Leviathan or the Discourse on Human Infallibility

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In the separation colloquy and Eve's later conversation with Satan, Milton explores the motive of fear of violent death. By the opening of book 9 Adam and Eve have been instructed about God's prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge, and the threatened punishment of death. They have been instructed, that is, about their implicit contract with God, according to which Eden is theirs in exchange for their obedience.

The angel Raphael has also warned Adam and Eve about the "foe" who "seeks to work So, from the outset, although the Garden of Eden is not the Hobbesian state of nature, and the fear of divine punishment is not the same as the Hobbesian fear of violent death, nevertheless Adam and Eve's fear of death is presented as a possible motive of obedience, a spur to fulfilling their obligations. What I want to suggest by looking closely at the separation colloquy is that this fear can be read in two opposed ways.


Although from one theologically correct perspective the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, from another Miltonic perspective fear amounts to a kind of Hobbesian coercion. Milton rejects this negative passion of fear. And yet, the passion of love in particular proves to be a constraint as well as a motive. To put it another way, love proves to be a motive because it is grounded in the specific constraints of being human. In the course of elaborating her arguments for working in the Garden apart from Adam and in her later encounter with Satan, Eve briefly illustrates the problem of the Hobbesian state of nature.

Initially, by her own account, she is motivated by both fear and vainglory: she is the Hobbesian individual who, in seeking to be better prepared against the vainglorious aggressor, becomes vainglorious herself.

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Here and later in her remarks about the Tree of Knowledge, Eve thinks of faith as a matter of heroic deeds that need to be "approved" 9. The narrator makes it clear that Eve's seeking approval is the kind of self-aggrandizement Hobbes criticized in Leviathan.

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Out of her sense of lack, her desire for an audience, perhaps even her sense that cooperative gardening was not quite what she had in mind as "proof of her faith, Eve generates her own vainglorious plot of adventure. Eve's Christian demonstration of her faith is touched by elements of emulation and display, rivalry and theatricality, rivaling above all an older, more exciting idiom of chivalric faith and honor. In her musings, this romance plot of adventure eventually encompasses Adam. Specifically, by offering Adam a "glorious trial of exceeding Love" 9.

What's crucial for us is that Milton doesn't simply condemn this desire for a kind of martial glory as Hobbes does, but also asks us to take it seriously. And he does so by giving Eve his best lines from Areopagitica about the necessity of exercising one's will and of not withdrawing from the contest of virtue. Many there be that complain of divin Providence for suffering Adam to transgresse, foolish tongues! We our selves esteem not that of obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force: God therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object, even almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence.

Wherefore die [God] creat passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that these rightly tempered are the very ingredients of vertu? In contrast, Milton asks us to take Eve's desire for glory seriously by questioning the negative motive of fear. First we are told that Eve is not in fact motivated by fear, and then Satan argues that, even if she were, she shouldn't be. Satan describes God's prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge as a threat of violent death, and then proceeds to argue that fear of death amounts to illegitimate duress: "your fear itself of Death removes the fear," he tells Eve 9.

It's as though Satan were encouraging Eve by arguing: "You're right not to fall for that Hobbesian argument about fear of violent death or self-preservation as a motive for obedience, a motive for voluntary subjection to Adam and to God. Fear is coercive, and voluntary subjection prohibits coercion. What I want to suggest now is that this is true in some ways for Milton, speaking through Eve, as well.

Eve repeats Satan's arguments against the fear of death when she reasons about the Tree of Knowledge. In fact, one might say that Satan's achievement is to have persuaded Eve to think of the righteous fear of God as a form of servility, or illegitimate coercion.

Musing about God's commandment, Eve tells herself: "Such prohibitions bind not" 9. Here Eve is obviously trying to make sense of the way in which God's prohibition does bind and she responds to her own question with a kind of Hobbesian literalism: she is not physically constrained and so, she concludes, not actually bound.

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For Eve this is a rhetorical question: according to her, freedom cannot coexist with the threat of force. But what does Milton intend for us to understand by Eve's question? I believe that Eve is not only right in a Hobbesian way that nothing physically "hinders" her from eating from the Tree of Knowledge 9. She is also right in a Miltonic way, that is, in terms of Milton's defense of free will: God, Raphael, and Adam all tell us the prohibition is not a tyrant's command but a "sign" of the moral law.

The prohibition is in short the sign or seal of a contract to which Eve is supposed implicitly to have consented by virtue of her rationality. But, what kind of contract is it that one may never legitimately break?

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And what kind of contract is it whose breach is punished by death? These are the questions Eve ventriloquizes for Milton and his contemporaries. Here we begin to see that Eve's arguments are not simply Satanic and therefore flawed. They don't simply exemplify the Hobbesian and Satanic problem of self-love and self-aggrandizement or the restless seeking after power.

They also articulate the insight that consent to the heavenly contract might very well feel like coercion or the Hobbesian fear of violent death. They articulate, that is, the felt antinomy between consent and coercion, or at the very least voluntarism and rationalism, in the heavenly contract. The second conclusion is that God is not a Hobbesian sovereign, and so he must, by the logic of contract, divest himself of his absolute sovereignty.

Squashed Philosophers - Hobbes - Leviathan

If Eve's deliberations raise the possibility that the moral law involves a kind of coercion, Adam's fall enacts a different drama of coercion and consent. In contrast to Eve's meditation on fear, Adam meditates on love. In contrast to her musings about the constraints of the divine prohibition, Adam debates about his physical and emotional bond with Eve.

In these and other ways, Adam has internalized Eve's version of adventure and coercion; he has collapsed her heroic "desire of wand'ring" 9. Adam's reasoning is self-cancelling. On the one hand, his rhetoric echoes manuals of domestic duties, where the husband is enjoined to love his wife as a second self.

And eventually, which theory after all is the one most fitting the facts? Answering the questions, I will argue that the myth is used over the whole discourse, concerning September Instead of speaking of different discourses, one should more precisely say that there is only one huge discourse with different outgrowths and directions. The various arguments are closely linked. Sometimes even opponents use Huntington as their basis in different ways. It will be argued that, what causes the clash is not just difference — as Huntington suggests — but the vain attempt to create equality.

This is the basis for all arguments with regard to September However, if creating equality is the cause of the terrorist attack, it is neither the existence of different cultures, the powerful behaviour of the US nor the violent roots within the Muslim world which can account for the reason of the terrorist attacks.

It is in fact the process of globalisation and the consequential disappearance of cultural power which causes the actual problem. To support my argument I first want to explain, how Huntington himself brings in his thesis in the post-September 11 discourse. Secondly, I deal with the different possibilities of how to behave after the attacks both in the Western and the Islam culture and whether these different solutions are based on Huntington or not. Interestingly, all are based on the problem of globalisation and that trying and not being successful to create economic equality causes difficulties.

Through the desire to help, and shocked speechlessness after the assaults of September 11, people all over the world tried to find logical and useful explanations for what has happened through handy formulas.

The first priority for our government is to try to prevent it from becoming one. Hence, as Huntington even puts it himself, bin Laden wants exactly the same, Huntington foresaw with his thesis eight years ago. I would venture to go a step further, arguing that in reference to Huntington, after the attack, people speak of the events as a clash between the Islam and the West, and therefore in turn help bin Laden with the help of Huntington to attain his goal of polarisation.

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Interestingly, Huntington himself now makes exactly the mistake, he warned of before. Although he knows, that this intention would not be easily realisable, he does not come up with any other possibility to bring democracy to the Middle East. Anglistik - Kultur und Landeskunde. However, there is one major hole in this theory that Hobbes cleverly evades: what is the initial motion and what triggers the initial motion. This first section of Leviathan is important as a foundation for the rest of the book. It ingeniously sets up his favored way of thinking and reasoning by providing an example within the philosophy forcing the reader to think deductively.

In order to reach the conclusion, the reader must first comprehend the deduced conclusions along the way. Also, Hobbes method of reasoning is significantly centered on the existence and importance of the natural world and human ability to perceive it. This philosophy of the mechanics of the human mind is an interesting fusion of natural science, biological science, and psychological science, all dependent on one another for the conclusion.

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Hobbes suggests that speech was invented as a continuance of the transfer of motion, to put mental discourse into verbal discourse. Once again, the law of inertia applies; trains of thought are transferred into words that are then transferred into verbal dialogue that initiates an entirely separate train of thought in another mind. Next, Hobbes describes four uses of speech and four abuses of speech. The uses of speech are: 1 they allow humans to record knowledge which adds to the acquisition and preservation of arts.

Hobbes next warns about the potential abuses of speech: 1 potential for careless signification; definitions may shift if words are used improperly or out of context.

"Leviathan" or the Discourse on Human Infallibility

About the necessity of definitions he says,. Seeing that truth consisteth in the right ordering of names in our affirmations, a man that seeketh precise truth had need to remember what every name he uses stands for, and to place it accordingly, or else he will find himself entangled in words, as a bird in lime twigs, the more he struggles the more belimed.

And therefore in geometry, which is the only science that it hath pleased God hitherto to bestow on mankind, men begin at settling the significations of their words; which settling of significations they call definitions, and place them in the beginning of their reckoning. Because everyone agreed on them, there is no room for conflict or dispute. In this assertion, Hobbes now partially fills the hole he left in his first section on the mechanics of the mind; it becomes clear that precise definitions of words are the foundations of the first principles of every thought process. This section on speech also gives rise to another important premise: truth is a social construction.

Since definitions are the first principles of every thought process, and society not only establishes the definitions of words but also approves them as a group; therefore, conclusions are valid because society creates them. Hobbes also sees positive political ramifications in this method of establishing words as the foundation of reason.

Because society approves the definitions as a unit, they are making governmental decisions together in a productive, peaceful manner. Thus, the prerequisite for common approval of words as the foundation of reason leads to civil peace and productivity. However, this conclusion leads to another hole in his argument: how to achieve social consent of the definitions.

Because Hobbes believes knowledge cannot be found through an exploration of nature due to the fact that nature is perceived subjectively by each individual, Hobbes eventually comes to the conclusion that definitions must be established by an arbitrator who he identifies later in the book.

The institution of an all-powerful judge who has complete control over the foundations of reason is an extreme proposition. In order to get to truth, one must perfectly engage reason to first obtain knowledge. Thus, the purpose for engaging reason is known: in pursuit of certainty.