Hobbes frequently attacks metaphor as an improper and abusive use of language. Yet Hobbes employs very powerful metaphors himself to make his argument, such as the state of nature and the Leviathan. Why does Hobbes use such striking metaphors in a text that philosophically condemns metaphorical language?
Many of Hobbes's contemporary critics accused him of atheism. What elements of the argument in Leviathan do you think were responsible for these charges? Do you think that atheism is a correct assessment of Hobbes's position? Why or why not?
Hobbes describes the covenant, or social contract, as a "real unity" among the multitude of natural men who have chosen to escape the state of nature. But Hobbes also says that this "multitude naturally is not One, but Many; they cannot be understood for one." If a multitude cannot be a unity, how are we to understand Hobbes claim that the covenant is a "real unity"?
Analyze the role played by fear in Leviathan. Focus in particular on the function of fear among men living in the state of nature, compared to the function of fear among men living under the Leviathan. What is the same about fear in these two settings? What is different?
Why does Hobbes eliminate all ecclesiastical authority, including popes, priests, ministers, clergymen, monks, and professional theologians, from the Leviathan?
Why does Hobbes believe that his philosophy, which is ultimately based on the authority and judgment of the sovereign, is more secure and more capable of ensuring peace than any philosophy based on the observation of nature?
Fear and reason constitute the two innate qualities of natural man that let him escape the state of nature. Hobbes explains the origins of fear in terms of appetite and aversion, where fear is the simply the aversion to injury and death. How does Hobbes explain the origins of reason in natural man?
What does Hobbes mean by the term "The Kingdom of Darkness"?
Hobbes believes that the Leviathan is the perfect society to ensure peace and happiness. In this sense it is a utopian civilization. But the Leviathan is also strikingly fascist and totalitarian. Can you reconcile Hobbes's ideas of utopia with the totalitarian methods he advocates? Is Hobbes's Leviathan a desirable place to live?
Hobbes had a famous written debate with Robert Boyle about Boyle's invention of the air pump and the study of natural phenomena in the vacuum supposedly produced inside the air pump. Knowing what you do about Hobbes's philosophy, why do you think that Hobbes would claim that Boyle's air pump did not produce reliable conclusions or useful knowledge? (Think of at least two different reasons.)
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