Western Thought for Class Clowns and Erstwhile Nationalists

Leviathan (Introduction)

Having gotten my head handed to me the last time we discussed Hobbes' introduction, I think I should play the back this time. With that said, I do want to highlight one comment from last week. I think it says a lot about Hobbes' approach, which he lays out in his Introduction:


Hobbes is trying to make an argument about statecraft, and is arguing (implicitly, at least) that you cannot learn from historical example. Instead of studying great leaders and great nations of the past or in the present - such as Machiavelli for instance constantly does - one should look inward, and try to deduct the nature of man from a reflection upon one's own nature. He is, one could say, an anti-historical thinker, and this is him articulating why he is so. 

And this is more or less what Hobbes does in Leviathan. Instead of studying former, stable states, he makes an argument about the nature of man, the nature of passions and the nature of language - and from that basis, he constructs an argument regarding the kind of political organization which is necessary to create a politically stable state.
The word that springs to mind for me is "theorycraft," though perhaps of the highest order. I hope this conversation continues into the weekend. I will promote at the end of each day to keep it going.

OK. On y va...
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in National

From This Author

Just In