Hobbesian bargain of internet security.

To keep us safe on the internet the Leviathan asks for more civil power.

The University welcomed another professor today, Michael Le Buffe, from the University of Texas.  A professor of philosophy interested in Spinoza, he addressed his audience on Hobbes, an author of 20 volumes from the English Civil War period, whom he rates as between Melville and Eliot in literature.

Condensing Hobbes from 20 volumes down to a pocket-sized version requires:

  1. We get a pocket Hobbes right
  2. We make a pocket Hobbes useful

Back Pocket Hobbes says: I desire my preservation, and the Other desires its preservation − conflict is inevitable.  We create the artificial man, Leviathan, and submit to his authority for our preservation.

Peace is inevitable.  We all follow the same means to peace, the artificial man.  We get sick and die, the artificial man is immortal.

Hip Pocket Hobbes says: Fear motivates us, fear of death, feath of the invisible powers.  Conflict arises from unpredictability.  Hip Pocket Hobbes is aware that there are Other Leviathans and they are a threat to us.  (In Hobbes’ time the Other Leviathan was Catholic France, the enemy of the disputing English sects.)

Back Pocket Hobbes ignores religion and society, the powers invisible.  (Maybe in modern society these include more than religion and superstition.  Big ideas and isms have become the new powers and principalities.)

Fear of Power Invisible threatens the sovereign, a rival party to the artificial man.  The invisible powers invite obedience that is the office of the sovereign, a different motive than the state, inviting chaos.  This might explain the actions of the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, kidnapping several hundred school girls.  They don’t recognise the civil sovereign.

And in Ukraine two emerging Leviathans within the state move into conflict with each other.

Absolute civil power is not absolute for peace.  Civil authority is limited if it is not embedded in civil right and ecclesiastical right (whatever the invisible power may be.)

It’s not usually the practice to have questions at an inaugural professorial lecture.  A shame.  I would have liked to have heard this lecture questioned and tested by others.

Thomas Hobbes and John Calvin by Space Coyote. Just because.