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Hobbes’s Deceiving God: the Correspondence Between Thomas Hobbes and Rene Descartes

Description: In presenting their correspondence, I highlight the means in which Hobbes is able to divorce nature and politics in his philosophy. This is done by bringing to light Hobbes’s agreement with Descartes’s deceiving God argument. First, I demonstrate Hobbes’s hidden agreement with it by analyzing his objection to Descartes’s first Meditation. Second, I show that Hobbes and Descartes both retreat into consciousness in order to deal with the possibility of deception on the behalf of God. Third, I trace Hobbes’s rational justification for entertaining that very possibility. Fourth, I bring forward Hobbes’s certain principle, that God is incomprehensible. Fifth, I demonstrate Hobbes’s rationalization for rendering nature incomprehensible in turn. From this key insight, the differences between the two philosophers stand out more. Whereas Descartes rids himself of the possibility of a deceiving God, Hobbes does not. Sixth, I show that Descartes needs to rid himself of that possibility in order to have a basis for science, Hobbes’s science is such that he does not need to rid himself of that possibility. My investigation ends by considering both Hobbes’s and Descartes’s stance on nature, in relation to politics. I find that Hobbes’s principle is much more practical that Descartes’s principle. Hobbes’s principle is shown to be much more instructive and sustainable for human life. In conclusion, this analysis of the origins, principles, and orientation of the two philosopher’s thought brings forward the overarching question, whether the recovery of value and meaning is to be brought about in nature, or in civilization.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Gorescu, Gabriela
Partner: UNT Libraries

Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell

Description: Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell examines the Restoration and eighteenth-century libertine figure as it appears in John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester's Satyr against Mankind, "The Maim'd Debauchee," and "Upon His Drinking a Bowl," Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine, William Wycherley's The Country Wife, and James Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763. I argue that the limitations and self-contradictions of standard definitions of libertinism and the ways in which libertine protagonists and libertinism in general function as critiques of libertinism. Moreover, libertine protagonists and poetic personae reinterpret libertinism to accommodate their personal agendas and in doing so, satirize the idea of libertinism itself and identify the problematization of "libertinism" as a category of gender and social identity. That is, these libertines misinterpret-often deliberately-Hobbes to justify their opposition and refusal to obey social institutions-e.g., eventually marrying and engaging in a monogamous relationship with one's wife-as well as their endorsement of obedience to nature or sense, which can include embracing a libertine lifestyle in which one engages in sexual encounters with multiple partners, refuses marriage, and questions the existence of God or at least distrusts any sort of organized religion. Since any attempts to define the word "libertinism"-or at least any attempts to provide a standard definition of the word-are tenuous at best, it is equally tenuous to suggest that any libertines conform to conventional or standard libertinism. In fact, the literary and "real life" libertines in this study not only fail to conform to such definitions of libertinism, but also reinterpret libertinism. While all these libertines do possess similar characteristics-namely affluence, insatiable sexual appetites, and a rebellion against institutional authorities (the Church, reason, government, family, and marriage)-they often misinterpret libertinism, reason, and Hobbesian philosophy. Furthermore, they all choose different, unique ways to oppose patriarchal, social authorities. These aberrant ways ...
Date: May 2008
Creator: Smith, Victoria
Partner: UNT Libraries

Acting Ethically: Behavior and the Sustainable Society

Description: One of the most important factors for creating the sustainable society is that the individuals in that society behave in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Yet achieving appropriate behavior in any society is difficult, and the challenge is no less with regards to sustainability. Three of the most important factors for determining behavior have recently been highlighted by psychologists: personal efficacy, social influence, and internal standards. Because these three factors play a prominent role in behavior, it is necessary to examine what role they play in creating sustainability and how they may be utilized to achieve optimal behavior patterns. Ultimately, in order to achieve sustainability solutions must focus on individual action, realistic governmental regulation, and sustained, direct encounters with the natural world. While much time and energy has been spent on social influence and personal efficacy, less has been devoted to internal standards and this area needs more attention if there is to be any realistic attempt at creating proper behavior patterns.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Sewell, Patrick
Partner: UNT Libraries

New Wine in Old Wineskins: Hobbes’s Use and Abuse of Religious Rhetoric

Description: Thomas Hobbes’s knowledge of religious doctrine, typology, and use religious rhetoric in his writings is often glossed over in an over-eager attempt to establish his preeminence as a founder of modern political theory and the social contract tradition. Such action, however is an injustice to Hobbes himself, who recognized that in order to establish a new, and arguably radical, political position founded upon reason and nominalist materialism he had to reform people’s understanding of religious revelation, and Christianity specifically. Rather than merely move to a new epistemological foundation, Hobbes was aware that the only way to ensure religion does become a phoenix was to examine and undermine the foundations of religious thought in its own terms. This reformation of religious language, critique of Christianity, and attempt to eliminate man’s belief in their obligation to God was done in order to promote a civil society in which religion was servant of the state. Through reforming religious language, Hobbes was able to demote religion as a worldview; removing man’s fear of the afterlife or obligation to obey God over a civil sovereign. Religious doctrine no longer was in competition with the civil state, but is transformed into a tool of the state, one which philosophically founds the modern arguments for religious toleration.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Higgins, Nicholas J
Partner: UNT Libraries