Servants obey your masters in All things. (Coll.3.20)
    • Children obey your Parents in All things. (Verse. 22)

Chapter 21: Of the Liberty of the Subjects

  • Freedom applies to all creatures, whether animate or inanimate (Chap. 21, p.263) Creature whose Motion is restrain are deemed to be called unfree. Libery applied to anything put bodies, is an abused notion.
  • Necessity is the circumstance in which one applies his liberty due to circumstance. I.e, a ship is sinking and the failure decides to voluntarily apply his liberty and throw out the freight.
  • But since there is the Artificial Man, he creates laws through which artificial chains can be attached.
  • Hobbes stats the ancient writers on liberty until his time, including Romans and Ancient Greeks, where concerned with the liberty of Common-Wealths, not of Particular man. (Chap. 21, p.266) For Hobbes, ‘absolute liberty’ is one with no security, it is a perpetual state of Warre against one another. By no security, means that one cannot be defended by Law. (Doesn’t necessary mean that liberty shouldn’t be embraced by Civil Law, its just that it won’t be ‘absolute liberty’).
    • I.e, Hegelian unopposed consciousness that is free, but never achieves recognition.
  • Common-Wealths on the other hand, can be Liberal by not submitting their power as sovereigns to anyone else, hence the Athenians and the Romans invade whom they pleased.
  • As Aristotle wrote in Politics, In democracy, Liberty is supposed to not be present in any other government.
  • The act of submission is both, and act of Obligation and an act of Liberty.(Chap. 21, p.268) The reason why one abides the sovereignty of a Common-Wealth, is for protection.

Chapter 22: Of Systems Subject, Political, and Private

  • Systems - A number of men with joined interests. Representatives of a whole number are regular while others are irregular. (Chap. 22, p.274)
  • Of the systems there are two types (both subject to the Sovereign Power of the Common-Wealth):
    1. Political
    2. Private
      • Lawful - Those allowed by the Common-Wealth
      • Unlawful - Those that are ‘Evil’
  • The bounds of the power of the Sovereign are determined by two things: (Chap. 22, p.276)
    • Letters from the Sovereign, the Public, Political.
      • The Letters of the Sovereign are owned by all of its members since the Body is the Author of these actions.
      • The Assembly cannot represent any man if it is not warranted by their Letters, which makes them not involved in the Votes. (Chap. 22, p.277)
    • The Law of the Common Wealth, the Private.
      • When one individuals borrows from somebody, he is not represented by the authorities of the Letters.
        • The merchants, I.e the private bodies, are constituted without letters.
      • The private is frequently a protest against the Bodie Politique (the assembly), which can be acceptable, but protests against the Sovereign Power is not acceptable.
      • This seems to tie with the the facts that the private individual has the freedom to acquisition as much as he deems necessary without being obstructed. But as long as he does not challenge the authority. This in itself is a satisfying loophole: one can become a monopoly without necessarily challenging the authority.
      • Hence Cicero mentions in his De Offices:

        Fine establishments and the comforts of life in elegance and abundance also afford pleasure, and the desire to secure it gives rise to the insatiable thirst for wealth. Still, I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.2

        • The merchants are also a perfect example of this since their are the ones who have the advantage over the prices of goods.
  • The Romans did not have assemblies rule over the territories they contested, but by a Presidents and Praetors, who where ultimately governed by Rome.
  • English colonies that owned the plants of Virginia, where committed to the Assemblies in London, but not to the Assemblies in America. The planation owner in America where the ones who possed the private property Hence the prerequisite for American Independence and the establishment of its own Covenant and Common-Wealth. (Chap. 22, p.280)
  • When an Assembly accuses one of their members of treason, he an impose a Mulct on that person, but those who appertain to the colonies do not have such a capacity.
    • The colony in this case is just as a slave in bondage in some ways.
  • Here, Hobbes goes into the activities of the Merchants and describes their hegemony over the prices of goods as Monopoly. Since it is the merchant who decided the price of commodities, ‘handy-works of people’ (their labor) and therefore is an ‘ill to the people’. The merchants have an advantage offsetting the dearest price of their goods.
  • The Bodies of Merchants for Hobbes, is not a to the common benefit of the Body, the Assembly since these sources are geared towards the merchants’ private ventures of building, buying, and manning of their vessels that they use for trading goods. (Chap. 22, pp.282-3)
    • Hobbes perhaps sets a tone in what Marx would laters describe s the capitalist class thing over oligarchy and introducing the capitalist mode of production.
    • This is why the Common-Wealth deems necessary to impose tax on the ‘Bodies of Merchants’.
  • Private Bodies, consisting of family, in which the Father or the Master does are exempt from the Letters, and has therefore control over his private sphere.
  • Hobbes mentions ‘Factions’ and ‘Conspiracies’ that might arise in a ruling body, these cannot occure within a Common-Wealth since it might spill into a state of Warre. These developments are dangerous to the public and must be avoided. Whereas two Common-Wealths can establish Leagues and what not to allow all sides to profit for as long as the agreement lasts. (Chap. 22, pp.286)
    • When private men gains more servants than the government of his estate, he developed a Faction, which is unlawful because it will essentially make the Feuds. In order to have protection form the Common-Wealth, one must not amass his own force. If one does so, one will take the sword out the hands of the Sovereign. (Chap. 22, pp.287)
    • This, I think, can be viewed as an argument against capitalist Monopoly Power (not necessary against private capital per se), even Hobbes knew this back then. He is basically the father of Classic Conservatism.
  1. SEP, Hobbes’s Moral and Political Philosophy 

  2. Cicero, De Officiis, I.25