Thomas Hobbes – “Leviathan” (excerpts)

The first excerpt from the major work of political philosophy starts promisingly: Hobbes claims that all life is just motion and therefore mechanical animals are just as alive as real animals. (Descartes wrote something similar, but the other way round – the animals are just complex machines.) Which leads to all the sort of interesting thoughts about what Hobbes would make of Blade Runner, but also if life is “but a motion of limbs”, then does it mean a clock is “alive” according to this definition as well? But that is just my digression, because Hobbes uses it to segue to another thought: “that great Leviathan called a Commonwealth or State” is like a huge artificial man, whose all members correspond to various parts of the body. So people employed in the legal system are like the joints, the system of reward and punishment stands for the nerves, the individual wealth of all the members of society are like the body’s strength and so on. Despite the fact that Hobbes was widely suspected of being an atheist, he mentions God in this short excerpt twice: as the creator of the world, and the pacts and covenants through which the body politic is formed are compared to the words with which God created first man.

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