Hobbes, Leviathan Book

Start by selecting one of the several discussion questions found in the canvass/blackboard assignment for that particular week. At the beginning of the paper briefly explain why you chose that particular question, then proceed to answer that question by:

a) Selecting two passages from the text

b) Explaining and interpreting what you regard as the correct meaning of each passage

c) Considering their implications with regard to the text as a whole

d) Most importantly, explaining in detail why those two passages constitute important evidence to answer the specific question you chose

The weekly paper should be a full, single-spaced page.

Paper1: March 23rd

Hobbes, Leviathan, pp. 223-274; 294-302; 311-323; 330-335; 363-373. Answer one of the following question by using evidence from the assigned reading (check the syllabus for format and instructions):

1) In what ways does the Chapter 16 (217-222) at the end of last week’s reading set up this week’s arguments on the Commonwealth? Who is the political “author” as opposed to the “actor” after the social contract and what are the political implications of this designation?
2) What are the terms of the social contract? How free and voluntary is it? Under what conditions is it invalid? Under what conditions does the government violate the terms of the contract and what would be the consequences of that violation?
3) What are the limits, checks and balances Hobbes places on government?
4) What is Hobbes’ preferred form of government? In the context of the English Civil War, how do you think the monarchy, as opposed to parliament, might have reacted to Hobbes’ argument?
5) Should Hobbes be considered to be part of the tradition of Classical Liberalism as described in the lecture?

1) Why does Hobbes begin a treatise of politics with “man?” What are the political implications of this particular starting point and how does it affect the rest of the reading?

2) What is Hobbes’ attitude toward science, and more specifically a) geometry b) physics?

3) What is Hobbes’ attitude toward religion and, more generally, toward traditional ways of thinking about politics?

4) Are there any explicit or implicit signs that Hobbes’ philosophy might be influenced by the ongoing experience of the English Civil War? And if that’s the case, does he seem to be on the side of the monarchy or of parliament?

5) On page 183, Hobbes defends a radical view of human equality in the “state of nature.” Already by page 185 conditions in the state of nature turn out to the hellish. What do you suppose he is up to?

6) What are Hobbes’ views concerning justice and morality? Consider in particular his account of the state of nature, the right of nature, the laws of nature and the social contract. Are there any similarities to Machiavelli’s views on justice and morality?

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