“Leviathan Book 1” by Thomas Hobbes (1651) – Introduction to Chapter 5

“Master of puppets – I’m pulling your strings”

“Leviathan Book 1” by Thomas Hobbes (1651)

Introduction

  • Nature can create things through man
    • If life is but the moving of limbs, everything that comes as a consequence is artificial life
    • Even further than man’s physical creations is the Leviathan of State – greater than a state of nature
      • It provides an artificial being that protects & defends man, & an artificial soul to give life & motion to the body of people
      • Officers of the State serve the people’s safety, memory, reason, will, etc.
  • Book investigates this artificial man
    • Part 1 – the matter & artificer that is man
    • Part 2 – how it is made, rights & just power of authority of a sovereign, what preserves it & what dissolves it
    • Part 3 – Christian Commonwealth
    • Part 4 – Kingdom of Darkness
  • It’s said that wisdom is acquired not by reading books but by reading men
    • Many of those who say that use it as an excuse for slander & backbiting, & then calling themselves wise for it
    • The saying, “know thyself” works better
      • Men have a lot of similarities & if you looking within yourself, you can understand others through understanding yourself
      • You’ll be able to detect in others all the good AND bad that you see in yourself
    • It might not be perfect but it can give you a decent insight of mankind as a whole

Chapter 1 – Of Senses

  • We’ll start with senses because that’s where all concepts in a man’s mind begin
    • Might not be directly relevant to the rest of this work but it’s the place where it starts
  • External things exist outside of us & our sensory organs tell our brains what they are picking up – images, smells, sounds, tastes & feelings
    • This processing of all these things is sense & allows us to understand the world around us

Chapter 2 – Of Imagination

  • People know a thing will sit still until it’s moved but don’t think a thing will stay in motion until it’s stopped because people get tired after moving & they think the object will get tired just like they would
  • When a body moves, it moves until stopped but it isn’t done instantly. It takes time & effort to slow it down, then to stop it
    • You can see that with wind & water slowing & stopping things.
  • If you close your eyes, you keep the image of a thing in your mind
    • This is a form of decaying sense found in men & animals
  • When an object moves from our eyes, it shifts from our immediate sense to our imaginations
    • When it falls out of our minds from sense & imagination over time, it weakens with the passage of time & distance
    • It’s a form of decay. The shift from sense to imagination is in a form of memory
  • Memories of things are called experience of things once sensed & passed into imagination
    • Memory can be compounded with other memories/imaginations/experiences of seeing the same thing or person in different situations
    • Shapes, colors, warmth, etc. can have forms of memory for us
  • It may be difficult to distinguish between dreams & memory
    • Senses can be confused by the circumstances
  • Your memories & imagination can have an influence on your present by reminding you of something or give you ideas coming from other areas of your experienes
    • Sometimes dreams are called prophecies or prognostics
  • Teachers receive knowledge & it becomes memory/experience/imagination & they pass it on to student
    • This is called understanding once it becomes a custom

Chapter 3 – Of the Consequence or Train of Imaginations

  • One thought leads to another [mental discourse]
    • Once you start thinking, the next thought may or may not be related to the last one
  • 2 types of mental discourse
    • 1 – Unguided – without design or is inconstant
      • No passionate thought to govern or any specific goal or purpose to move toward
      • Thoughts wander as if in a dream [day dream]
      • May or may not be connected to the next thought
    • 2 – Regulated by a desire or a design. Impression is stronger & more permanent – so strong it can wake you up or keep you from sleeping
      • 2a – When we plan to make it happen [men & animals both do this]
      • 2b – We imagine what we can do with it once we have it [only man does this]
        • Discourse of mind in design is seeking, hunting out & the effects of that hunt
        • Seeking lost things is based in remembrance
  • Sometimes a man will know the place where his thoughts seek something & he’ll search that place
  • Sometimes he’ll try to find what he needs to do by thinking of past actions to apply to his goal
    • Can be called foresight, providence, prudence, wisdom – but it can be wrong
      • Present only exists in nature
      • Past only exists in memory
      • Future is a fiction based on past & imagined through prophecy & guessing
        • A sign is an antecedent of what’s to happen in the future
      • Some animals show more prudence than children do
        • Prudence is a presumption of the future based on past experiences
    • Our imaginations are finite – no possibility of picturing infinite time, space, force, etc.
      • Only God can do that

Chapter 4 – Of Speech

  • The printing press wasn’t as ingenious as the written word
    • Allows for continuation of memories beyond region & time
    • Comes from speech which uses the mouth, tongue, lips & palate to make noises that mean something
    • Without speech, there’d be no society or government – we’d be like animals
    • First user of speech was God who taught Adam the names of the animals. But the Bible says no more than that
      • Adam may have created the rest of language – general, special, affirmative, negative, interrogative, etc.
    • Adam & co. worked on it until it was lost at the Tower of Babel where God dispersed people into different parts of the world because they rebelled & now there are many languages
  • Purpose of language is to transfer mental discourse verbally or to turn train of though into train of word – sharing memories
    • Names trigger people’s memories of things & people
    • Signs show the causes of things
    • We can show others our wills & purpose & to please ourselves & others with word play or fanciness
  • Words can be used to deceive others & yourself
    • Can be put into metaphors & to hurt one another
  • Names can be proper to a person, common to many things or universal words for things with similar traits
    • They might have mutual comprehension
  • Words have consequence
    • A triangle is defined as a polygon with 3 sides & angles adding up to 180°
      • Universal rule or law – always true under any circumstances
  • Words might have categories containing other categories
    • A man is a living creature -> If he’s a man, he has to be a living creature
      • “True” & “False” are attributes of speech, without speech, there is no “True” or “False”
      • Man seeks truth in remembering meanings & when he fails he becomes entangled in words
        • The true words are definitions
    • Any man who aspires to true knowledge should explore an author’s “definitions”
      • When mistakes are made, in defining things, men are ultimately led into absurdities
  • First use of speech is in the right definition
    • When it’s wrong, everything that follows is wrong too
      • If what you read is wrong, you can only learn what’s true by understanding through words & speech. Also, when you’re wrong, it is the surest way to become foolish
  • Words’ interpretation depends on what language you’re using. The Greek word “logos” translates into English as “word” or “reason”
    • Diversity of words can be described
      • 1 – Word for matter/body – living, sensible, rational, hot, etc.
      • 2 – Accident/quality we think of it being – being moved, being hot, being alive. Living implies life. Being moved implies motion, etc.
      • 3 – Properties of our own bodies – things seen by us, colors seen by us, ideas heard by us
      • 4 – Qualities of names themselves & types of speech – affirmation, interrogation, syllogism, sermon, commandment.
        • Negatives symbolize what a thing is not
  • Words are invented all the time but are meaningless to most people – “round square”, etc.
  • Understanding others comes from reading or hearing
    • False affirmations don’t provide understanding
  • In reasoning, man must know that meanings of words aren’t always the same for 2 different people
  • Even more complicated in metaphors

Chapter 5 – Of Reason & Science

  • When a man reasons, he’s calculating – adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying – literally with numbers, as well as putting words & ideas together to make a syllogism & then a demonstration
    • Political writers do this by adding men’s duties, lawyers put laws & rights together to judge what’s wrong or right in men’s actions
      • Sometimes reason has no role in any of this
  • “Reason” is just reckoning of the consequences of the names & markings agreed upon by ourselves & others
    • Both learned & unlearned men may deceive themselves with false premises, ending up with false conclusions
    • Lots of room for error – no man is infallible or certain in his reasoning
      • Many men agree on something, giving it the illusion of being true. It’s hard when there’s no “natural” arbiter of reason & men, thinking they are wise, say something is true without must behind it. Often, it’s very convenient for their line of “reasoning” to be called true
  • We use reason not to find one thing that’s true but to find the most basic building blocks of understanding & proceed from them
    • We can’t be any more certain of the last conclusion if its premises aren’t well-grounded
    • Reasoning is founded on the last & first conclusions equally
  • When we reckon without words, we guess what may have happened before & what’s likely to follow
    • If what’s likely to follow doesn’t actually follow, or what’s likely to have happened doesn’t actually happen, this reckoning is an error, something that happens to even the wisest men
    • When we reason with words & come to a false inference, it might be an “error” but in speech, it comes out nonsense or bullshit
    • Error is a deception in presuming the past or future
      • “Round triangle”, “free will” or any contradiction – absurd
    • We reduce consequences to “theorems” or “aphorisms”
      • A man can reason numbers & sequences using these
    • But only men can fall prey to absurdities, especially philosopher, because definitions give seem indisputable but they still can be wrong:
      • 1 – The method is off. The names don’t match objects in explaining things in assertions
      • 2 – Absurd assertions – made without proof & end up being wrong
      • 3 – Using descriptions that are subjective
      • 4 – Using general adjectives for specific things
      • 5 – Using the nature of a thing as its definition – tautologies
      • 6 – Using metaphors, figures of speech instead of actual, proper words
      • 7 – Using words that mean nothing
  • If you can avoid these, it’s easy not to talk nonsense – just don’t go on & on about a subject
    • Men can reason well if they avoid mistakes & stick to principle. If mistakes aren’t detected early, everything based on them will be mistakes too
      • Keeping honest & mistake-free is science – the correct knowledge of consequences
    • Children aren’t used to reason, especially if they can’t speak. That comes slowly but surely with speech
  • Men can get a hold of reason but often they have little use for it in their lives. They see it as magic or trickery
  • Men without contact with science are better off than those with bad reasoning or reliance on wrong facts regularly
    • Ignorance doesn’t establish bad habits but bad habits & methods lead to cemented & repetitive miscalculations
  • The mind can work properly but often leads to mistakes when given bad information or using false premises
    • “Prudence” & “Sapience”, through Latin, translate to “wisdom” but they do have different meanings
      • “Prudence” is knowing how & when to act & behave – relies on judgment
      • “Sapience” is knowing what to do – relies on knowledge

 

 

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