For the Seeing and Knowing theme in 2015, we had two lectures on Hobbes. Only one was recorded (the second one dealt more directly with the political aspects of the text).
The lecture plus slides are available on the UBC Mediasite system: http://mediasitemob1.mediagroup.ubc.ca/Mediasite/Play/85bca7074dd94a6780ee3c8b01ccb2601d
The lecture is also on YouTube, embedded below, but the slides are a bit difficult to read:
- Link to the Prezi used by Christina Hendricks
- Hobbes is often taken to argue that humankind is naturally bad. Does your reading of Leviathan support this view?
- “It is taken as self-evidently true that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Would Hobbes disagree? Why?
- Hobbes provides several similes and other images in Leviathan, such as when he refers to the commonwealth as an “artificial person” (Chapt. 16, section 2, p. 101). Analyze one or two of his images (including, if you choose, from the Frontispiece) and explain whether or not they add to the effectiveness of his arguments in the text, and why.
- Hobbes argues that all things follow deterministic physical laws. How convincing, then, is his argument for a free will that is not physically restrained?
- “Good and Evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different tempers, customs, and doctrines of men are different” (Chpt. 15, section 40, p. 100). While Hobbes recognizes that moral precepts vary greatly across humanity, he also makes the case for the existence of objective moral rules that transcend custom. What is the basis for this argument, and is it convincing?
- Use Hobbes’s argument about the conditions for effective and stable governance to evaluate the rulership of one of the following: Prospero in The Tempest, Oedipus in Oedipus Rex, or Plato’s philosophical ruler(s).
- Hobbes suggests he is trying to steer between two extremes of authority and liberty: “I know not how the world will receive [this book] …. For in a way beset with those that contend, on one side for too great liberty, and on the other side for too much authority, ‘tis hard to pass between the points of both unwounded” (1). Does Leviathan actually find a middle ground between liberty and authority, in spite of its unyielding defence of absolute state power?
- Compare Plato’s and Hobbes’ views of one of the following: justice, liberty, the state, metaphysics. How do their views differ? Which thinker offers a better principle by which to organize and administer a society?
- Argue either for or against Hobbes’ claims (in book XIX) that a monarchy is less corruptible than either a democracy or an aristocracy.
- Hobbes grounds the authority of the sovereign on the consent of the governed. Yet this consent is rooted in a fear of death. Explain why you are or are not convinced by Hobbes’s claim that this consent is morally binding.
- What are Hobbes’ justifications for how powerful the sovereign needs to be in the state, and are they adequate?