Barnouw. Reason as Reckoning Hobbes's Natural Law as Right Reason.pdf

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Hobbes Studies 21 (2008) 38–62 © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI 10.1163/187502508X349585 Reason as Reckoning: Hobbes’s Natural Law as Right Reason Jeffrey Barnouw Professor, University of Texas at Austin, 705 Amphitheatre Drive, Del Mar, California 92014, USA E-mail: Abstract Hobbes conception of reason as computation or reckoning is significantly different in Part I of De Corpore (entitled Computatio sive Logica) from what I
  Hobbes Studies 21 (2008) 38–62© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI 10.1163/187502508X349585  Reason as Reckoning: Hobbes’s Natural Law as Right Reason  Jeffrey Barnouw Professor, University of exas at Austin, 705 Amphitheatre Drive, Del Mar, California 92014, USA E-mail:  Abstract Hobbes conception of reason as computation or reckoning is significantly different in Part I of De Corpore   (entitled Computatio sive Logica  ) from what I take to be the later treatment in Leviathan . In the late actual computation with words starts with making an affi rmation, framing a proposition. Reckoning then has to do with the consequences of propositions, or how they connect the facts, states of affairs or actions which they refer tor account. Starting from this it can be made clear how Hobbes understood the crucial application of this conception to natural law, identified as ‘right reason’. Keywords Hobbes; rationality; right reason; natural law; computation; reckoning   I. Introduction Hobbes defined reason as computation. Te title of Part I of De Corpore   is Computatio sive Logica   , ‘computation, that is to say, logic’. Tis suggests a ‘reduction to the essential’, which is intended to produce sharp clarity but, for many readers, has only brought about confusion. As with his various pro-nouncements that  x   ‘is nothing but motion’, rhetorical exaggeration, meant to clear the mind for a fresh perception, rather leads to premature rejection, fore-closing on the effort to determine what he is really maintaining. o make matters more diffi cult, Hobbes follows the practice of Bacon in giving new meanings to old terms, such as ‘right reason’ and ‘natural law’, as a way of replacing established doctrine.  Yet, for all its apparent radical novelty, the idea of reason as computing has a classical pedigree. In a number of his dialogues Plato developed a thematic opposition between perception and logos   , where the latter was basically   J. Barnouw / Hobbes Studies 21 (2008) 38–62 39   logismos    1  , calculation, that could avoid and overcome the relativity—the lack of bearings—of perception. In framing reason as computation Hobbes in fact first follows the lead of Aristotle (in De Corpore   and drafts of it going back to the mid-1640s if not to 1639) and, eventually, in Leviathan,  gives his account a more Stoic cast in line with the propositional logic developed by Chrysippus. In Dissertatio de arte combinatoria   Leibniz wrote, “Tat profoundest exam-iner of basic principles in all matters, Tomas Hobbes, correctly proposed that every operation of our minds is a computation.” 2  In that work Leibniz cites Part I, chapter 5 of De Corpore   for Hobbes’s ideas on which sorts of terms can be linked in valid propositions. 3  (Hobbes’s own emphasis is on the various  ways in which incoherence and false propositions are generated by copulating names of sorts that cannot be predicated of one another.) Tis is generally  what Hobbes means by construing reason as reckoning, linking terms to make (true) propositions and linking propositions in syllogisms to arrive at (true) conclusions. Tis paper explores the mature Leviathan  version of this idea and one exten-sion or application of it, a perhaps unexpected aspect of such reckoning, his understanding of natural law as determined, that is, both arrived at and consti-tuted   , by right reason. Here too, in its finest presentation in Leviathan  , Hobbes  works out a version of natural law that seems to break sharply with traditional versions but au fond   reaches back into the often overlooked core of the early Greek Stoic (Chrysippean) natural law conception. o show this consonance  will be reserved for another paper. Tere are important differences between Hobbes’s two presentations of his idea of reason as computation in its (primary) logical aspect or application in De Corpore   (1655) and in Leviathan  (1651). Te treatment in De Corpore   , 1  In De Corpore   I.1.3 Hobbes uses the Greek term logizesthai   (in Greek characters) for what we do to “such things as we add or subtract,” adding “in which language also syllogizesthai   signifies to compute   , reason  , or reckon.  ” De Corpore   will be quoted in the srcinal 1656 translation, Concerning Body   , in which Hobbes is thought to have been closely involved. See Karl Schuhmann’s introduction to Tomas Hobbes, Elemente der Philosophie, Erste Abteilung. Der Körper   (Hamburg: Meiner, 1997), pp. lii-lxiv. 2   Te Correspondence of Tomas Hobbes   , ed. Noel Malcolm, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), II, 846, translating Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften  , (Darmstadt, 1925ff ), ser. 6, i, p. 194. 3  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Philosophical Papers and Letters   , ed. Leroy E. Loemker, (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1969 2  ), p. 82. Later Leibniz distanced himself from that early dissertation and criticized what he saw as Hobbes’s excessive nominalism, saying he failed to consider “that the reality of the definition does not depend upon our free choice and that not all concepts can be combined with each other,” ibid   ., p. 293.  40  J. Barnouw / Hobbes Studies 21 (2008) 38–62 although published later, was written earlier. While the approach in Leviathan  cannot be taken as superseding that in De Corpore   , it recasts the idea of rea-son as computation with an eye to the continuity, within Leviathan  , with its moral-political application. Tis accords with, and perhaps accounts for, the shift from an Aristotelian to a Stoic cast in his construing reason as computation. Tere is a closer connection for Hobbes than for most thinkers between the logical use of reason, as in science, and the social and political role of reason in knowing natural law. Indeed, he frames the latter as a special case of the former. Tus natural law as known by right reason is at the same time moral science. Te primary purpose of this essay is to understand these claims, to show their sense and plausibility. II. Reason as Reckoning Consequences in Hobbes’s Conception of Science  We must start with a sketch of what is most often (mis)taken to be the mature and final version of Hobbes’s idea of reason as computation. Te argument of De Corpore   begins with a definition. Philosophy is such knowledge of effects or appearances, as we acquire by true ratio-cination from the knowledge we have first of their causes or generation: And again, of such cause or generations as may be from knowing first their effects. (I.1.2) Reasoning moves from known cause or generation to effect or appearance, and conversely from known effect or appearance to probable (possible, “as may be”) cause or generation. At the beginning of chapter 6, “Of Method”, he var-ies this definition: now “appearances or apparent effects” are known “from the knowledge we have of some possible production or generation.” He distin-guishes this knowledge by way of causes from perceptual knowing (as in know-ing an apparent effect in itself) using Aristotle’s distinction of dioti   and hoti.   4  Te symmetry suggested by “possible” in the inference to the cause and the inference from the cause is brought out in yet another version of the defini-tion, in the opening of Part IV, “Physics, or the Phenomena of Nature,” and then shown to be misleading insofar as reasoning from effects or appearances (phenomena) can never be more than probable, whereas reasoning from a known cause or generation can produce certain knowledge.   4  Cf. Aristotle, Posterior Analytics   79a3-4, 14-16. If not mentioned otherwise, I use Te Complete Works of Aristotle   , 2 volumes, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).   J. Barnouw / Hobbes Studies 21 (2008) 38–62 41   5  See the discussion of verum factum  in Jeffrey Barnouw, “Vico and the Continuity of Science. Te Relation of his Epistemology to Bacon and Hobbes,” in Isis   , 71 (1980), 609-620. I have, in the first chapter, defined philosophy to be knowledge of effects acquired by true ratiocination, from knowledge first had of their causes and generation; and of such cause or generations as may be, from former knowledge of their effects or appearances   . Tere are, therefore, two methods of philosophy; one, from the generation of things to their possible effects; and the other, from their effects or appearances to some possible generation of the same. In the former of these the truth of the first principles of our ratiocination, namely definitions, is made and constituted by ourselves, whilst we consent and agree about the appellations of things. And this part I have finished in the foregoing chapters. […] I now enter upon the other part; which is the finding out by the appearance or effects of nature, which we know by sense, some way and means by which they may be, I do not say they are, generated. ( De Corpore   IV.25.1) Knowledge of effects by way of knowledge of some possible, ‘doable’ genera-tion has been called ‘maker’s knowledge’ or verum factum  . 5  We cannot know nature with the same certainty we know whatever we ourselves bring forth, including (for Hobbes) geometry and eventually perhaps the laws that consti-tute a civil state. In any case, knowledge of cause and effect is the core of rea-soning and reason. Back at the beginning of De Corpore   Hobbes follows his definition of philosophy with another. By Ratiocination, I mean computation  . Now to compute, is either to collect the sum of many things that are added together, or to know what remains when one thing is taken out of another. Ratiocination  , therefore, is the same with addition  and subtraction.   Te first illustration of this computing shows “how the conceptions of the mind are compounded.” “Without the use of words,” but using ideas which  will later be identified with and by appellations, we build up a compound notion of something perceived that is, first, seen from afar, a body, then ani-mated, then rational, and finally taken to be a man. Tis is all he has to say on computing until I.3.4, where the use of abstract names is said to “consist in this, that without them we cannot, for the most part, either reason, or compute the properties of bodies.” Abstract names also make possible “great abuse,” which comes from speaking of “accidents as if they might be sepa-rated from all bodies.” Hobbes says concrete names were invented before propositions but abstract names proceed from the copula of propositions. Tis is the source of   that confusion of words derived from the Latin verb est   , as essence   , essentiality   , entity   , entitative   , besides reality   , aliquiddity   , quiddity   , &c which could never have
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