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A question on Hobbes' sovereign

 
 
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 04:49 am
Leviathan has been on my "to-read" list for who knows how long and I've finally started it this week.

I've just finished the part where he talks about the commonwealth and sovereign and am rather confused now..

So if you've read the book you know how Hobbes emphasizes the importance of government (and mainly the sovereign) to help avoid "state of nature=state of war". Yet should it be the case in every circumstance?

Suppose you look at a leader such as Hitler, what would Hobbes say? Would he qualify as his just sovereign? :perplexed:
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Victor Eremita
 
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Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 05:11 am
@Jacob phil,
The leader is supposed to avoid the state of nature. In return, you pledge yourself in service of the sovereign. If the leader abrogates that contract by threatening your life or engaging in uncivil activites, you can consider your contract with the sovereign void.

"Besides, if any one or more of them pretend a breach of the covenant made by the sovereign at his institution, and others or one other of his subjects, or himself alone, pretend there was no such breach, there is in this case no judge to decide the controversy: it returns therefore to the sword again; and every man recovereth the right of protecting himself by his own strength, contrary to the design they had in the institution."
Labyrinth
 
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Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 11:32 am
@Victor Eremita,
I was most struck by the force of the hold binding the Commonwealth together even though it may be met with an ignorant (according to Hobbes) denial.

Did anyone else see similarities between Hobbes' subject-to-subject agreement ("I'll surrender my absolute natural liberty to the sovereign if you do the same.") and Freud's fraternal libidinal ties in Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego? Hobbes describes this agreement being made when crossing over from absolute natural but miserable liberty in a state of war to the Commonwealth whereas Freud writes this is a libidinal tie made against self-love to unite citizens (its first instance being found in transition from the primal horde to totemistic society).

Far fetched? I too thought so and still do somewhat. However, Hobbes writes the heirless sovereign's death dissolves the Commonwealth. I was immediately reminded of Freud's description of an army's seemingly irrational rout upon the killing of their commander (even though they may have been handily bludgeoning their enemy up til that point). He thinks its the sudden shattering of the fraternal libidinal ties between fellow soldiers which to me sounded similar to the dissolution of the Commonwealth.
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kennethamy
 
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Reply Sat 25 Apr, 2009 01:00 am
@Jacob phil,
Jacob wrote:
Leviathan has been on my "to-read" list for who knows how long and I've finally started it this week.

I've just finished the part where he talks about the commonwealth and sovereign and am rather confused now..

So if you've read the book you know how Hobbes emphasizes the importance of government (and mainly the sovereign) to help avoid "state of nature=state of war". Yet should it be the case in every circumstance?

Suppose you look at a leader such as Hitler, what would Hobbes say? Would he qualify as his just sovereign? :perplexed:


Of course Hitler would not be a just sovereign. Why would you think he would? The first duty of a just sovereign is to protect his people. Once he tries to kill them, the contract between the people and him is violated.
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