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Låt oss skapa människan!: stratifieringsprocesser i Thomas Hobbes' filosofi
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Literature and History of Ideas, History of Ideas.
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Let Us Make Man! : Processes of Stratification in the Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes (English)
Abstract [en]

To shed light on a number of paradoxes in Hobbes’s theory, I use a series of concepts culled from the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995). Deleuze distinguishes two different ways of doing philosophy: One is the dominant mode in Western tradition, which Deleuze names "State Philosophy", which emphasises identity and universals and serves to confirm and justify the powers that be. Deleuze’s alternative way of doing philosophy emphasises difference rather than unity and sameness. Deleuze labels this kind of philosophy nomad thought. Hobbes is torn between these two ways of thinking, but tends overall towards a State Philosophy.

To show exactly how these forces clash in Hobbes’s philosophy I compare Hobbes to the Aristotelian methodologist Jacopo Zabarella (1533-1589). Zabarella develops a method of proving a fact by moving from knowledge of the mere fact to an understanding of the fact through its cause. Hobbes uses a similar method, especially in the argument from the condition of nature.

There is an ambiguity in Hobbes’s concept of truth, however, between his explicit coherence theory and implicit correspondence theory of truth. To explain this paradox I avail myself of Michel Foucault’s theory of the episteme of the Classical age in The Order of Things. This implicit conception of a given order (or "virtual ontology") is what structures Hobbes’s philosophy and makes knowing possible. Within the bounds of this order both a conventionalist and a realist stance are possible.

All concepts, being constituted through experience, are particular and subjective, which raises the question of how Hobbes explains the creation of universal names. The Aristotelian answer, that the active intellect discerns the universal in the particular, is not compatible with Hobbes’s strictly materialist and nominalist metaphysics. Hobbes’s implicit presupposition is that reality is structured so that similar things cause similar impressions on all observers given the same conditions.

Hobbes describes man as prey to many and shifting passions. Still, he makes it clear that it is the duty of every man to order his or her passions as to have one constant and rational will. The urge towards self-preservation serves to constitute the unified self, specifically a male self.

In Hobbes’s view, religion arises out of human imagination and the emotions of hope and fear. At the same time Hobbes’s God is above all a lawgiver and the guarantor of morals. It is because the laws of nature are divine laws that they are unconditionally binding. All of Hobbes’s philosophy is actually concerned with creating molar individuals that are capable of making and keeping promises.

On every account, from metaphysics over epistemology and the theory of the mind to ethics, theology and political philosophy, Hobbes simultaneously evinces traits of a nomad philosopher as well as a State philosopher, but the tendency towards State philosophy tends to get the upper hand, even though the tension always remains. Understanding this tension also sheds a new light upon many of the paradoxes of Hobbes’s philosophy. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International , 2001. , 233 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in the history of ideas, ISSN 1100-9667 ; 5
Keyword [en]
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Jacopo Zabarella (1533-1578), Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), materialism, empiricism, nominalism, nomad thought, Classical episteme, stratification
National Category
Humanities
Research subject
History of Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-81135ISBN: 91-22-01924-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-81135DiVA: diva2:559777
Public defence
2001-06-01, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Available from: 2012-10-10 Created: 2012-10-10 Last updated: 2017-09-28Bibliographically approved

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