Thomas Hobbes
Matter & Society
It's Method
and Scope

Four Causes:
Final: the 
end sought
or purpose
Formal: the
plan or 
pattern of
its constitution
Efficient: the process of its 
Material: what
it's made of

  • The synthetic aim of philosophy: a unified theory of absolutely everything.
    • as the medievals conceived it: a top down story about how everything serves God's grand plan or salvation: theologically & teleologically (invoking final causes).
      • by a single maker
      • with a single purpose
    • as Hobbes (with the modern age) conceives it: materialistically: a bottom up story about what everything is made of & how: mechanistically (invoking efficient & material causes). {1}
      • of a single material
      • whose motions and arrangements cause everything else in accord with the universal law(s) of nature.
  • Hobbes' Overview of Philosophy {2}
    • Natural philosophy: the study of natural bodies
    • Civil philosophy: the study of commonwealths
      • Ethics: studies "the dispositions and manners of men
      • Politics: studies "the civil duties of subjects" (121)
  • Only body, finite being, is comprehensible: infinite being is incomprehensible & consequently there can be no unifying conception of reality in terms of God & His purposes. {3}
  1. The subject of Philosophy, or the matter it treats of, is every body of which we can conceive any generation, and which we may, by any consideration thereof, compare with other bodies, or which is capable of composition and resolution; that is to say every body of whose generation or properties we can have any knowledge.  . . .  Therefore, it excludes Theology, I mean the doctrine of God eternal, ingenerable, incomprehensible, and in whom there is nothing neither to divide nor compound, nor any generation to be conceived. (121)
  2. The principle parts of philosophy are two.  For two chief kinds of bodies, and very different from one another, offer themselves to such a search after their generation and properties; one whereof being the work of nature is called a natural body, and the other is called a commonwealth and is made by the wills and agreement of men. (121)
  3. But the knowledge of what is infinite can never be acquired by a finite inquirer.  Whatsoever we know that are men, we learn it from our phantasms; and of infinite, whether magnitude or time, there is no phantasm at all; so that it is impossible either for a man or any other creature to have any conception of infinite. (123)

in kind. 
Identity =
being one and
the same

Ship of Theseus:
suppose all the 
planks & other
parts are replaced,
gradually, until,
finally all the originals parts
have been
replaced.  Suppose
someone has
retained all the
parts removed and
puts them back
together to make
another ship.
Question: Which
is the ship of

  • Body in General {1}
    • occupies space
    • is at motion or at rest
      • motion: occupying different spaces at successive times
      • rest: occupying the same space at successive times
  • First Philosophy & Special Sciences {2}
    • First philosophy: treats of body in general
    • Special sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology) treat of bodies of specific sizes & constructions.
  • The universe is a plenum having all its parts "contiguous to one another, in such a manner not to admit the least empty space in between": no such thing as a vacuum.
  • Universal causation: determinism: 
    • All things are necessitated by antecedent causes. {3}{4}
    • Including future contingents: they only appear contingent due to our lack of knowledge of their (presence or absence of) causes. {5}
  • Numerical identity and difference: {6}
    • two bodies differ "when something may be said of one of them which cannot be said of the other at the same time." (125)
    • no two bodies are numerically the same since, being two, they occupy different spaces at any single time. 
  • Problem of individuation or identity through time {7} traced to conflict between to criteria or principles of individuation. {8}
    • material principle: "some place individuity in the sameness of matter" {9}
    • formal principle: "others in the unity of form" {10}
  • Special sciences: deal with bodies of determinate magnitude moving at determinate velocity: parts of the whole plenum.
    • All our knowledge of these bodies derives from changes they cause in our own.
    • The special sciences are projections of physiology
    • Physiology itself is just the physics of those regions of the plenum that are called brains.
  1. "Matter [is] that which having no dependence on our thought, is co-extended with some part of space." (122)
  2. Concerning the world, as it is one aggregate of many parts, the things that fall under inquiry are few; and those we can determine none.  Of the whole world we may inquire what is its magnitude, what its duration is, and nothing else. (122)
  3. An entire cause is always sufficient for the production of its effect, if that effect be at all possible.  (124). 
  4. And seeing a necessary cause is defined to be that, which being supposed, the effect cannot by follow; this also may be collected, that whatsoever effect is produced at any time, the same is produced by a necessary cause. (124)
  5. Wherefore, all propositions concerning future things, contingent or not contingent, as this, it will rain tomorrow, or this, tomorrow the sun will rise, are either necessarily true, or necessarily false; be we call them contingent because we do not know yet whether they be true or false; whereas there verity depends not upon our knowledge, but upon the foregoing of their causes. (125)
  6. And first of all, it is manifest that no two bodies are the same; for seeing they are two, they are in two places at the same time; as that which is the same, is at the same time in one and the same place.  All bodies therefore differ from one another in number; namely, as one and another; so that the same and different in number, are names opposed to one another by contradiction. (125)
  7. The same body may at different times be compared with itself.  And from hence springs the great controversy among philosophers about the beginning of individuation, namely, in what sense it may be conceived that a body is at one time the same, at another time not the same as it was formerly. (125)
  8. But we must consider by what name anything is called, when we inquire concerning the identity of it. (126)
  9. Whensoever the name, by which it is asked whether a thing be the same it was, is given for the matter only, then if the matter be the same, the thing also is individually the same; as the water, which was in the sea, is the same which is afterwards in the cloud . . . (126)
  10. Also if a name be given for such form as is the beginning of motion, then as long as that motion remains it is the same individual thing; as that man will always be the same, whose actions and thoughts proceed all from the same beginning of motion, namely, that which was in his generation . . .  (126)
Humanity: Our
selves are
just matter
in motion.

Gap: "Why a 
motion should be
experienced as a
sensation at all, 
and why one 
motion is experienced as middle C and another as
red, are, and remain, complete mysteries as
far as first philosophy 
goes" (Jones, 128)

  • Mind-body problem for materialism: to give a convincing "reduction" of mind to matter, of thought, experience, and volition to bodily motion.
  • Cogitating Motions:
    • motions in our brains give rise to experienced images or phantasms -- experienced colors, sensations of warmth, of solidity, etc.
    • external bodies cause these phantasms, by their effects on our physiology
    • but the qualities these phantasms represent external bodies as having  are in us, not the outside objects which cause them {1}
    • we can recognize the deception by comparison of different phantasms {2}
  • Sensation: motions set up in our bodies by external objects: imagination (e.g., dreams) and memory are just decaying sensations. {3}{4}{5}
  • Association of Ideas: thoughts accompany and succeed each other in a regular manner based on the accompaniment and succession of sensations. {6}
  • Scientific Knowledge: reasoning is drawing out the consequences of names (or their definitions), and scientific knowledge is, consequently, conditional: {7} {8}
    • we know that if these definitions apply then such and such must be the consequences; 
    • but whether the definitions apply is determined by sense not reasoning.
    • so the applicability of concepts in predicting and controlling nature is the only test of their truth or scientific adequacy {9}
      • alternative conceptions and laws might do equally well for prediction and control purposes 
      • science cannot claim to demonstrate the "true cause of the phenomena"
      • only "causes sufficient to produce them" (135)
  • Voluntary motions are those caused by phantasms {10}
    • deliberation is just the succession of phantasms {11}
    • contrary to the idea that deliberate choices are uncaused or "self-caused" willings {12}
    • contrary to the idea that deliberate choice is unique to humans {13} {14}
  • Relativity, Subjectivity, & Conventionality of Values {15}
    • whatever an individual desires, that they think good
    • whatever they are averse to, that they think bad
    • & not vice versa: there are no objective values
    • for the sake of peace we may agree to certain conventions
  • Due to our common natures as subjects we desire similar "goods".
  • Approximate equality of human mental and physical endowments means no one can reasonably hope to win out over everyone else in the competition for these "goods" just on the basis of their own superior strength or intelligence. {16}
  • Consequently, without a superior power to restrain them, the natural state of human existence is
    • a war of each against all {17}
    • in which life is intolerable. {18}
  • Religion being a kind of irrational delusion based on subjective feelings, there is no basis for religious agreement except authoritarian imposition. {19}
  1. Whatsoever accidents or qualities our senses make us think there are in the world, they are not there, but are seeming and apparitions only: the thing that really are in the world without us are those motions by which these seemings are caused.  This is the great deception of sense. (129)
  2. [The great deception of sense] is by sense corrected: for as sense telleth me when I see directly that the colour seemeth to be in the object; so also sense telleth me, when I see by reflection, that colour is not in the object. (129)
  3. For after the object is removed, or the eye shut, we still retain an image of the thing seen, though more obscure than when we see it.  (130)
  4. This decaying sense, when we would express the thing itself, I mean fancy itself, we call imagination, as I said before: but when we would express the decay, and signify that the sense is fading, old, and past, it is called memory.  So that imagination and memory are but one thing, which for divers considerations hath divers names. (131)
  5. The imaginations of them that sleep are those we call dreams.  And these also, as all other imaginations, have been before, either totally or by parcels in the sense. (131)
  6. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently.  Be as we have no imagination, whereof we have not formerly has sense, in whole, or in parts; so we have no transition from one imagination to another whereof we never had the like before in our senses.  (131)
  7. [Reasoning is] nothing but reckoning, that is adding and subtracting, of the consequences of general names. (133-134)
  8. No man can know by discourse, that this, or that, is, has been, or will be; which is to know absolutely: but only, that if this be, that is; if this has been, that has been; if this shall be, that shall be: which is to know conditionally; and that not the consequence of one thing to another; but of one name of a thing, to another name of a thing. (134)
  9. [S]alve the appearances. (135)
  10. And because going, speaking, and the like voluntary motions, depend always upon a present thought of whither, which way, and what; it is evident, that the imagination is the first internal beginning of all voluntary motion.  (137)
  11. [T]he whole sum of desires, aversions, hopes and fears, continued till the thing either be done, or thought impossible, we call DELIBERATION. (138)
  12. And although unstudied men do not conceive any motion  at all to be there, where the thing moved is invisible; or the spate it is moved in is, for the shortness of it insensible; yet that doth not hinder, but that such motions are. (137)
  13. The alternate succession of appetites, aversions, hopes and fears, is no less in other living creatures than in man; and therefore beasts also deliberate. (138)
  14. Will therefore is the last appetite in deliberating. (138)
  15. For these words of good, evil, and contemptible, are ever used with relation to the person that useth them: there being nothing absolutely so; nor any common rule of good and evil to be taken from the nature of the objects themselves; but from the person of the man, where there is no commonwealth; or, in a commonwealth, from the person that representeth it; or from an arbiter or judge, who men, disagreeing, shall by consent set up, and make his sentence the rule thereof. (137-138)
  16. Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of the body, and mind; as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind than another; yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man, and man, is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend as well as he.  (140-141)
  17. Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in tat condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man, against every man. (141)
  18. In such a condition . . . [is] the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. (142)
  19. Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind, or imagined from tales publicly allowed, [is called] RELIGION; not allowed [is called] SUPERSTITION. (144)
The State, the Social Contract,
and the Need
for an 
  • The state or body politic -- "Leviathan" -- kind of super personal being.  It lives and thinks but is a mechanism for all that; just as we ourselves, human beings, are just complicated mechanisms.
    • there may be artificial life or intelligence {1}
    • the state embodies collective life or intelligence {2}
  • Arises necessarily due to (1) psychological egoism {3}; (2) scarcity of goods; (3) relative equality of human endowments; (4) warranted mutual mistrust
  • Need for an absolute ruler
    • if people were to follow certain rules they could live peacefully rather than at war, each against all, which would be benefit each and all {4}
    • so they are motivated to make a covenant under which each sacrifices their natural "right to all things" for the sake of peace {5} 
    • but this covenant can only be maintained if there is "some coercive power, to compel men equally to the performance of their covenants" (147)
    • Hence the need for an absolute sovereign. {6}
  • Laws of our nature cause us to consent to such authority and voluntarily renounce our natural liberty for the sake of peace. {7}
  1. For seeing life is but a motion of limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principal part within; why may we not say that all automata (engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch) have an artificial life?  For what is the heart, but a spring; and the nerves but so many strings; and the joints but so many wheels, giving motion to the whole body, such as was intended by its artificer. 
  2. For by art is created the great LEVIATHAN called a COMMONWEALTH, or STATE . . . which is but an artificial man.  (145)
  3. Of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good for himself. (146)
  4. And consequently it is a precept or general rule of reason, that every man, ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of attaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps and advantages of war. (146)
  5. From this fundamental law of nature, by which men are commanded to endeavor peace, it derived this second law: that a man be willing, when others are too, as far forth as for peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.  (146)
  6. [T]here must be some coercive power, to compel men equally to the performance of their covenants, by the terror of some punishment, greater than the benefit they expect by the breach of their covenant; . . . and such power there is none before the erection of a commonwealth. (147)
  7. The only way to erect such a common power . . . is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men. . . . (149)

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