I’d heard about Hobbes and his Leviathan in my politics class last year, and it was definitely not quite what I was expecting. I was thinking it would be very pessimistic and about the evilness of humanity, which I was sort of looking forward to, but it wasn’t really, at least not to the extent I was thinking. It wasn’t an easy read for me, but I usually tend to have a bit of trouble getting into the feel of these texts from hundreds of years ago. But I really like them, since I find them really interesting, and even though I don’t agree with a lot of what is said (I wonder how an argument between Hobbes and I would go…) I still enjoy them.
I wasn’t expecting all that at the beginning about speech and definitions. Leviathan felt a little bit more like a dictionary for a while there. But defining terms is very important when making an argument like this, and I understand why he did it. Though it was a little tedious to read.
I feel like fear plays a large role in all of our texts, which makes sense, since our theme is monsters in the mirror. But every now and then I go ‘wow, that really fits perfectly’. The reason we strive for peace and hand over unlimited power to the sovereign is fear of death, Hobbes says. The phrase “better safe than sorry” is coming to mind. He isn’t saying that given half a chance, we’d all be out to kill each other. It’s more that it’s a possibility that there are those who would, so ultimate power to the sovereign would protect us. Makes sense. But, I’ve gotta say, something about “unlimited power of the sovereign” brings to mind villainous cartoon characters cackling about world domination.
It’s easy to see how this has become a very renowned text. Sure, we don’t live in a 100% Hobbesian state, with our many rights and the fact that we can take away power from a “sovereign” (anyone heard the news with Rob Ford?), but you can see things that Hobbes would be pleased with, were he to ever visit Canada, as was brought up in the debate. Though I’ll say that I think there’d be more that he would be thoroughly displeased with. But until I finally get my time machine working (it’s in the planning stages) we’ll have to live with the uncertainty.
I hope everyone has a great winter break, can’t wait to see you all when we get back!