Late Night Thoughts on Plato, Hobbes & Food

The thing with working an entry level job is that sometimes business gets really, really slow. When that happens (which it does pretty much every night around 1 am) you find your mind exploring some rather strange ideas. For some bizarre reason, tonight I found myself visualizing a dinner party — with all the dining guests as famous philosophers. This led me to wonder: if Plato and Thomas Hobbes were to meet, would the two of them get along?

The image of Plato and Hobbes breaking bread together seems quite intriguing, albeit rather peculiar. In both seminar and lecture, many points have been raised discussing the various similarities and differences between the two philosophers. Plato’s dialogue and usage of the Socratic method has been juxtaposed with Hobbes’ mathematical treatise, and similarly with their views on truth and the existence of metaphysical Forms. On the other hand, many have pointed out the strong similarities between the ideas of the two government; both philosophers seem to agree that the ideal society functions under a monarchy and is a macrocosm of a healthy human being.

At this imaginary dinner party, it appears that the greatest difference between the two philosophers would be the one pointed out by William of Occam. The two philosophers clearly hold very different stances regarding human nature and action: I find it difficult to believe that Plato and Hobbes would not be in fierce debate regarding the ideas of justice containing intrinsic value as well as the natural state of man.

Having said that, I feel that the two men would get along and enjoy the company of each other. Plato’s love of the elenchus would surface as he would attempt to probe Thomas Hobbes in search of faults in his argument, and Hobbes would gladly respond with structured, mathematical eloquence. Although the two philosophers may hold several strong beliefs on contrasting sides, they would both be happy to engage in discussion: their mutual love for logic and philosophy may just be enough to crack a smile on what appears to be two permanently frowning faces.

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