By Michael Oakeshott
Of Michael Oakeshott and his curiosity in Thomas Hobbes, Professor Paul Franco has written, "The topics Oakeshott stresses in his interpretation of Hobbes are...scepticism concerning the function of cause in politics, allegiance to the morality of individuality in place of any kind of collectivism, and the primary of a noninstrumental, nonpurposive mode of political organization, particularly, civil association.". Of Hobbes's Leviathan, Oakeshott has written, "Leviathan is the best, maybe the only, masterpiece of political philosophy written within the English language.". Hobbes on Civil organization includes Oakeshott's 4 central essays on Hobbes and at the nature of civil organization as civil organization relates to ordered liberty.
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Extra info for Hobbes on Civil Association
I, xiii. 29. , VII, 78. 30. , II, xiv. 31. Hobbes gives the additional reason that a knowledge of causes is useful to mankind. , I, 7–10. 32 And what satisfies these conditions may be described as an hypothetical efficient cause. That philosophy is limited to the demonstration of such causes is stated by Hobbes on many occasions; it applies not only to the detail of his philosophy, but also to the most general of all causes, to body and motion. ” 33 And when he considers the general problem of the cause of sensations, he concludes, not with the categorical statement that body and motion are the only causal existents, but that body (that is, that which is independent of thought and which fills a portion of space) and motion are the hypothetical efficient causes of our having sensations.
The System In Hobbes’s mind, his “civil philosophy” belonged to a system of philosophy. Consequently, an enquiry into the character of this 16 Introduction to Leviathan system is not to be avoided by the interpreter of his politics. For, if the details of the civil theory may not improperly be considered as elements in a coherence of their own, the significance of the theory as a whole must depend upon the system to which it belongs, and upon the place it occupies in the system. Two views, it appears, between them hold the field at the present time.
It is true that perseverance in reasoning may reveal the necessity of a First Cause, but so little can be known about it that the attitude of human beings towards it must always be one of worship rather than knowledge. 55 The human nature we are considering is the internal structure and powers of the individual man, a structure and powers which would be his even if he were the only example of his species: we are considering the character of the solitary. He lives in the world of his own sensations and imaginations, desires and aversions, prudence, reason, and religion.
Hobbes on Civil Association by Michael Oakeshott