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Leviathan Analysis

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Thomas Hobbes sees the world as a materialistic entity because he believes that the world is a plenum, which means that the entire universe comprises of bodies and is not a vacuum or space. Hobbes explains that any action or occurrence on earth comes about because of the movement of present bodies. Hobbes’ view is surprisingly long: indicating that the nature of human beings, including emotional, mental and physical faculties, is because of physical movements. An individual’s type and quality of passion explain his or her condition on earth:  a dull person has a weak passion, several passions in giddiness, and disproportionate or overabundance, passion is madness (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

Hobbes uses a common justification in his discussion on the proper commonwealth functions. For example, he explains that people prefer private counsel to assembly counsel because they are necessary stepping stones used to retain absolute sovereign power. The absence of absolute sovereign power weakens the commonwealth, and the subject might be at a risk of devolving into a civil war. Rather than philosophical, the major fundamental reason for Leviathan is psychological: human beings are naturally fallible, and the more individuals are involved in the process of making decisions, the more they compound this fallibility. This can be related to the variation that states that too many cooks spoil the meal. In other words, Hobbes explains that the nature of human beings as it exist results in the need for the absolute sovereign power.  Rousseau criticized Hobbes’ explanation arguing that the nature of human beings is not static: it can change over a period. Regarding this argument, if a man progresses and becomes well disposed towards other individuals, absolute monarchy cannot be considered the best type of government. However, Hobbes replies to critique and states that it will be attributing an individual a social character because men exist in a pre-social order (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

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While Hobbes pondered much about the relationship between various subjects and between sovereign and subject, there is very little in Leviathan based on relationships between commonwealths. Hobbes suggestion that a subject is not justified, when he is not in the commonwealth, reflects that the relationships of inter-state are also chaotic and war-like. Hobbes explain that since there is no injustice or justice, wrong or right, in the natural state between human beings, a state of perpetual and war must prevail between states. However, if a social contract does not exist between commonwealths, there would be no too much of international laws. Even if treaties were to be present amongst the commonwealths and lack of a global organization with the power to push the transgressors, the agreement will lack validity (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

Hobbes argued against Aristotle’s scholastic philosophy throughout the levitation. According to essentialism philosophy of Aristotle, objects that are outside the world have a particular essence, which gives them the human experienced quality via their senses. For instance, when an individual looks at a red apple, his sense transmits the natural redness of the apple. As a result, there are some objective meanings or essences experienced by human beings. Contrary to this, Hobbes argument is that me’s sensory experience is objective. Hobbes explains that speaking of any form of essence such as the color of an apple in the absence of the apple is absurd: since human beings experience that which they sense. When a person sees an apple, he is not to ethereal redness, but rather just sees a red color. Following from this, Hobbes indicates that an individual external body’s subjective experience gives an object some meaning unlike the natural essence in an object (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

Hobbes’ truth and speech discussion is in stark contrast to some established philosophers such as Plato who espouse universalism regarding the truth. According to Plato’s school of thought, a human being can know some objective truth that serves as the basis for any system of philosophy. Hobbes explains that truth is a social construct based on language, and has strains that are anti-elitist to it, especially his arguments that no reason of a man is infallible, regardless how the man is esteemed, or how their thoughts may be entrenched in tradition. Hobbes explains that people only know the world via their own sense organs. As a consequence, a person is the only standard via which an individual measures rational social organization (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

The fact that Hobbes explanation begins with sense does not mean that his philosophy starts with natural science; that is, with first principles and definitions driven from human understanding of the outside world. Yet in explaining sense, as he has, Hobbes refuses human beings’ access to objective truth. Humans experience outside world contrary to Aristotle, and subjectively. Since human understanding of outside world is very subjective, it is therefore different from one person to another; thus, the outside world, for Hobbes, serves as a foundation that is poorly based on philosophy (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

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Hobbes explains that entire human experience and, hence, the entire understanding that come because of sensing can be taken as an explanation against an innate understanding and, for the concept of tabula Rosa, of the mind of human beings.  This concept suggests that human beings enter the world with no understanding, and they only accumulate understanding only via the contact with external stimuli. Yet if a person’s mind is a blank slate, how can he imagine things that he has not sensed? For example, a person imagining that a horse has horns while in the real sense it does not. Hobbes explains that such imaginative entities are because of imaginations that are compounded. He further explains that individuals can take two qualities or objectives: they have direct experience with and put them together in their minds to develop new images. Horse plus horns: the result is Unicom (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

Finally, it is crucial to note that Hobbes’ explanations in the beginning sections of Leviathan reflect a geometric proof. Hobbes, in a careful manner, explains terms like memory, reason and sense. He continues step-by-step in each explanation building towards the last one. Hobbes view geometry as the theory by which man judges the entire logic. Hobbes explains that individuals can only establish the truth through a common authority (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

Hobbes proceeds with detailed functions of thhe Leviathan by addressing certain legal issues and offices of commonwealth. Hobbes suggests that sovereign counselors must by their position be worthy, experienced, and able. Their understanding must be adequate to the advice they present. Furthermore, the goals and motivations of a counselor must resemble those of the sovereign or be ensued by discord. The best forms of governments are those that are administered by privy of sovereigns, according to the advice of several counselors.  The better forms of government are those that are administered by sovereign judgments alone. On the other hand, the worst forms of government are those that are administered with assistance of counselors, who come with difficulties at a plurality of opinionated consents before they advise the sovereign. According to Hobbes, consensus is allowed in a situation whereby a person with several opinions is willing to resolve (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

For this reason, Hobbes content that the final judge of law is sovereign. Civil rules are defined as those sovereign rules commanded through decrees, writings, and words. States must make laws that are known to the citizens for them to be regarded as laws. In cases where a subject is not able to understand the law, an idiot or a child, or the sovereign does not communicate the rule to the people, the laws cannot be justly enforced. However, the natural enforcement of law, which are based on civil law and are contained, are not contingent towards communicating the rules, since natural laws are known via reason alone (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

The entire laws of a state should be interpreted and judged, and since the sovereign makes the final judgment, he appoints subordinate judges to help him in the administering his laws. For a judge to be appointed, he must be impartial, reach his final judgment via a well exercise of reason, and judge equitably. Sometimes, a judge may allow transgression of a law if transgressor demonstrates reasonable ignorance of the rule. However, if the rules are known or are expected to be known, a judge cannot allow it to be broken. Breaking natural rules that are known to every one cannot be allowed, except for maniacs, children or other creatures that do not reason (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

Public authorities inflict punishment to offenders of the laws. The sovereign has the power to punish offenders for him to defend the commonwealth security. In addition, it is the right of the sovereign to acquire some subjects for punishing other subjects for not obeying the rules. Nevertheless, a sovereign cannot acquire an offender to punish her or himself because he will be violating the natural fundamental rights: the self-preservation right that the sovereign was created. Moreover, sovereign actions cannot be declared illegal since he is the basis of the law; therefore, the laws cannot govern him. Consequently, the sovereign cannot be punished. Reward is the counterpart of punishment in Leviathan. A subject is granted reward by public authority. This reward takes a form of a payment if it is being rewarded for a service or a form of gift if it is being rewarded by the public authority’s grace. The interplay between reward and punishment makes the Leviathan work well. In the body metaphor language, they are the tendons and nerves that move the joints and limbs of a commonwealth (Hobbes: The Leviathan).

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