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    Daniel Kapust, Hobbes, Lucretius, and the Political Psychology of Peace

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 18908
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Daniel Kapust, Hobbes, Lucretius, and the Political Psychology of Peace Empty Daniel Kapust, Hobbes, Lucretius, and the Political Psychology of Peace

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Mer 5 Juil - 14:44

    "There was no shortage of Hobbes’s contemporaries who accused him of being an Epicurean or a follower of Lucretius."

    "Hobbes himself cites and directly engages with Lucretius, citation and engagement that are noteworthy in no small part because Hobbes does not always cite his sources.
    He mentions Lucretius by name and quotes the poem in his discussion and criticism of Lucretius’ account of vacuum in his Elements of Philosophy, Part IV, Chapter XXVI. Hobbes also mentions Lucretius in The Answer to the Preface to Gondibert, remarking that Lucretius is mistaken for apoet, when he (and Empedocles) are in fact ‘natural philosophers’."

    "Hobbes was close to both Mersenne and Gassendi while in exile in France, and each of them was instrumental in helping to spread Epicurean philosophy. So close were they that Gassendi wrote a letter prefaced to a printing of De Cive [...] Hobbes in fact read,in the fall of 1644, a draft of Gassendi’s Animadversions on the Tenth Book of Diogenes Laertius Concerning the Life, Morals, and Sentiments of Epicurus, and would know Lucretius by at least 1644."

    "Hobbes is alluding to Lucretius in Chapter 46 of Leviathan when he mentions primitive humans feeding ‘on Akorns’."

    "Some have remarked upon similarities in their thought –their hedonism, the political role of religion (and religion’s root in fear), their discussion of man’s pre- (and a-) political state – while other have remarked upon certain differences, such as Hobbes’ rejection of ataraxia, Hobbes’corpuscularism and plenism, and Lucretius’ effort to minimize the fear of deathas opposed to Hobbes’s effort to maximize the fear of death (or at least not tominimize the fear of death at the individual level)." (pp.8-9)

    "A crucial difference between the two writers has not been addressed : Lucretius’ deployment of a stadial and (quasi) historical account of human development from our natural state as opposed to Hobbes’ use of a non-stadial and ahistorical account of our natural state. [...]

    Both writers lived through times of political tumult (a truism of Hobbes scholarship is that the English Civil War and the years leading up to it profoundly shaped his thought), and both writers sought, in their writings, to diagnose and treat the causes of political instability and violence. Yet while bothwriters are concerned with fostering peace, their strategies for doing so, I argue, are strikingly different, and those differences center on their divergent accounts of the state of nature (Hobbes’s ‘naturall condition of mankind’). Lucretius’ state of nature is quasi-historical and stadial, demonstrating the emergence of human socio-linguistic orders and passions through a naturally spontaneous process;Hobbes’ state of nature is more hypothetical than historical, depicting as natural the very passions that are historically immanent in Lucretius." (pp.10-11)

    "A key claim, in Lucretius’ various explanations of natural phenomena, is not that the world is disorderly, but that the natural world’s order is not a function of providence or design." (p.14)

    "The fear of death is not only a source of unhappiness for the individual, butalso causes humans to engage in pathological behavior: ‘avarice and blind lust for status (
    avarities et honorum caeca cupido), which drive wretched people (miseros homines) to encroach beyond the boundaries of right and sometimes, as accomplices and abettors of crime, to strive night and day with prodigious effort to scale the summit of wealth – these sores of life are nourished in no small degree bydread of death (mortis formidine). Desiring ‘enjoyment and security’ (dulci vitastabilique), people pursue wealth and status as their opposites – ‘humble positionand the sting of penury’ – remind them of the death they fear from ‘unfounded terror’. Such fearful people will even pursue wealth through ‘the bloodshed of civil war’ –sanguine civili." (pp.14-15)

    "Having neither fire nor clothing, ‘unable to look to the common interest (commune bonum)’ and lacking knowledge of the mutual benefits of any customs (moribus) or laws (legibus)’, the earliest humans were ‘trained…to live and use their strength for themselvesalone’. Without worldly or other-worldly masters, self-preservation is the name of the game, and these humans do not possess false beliefs that drive them to act inways that do not accord with nature. A greater source of worry (curae) at night than celestial phenomena was potential predation from wild animals, and when they didmaterialize, ‘they would flee panic-stricken (paventes) from their rocky shelters’. Here, humans fear not simply death, but a violent  death, though they fear a violentdeath at first due to the predation of non-human animals; as Paganini notes, ‘it is…the danger represented by wild animals that constitutes the primitive impulseto form the first aggregations’, and this fear does not prevent them from acting bytheir own accord (sponte sua). Not all fear, then, is pathological: as Hammerremarks, ‘humans, like other animals, try to avoid dying’. The difference betweenthis sort of salutary fear and the sort of fear that leads us to want fame and wealth is that the latter entails the pursuit ‘not of real things but of false opinions’, which are incompatible with a spontaneous existence." (pp.17-18)

    "Had they not formed such pacts, on Lucretius’ view, humanity wouldhave ‘been entirely extinguished’ before it even developed anything like acomplete language.

    Lucretius’ hypothetical history of language – whereby it develops in a naturalistic way through ‘their power of voice (vox) and tongue (lingua)’– follows this second stage. Lucretius rejects the view that an individual created languageand taught others its use. Instead, he provides a naturalistic account of the originsof language that is distinct from the origins of human society, holding ‘As for the various sounds of speech, it was nature that prompted human beings to utter them,and it was utility that coined the names of things’. The process was akin, onLucretius’ view, to infants pointing ‘with the finger at objects around them’. As humans had ‘the power of voice (vox) and tongue (lingua)’, they, like ‘domesticanimals and the species of wild beasts’, made different noises to signify ‘differentfeelings’ and ‘different things’. Just as non-human animals can ‘utter varioussounds expressive of various feelings’ so, too, would primitive humans ‘havebeen able to designate different things by different sounds’. Human language isthus different from animal communication in degree rather than in kind, andlanguage would have emerged spontaneously in a decentralized fashion."(pp.19-20)

    "Lucretius suggests ‘it is far better to live peacefully as a subject than to desire the dominion of states (regere imperio res) and the control of kingdoms (regna tenere). This is a striking moment: if humans did not (erroneously) seek powerto achieve stability and avoid death, they would be better off." (p.21)

    "The sort of fear that requires that humans be subject to (cecidit) laws only emerges as the result of a complex set of historical development, though in that moment, Lucretius’ humans have a decidedly ‘Hobbesian’ quality and corresponding willingness to submit to coercion. Given this fear, Lucretius explains humanity’sweariness as a result of the tendency ‘to exact vengeance more cruelly (ex ira) than is now allowed by equitable laws’ due to anger (ira). From that pointonward, the ‘fear of punishment (metus… poenarum) has poisoned the blessings (praemia) of life’. Even if Lucretius is a sort of republican, as Hammer suggests, there is certainly a sense in which the world might be better if we wereall well-taught, and hence less in need of being ruled." (p.23)

    "Desiring the wrong objects – wealth, fame, and power/security – due to themisguided fear of death brings about civil warfare and necessitates the creation ofa regime based on ‘fear of punishment’, fear which ‘has poisoned the blessings of life’. [...] Lacking our pathological craving for these false goods, humans could– and did – live in a peaceful order without authoritarian centralization ; vera ratio might yet bring us closer to what we have lost." (pp.24-25)

    "Hobbes does not tell us when this condition began, what preceded it, or preciselywhen it ended; indeed, after describing ‘the naturall condition of mankind’, whichturns out to be ‘the time men live without a common Power to keep them all inawe’, he states that he believes the world ‘was never generally so’." (p.27)

    "Hobbes hones in on three particular passions – and their objects – that giverise to quarrel, passions rooted ‘in the nature of man’ (in Natura humana in the Latin). These passions (competition, diffidence, glory) correspond to thoseLucretius hones in on as responsible for civil war, but unlike Lucretius, Hobbesdoes not locate their origins in erroneous beliefs about nature or their emergenceat distinct historical moments. Each prompts us to fight for a specific cause:competition for ‘Gain’, diffidence for ‘Safety’, and glory for ‘Reputation’. Or, as he puts it in Latin, Competitio, Defensio, Gloria’, the object of competition being Dominium (of both property and persons), defense being ‘ Securitatem’, and glory being ‘ Famam’." (p.28)

    "Rousseau, of course, would (in a Lucretian vein) suggest in the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality among Men that Hobbes is in effect importing the products of society into nature, and making the effect into the cause ; Hobbes could well respond, as do some of his readers, that he is less interested in explaining how we became social than in illustrating what happenswhen states break down and why we should not let them, given the risk of a painful and violent death." (p.28)

    "[Hobbes] suggests that the seed of Religion is to be found in humans alone, identifying three causes: the desire to know causes, ‘the consideration of the Beginning of things’, and theperception of consequences. The first two combine to produce ‘Anxiety’, with Hobbes famously likening ‘Every man, especially those that are over provident’, to Prometheus, with our hearts ‘gnawed on by fear of death (a metu Mortis), poverty, or other calamity’, just as Prometheus dreaded the daily gnawing of his liver. Faced with ‘perpetuall feare’ (metus perpetuus), humans ‘must needs have for object something’, and thus imagine ‘some Power  or Agent Invisible". The  fear of death – even of the non-violent variety - is substantial enough, for Hobbes,that he refers to it as a cause of perpetual anxiety, giving ‘no repose, nor pause ofhis anxiety, but in sleep (vel curis aliis mordacibus sine intermissione)’. The religion rooted in the fear of death (and other evils), in Chapter 12, is in fact political; Hobbes notes its use among ‘the first Founders, and Legislators of Commonwealths’ who made religion ‘a part of their Policy’, using it to ruletheir populations more effectively. Moving back, given this discussion, to Chapter 13, Hobbes not say deny there that we fear death in the natural condition, per se;rather, he emphasizes violent death as ‘worst of all’, or more properly, the‘continuall feare, and danger of violent death." (pp.28-29)

    "Hobbes, unorthodox as he is in so many of his scriptural allusions, is oddly conventional when it comes to language: ‘The first author of Speech (Sermonis)was God himself, that instructed Adam how to name such creatures as hepresented to his sight; For the Scripture goeth no further in this matter’. Hobbes suggests, of course, that Adam would then have created ‘more names’, and then Adam would develop increasingly elaborate means of expressing himself. Just as Hobbes posits the ‘speaking Adam’ model, he denies that ‘SPEECH’ (sermo, in the Latin) shares an affinity with the communication of non-human animals: absent speech, ‘there had been amongst men, neither Common-wealth, norSociety, nor Contract, nor Peace, no more than amongst Lyons, Bears, and Wolves’. The Adamic language, developed further by his posterity, was ‘lost atthe tower of Babe’, and replaced with a ‘diversity of Tongues’ due to man’s rebellion’." (p.31)

    "Humans may have speech, which animals lack, but simply having speech does not yield agreement because some names ‘have a signification also of the nature, disposition, and interest of the speaker’. Disagreement about names, as we see in Chapter 5, can cause those who disagree to ‘come to blowes’ because there is no ‘right Reason constituted by Nature’. Language is infected by the human craving for positional goods, just as language constitutes our understanding of positionality. This difference between Hobbes and Lucretius illuminates a key consequence of the desire for positional goods in Hobbes’s account, goods whose values derive from ‘a position of superiority in relation to others on matters involving power and the acknowledgement of power’." (p.32)

    "Fear of death undermined prior forms of spontaneous agreement, for Lucretius; for Hobbes, fear of violent death makes agreement possible in light of the disagreement sown into both language and human nature." (p.34)

    "Animals are not name-using creatures, and in this regard, the causes of human quarrel are sown not just by conditions of scarcity, but in the very linguistic tools that separate humans from other animals: the use of names and their concomitant relationship to human passions and affections." (p.37)

    "Honor, in particular, is a good that humans will risk their lives to attain, and there are harms that outweigh death, such as torture. In astriking argument building, in part, on the recognition that the fear of death is not sufficient in itself to restrain all humans for Hobbes, Abizadeh has suggested thatthe fear of death is not to be understood as explaining why we enter into political association (again, a distinction between Hobbes and Lucretius), but rather helping to explain why we ‘stay in political society’. The problem that political society poses, in effect, is that it contributes to ‘reason’s breakdown’, fostering the tendency of ‘prickly humans’ to react with violence to ‘expressed disagreement’. Precisely because humans are at peace, they lose sight of theprecariousness of peace" (p.38)

    "Securing peace – ‘all men agree on this, that Peace is Good’ – requires that humans fix their gaze on death, no matter how distant, by steadily looking through the prospective glasses’ of ‘Civill science…to see a farre off the miseries that hangover them’ in the state of nature’." (pp.39-40)

    "The key, for Hobbes, is to maintain circumstances that incline humans to fear violent death above all." (p.40)

    "Hobbes wasalso a mortalist (as was Lucretius), remarking in Chapter 38 of Leviathan ‘That the Soul of man is in its own nature Eternall, and a living Creature independent of the body ; or that any meer man is Immortall, otherwise than by the Resurrection in the last day…is a doctrine not apparent in Scripture’. Conventionalism, egalitarianism, mortalism: these could combine to form a decidedly non-authoritarian political theory, as they did in 1640s England. In particular, Richard Overton, a prominent Leveler (and hence radical critic of monarchy) penned awork in 1643 with the full (and explanatory) title MANS MORTALLITIE." (p.43)

    "If Lucretius is right about the pre-history of humans, not only is the Hobbesian state of nature a rather crude simplification, but it would lose some of its persuasive force. That is, if it is the case that humans can achieve social coordination prior to the institution of a full-fledged sovereign possessing the power to punish and authorized by human beings at war with each other due to their desire for fame, glory, and security, then a more decentralized and certainly less authoritarian model of political association than the one Hobbes proposes could be in order. Epicureanism need not lead to the leviathan. Just as Hobbes dismissed the possibility of widespread performance of covenants based on pride (as opposed to fear) in Chapter 14, Hobbes dismisses, in Chapter 17,the possibility of ‘Peace without subjection’ because he does not think it likely for ‘a great Multitude of men to consent in the observation of Justice’ without a power to keep them ‘in awe’. Lucretius proposes just such a situation, as we have seen, imagining that social restraints and affections can lead sufficient numbers of humans to keep their agreements (foedera at V.1025) to prevent the human race from going extinct. It is worth recalling, too, that Lucretius’ narrative of human development gives rise to political institutions that are, in the end, limited ; absent suchl imitations, one can imagine that humans would be just as terrified of their earthly rulers as they would be of the gods if the gods –beings of tremendous power– were involved in the human world." (pp.44-45)
    -Daniel Kapust, Hobbes, Lucretius, and the Political Psychology of Peace : https://www.academia.edu/36103150/Hobbes_Lucretius_and_the_Political_Psychology_of_Peace_Accepted_manuscript_pre_production_

    "Good, and Evill, are names that signifie our Appetites, and Aversions ; which in different tempers, customes, and doctrines of men, are different : And diverse men, differ not onely in their Judgement on the senses, of what is pleasant, and unpleasant to the tast, smell, hearing, touch, and sight; but also of what is conformable, or disagreeable to Reason, in the actions of common life… From whence arises Disputes, Controversies, and at last War."
    -Thomas Hobbes, Léviathan.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. » -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. » -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

    « Mais parfois le plus clair regard aime aussi l’ombre. » -Friedrich Hölderlin, "Pain et Vin".

      La date/heure actuelle est Ven 23 Fév - 3:05