Um? Leviathan

Ok so I still don’t fully understand Leviathan, but so far this is the most interesting of the philosophical books we’ve read so far, in my opinion. Although, there are a couple ideas that I don’t full agree with (probably because I don’t fully understand :s) but one was at the beginning (P.18 I think, I’m so bad at finding things after I’ve read them) when he talks about how words can make a person wise or foolish. I disagree with this, I think words can make a person APPEAR wise or foolish, but they aren’t need to decipher between a foolish and wise person. Whether you express yourself (through words) or not, you can still react to things in different ways that can be considered weird, abnormal or foolish. You are still a foolish person, but it’s your words that give others the evidence to label you as foolish. To be wise is to be experienced and you’re able to experience things without speech, and oppositely if you’re inexperienced you might be considered foolish, which again has nothing to do with speech.
Words can share other people’s knowledge and experiences which can potentially make you more wise (Not definitely since you’re pretty much a blind person following another blind person as Hobbes said), but it is still the experience that is making you wise not the words and through reading there’s no way to transfer a lack of experience or foolishness.

One other thing was his statement that there is “no reasoning without speech” (P.20) Again, I’m not sure if I even understand this, but the way that I read this made me disagree because reasoning isn’t just through words, it’s also through memory and vision. You don’t need to recount aloud your memory to reason something and you don’t need to voice what you’re seeing either. For example if you saw a weird looking fruit that your friend just ate and got sick it doesn’t take words to reason that you shouldn’t eat this fruit. It’s out of the memory of your friend becoming sick and seeing that fruit and associating the two. You’re making connections in your brain that don’t require you to write your findings on a piece of paper or even think in words what happened.

That is all


1 thought on “Um? Leviathan

  1. Nice reflections here! I don’t remember the part about words making people wise or foolish, and I don’t have my book with me at the moment, so I’ll have to look that one up later and see what I think about what he’s saying.

    The one about there being no reasoning without speech is interesting. Again, I’ll have to go read this passage again, but if I remember correctly I think he’s suggesting that reasoning requires us to think in abstract terms rather than just thinking about particular entities, and language allows us to think abstractly. So, for example, we need to be able to make abstractions to think of something like “trees” in general rather than just experiencing different individual ones. And again, if I remember correctly, Hobbes is saying we need language to be able to make such abstractions. Now that you and I have it it seem easy, of course; we just look at trees and can recognize them all as trees. But if we didn’t have language, Hobbes argues, all we’d have is perceptions of individual trees. We need something to allow us to think of the abstract concept of “tree” in general, and that doesn’t just come from our perceptions of individual trees (each perception is just something separate).

    Now I may be forgetting something here, and I’ll go back and look at this…and maybe you can bring it up in class and we can talk about it!

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