Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Thought

FLG was in line for a coffee at Dean & Deluca today when he randomly had a thought about Hobbes. He hasn't read Hobbes in a while, but he's not going to read Leviathan again to disprove this thought:
If Hobbes views humans as pleasure-seeking/pain-fleeing machines. And further that our biggest fear is that we suffer a violent death at the hands of other human beings, which then serves as one of our primary motivations. Then doesn't this imply some sort of resistance to coercion that undermines his conclusion that the Leviathan is the best form of government?

I have this sinking feeling that I'm missing something tremendously obvious here because one simply doesn't unravel Hobbes while waiting in line at a pretentious coffee shop.


Hilarius Bookbinder said...

Being away from my Hobbes, I can't confirm, but I recall that he's the one who makes a big deal out of how the government cannot, e.g., force you on a suicide mission if you're a soldier (in contrast to Locke). Leviathan actually does have some limits.

George Pal said...

For whatever its worth, I’d say Hobbes had it all wrong.

Somewhere in the double helix there’s DNA at work in the production and upkeep of a “fail-safe” gene, the purpose of which is to initiate a response in opposition to compulsion, benign or authoritarian. Outside the scientific community the effect is more widely known as the ‘fuck you response’.

Miss Self-Important said...

Yes, what was said above: legal coercion is not murder, unless you're of the Benjamin/Cover school of all law is violence. Also, I doubt we have any innate impulse to resist compulsion or that we treat all compulsion as a form of pain, or we'd never be able to live in society in the first place.

Withywindle said...

It implies that the Leviathan has to be so strong that resistance is (yes) futile. If you like, cussed orneriness is already factored into the theory.

Anonymous said...

Admittedly, I haven't read my Hobbes in a while, so I could be wrong. However, I'm not sure where your idea of coercion is coming from. People choose to form the social contract together because it is in our best interests (life in the state of nature being so incredibly bad that it's worth giving control to a sovereign in order to avoid living in the state of nature, where we would most likely "suffer a violent death at the hands of other human beings," as you put it). Thus, it's not coercion. Perhaps I'm missing your point?

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