Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update of Status.

4:43 PM Posted by Patrick 3 comments
This is the first time since my last post that I have had time to think about writing something for pleasure. And while I would much prefer to bore you all to tears with my latest discoveries in the dusty tomes of dead white dudes, there are matters of real life to be addressed.

As you may know, Evan--that's right, the one with the beard--has recently proposed to my darling sister. If this came as a great surprise, then allow me to express my fervent desire to study you, that I may figure out how you managed to survive to this point in life.

We are all extraordinarily thrilled that Bethany had the good sense to fall for someone of his quality. The same need not be said of him; the good taste inherent in his character as an educated and intelligent man necessarily dictates that he notice hers.

Evan is a man whom I feel, not only good, but relieved to see with my sister. One wants the best for their siblings, especially for the Shewoof, and I think she found it in Evan. I mean, seriously, he is a bit of a dork and socially functioning/not mortifying to associate with. He and Bethany might be the last of their race; goodness knows, you cannot take the rest of us anywhere.

On a infinitesimal minor note--and in brief, for time is fleeting and there is always homework to be done--I have been promoted to suits full time and, pending further training for the next few weeks, I will be an officially certified tailor. This comes with a commission, and I can expect to make a minimum of $12-13 an hour, although I averaged more like $15 my first day.

Alas, enough! Time flies and Vasari waits.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Evil Mindset.

12:48 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
We are all Hobbesian. I just finished Leviathan this afternoon, and the shift in thought is pretty obvious. People speak of Machiavelli as a philosopher of evil, which I have already challenged. If asked to finger such a one, my first glance would not fall on Machiavelli.

I assert that Hobbes is a philosopher of evil.

In Hobbes all things have liberty, and that liberty resides in unrestricted action. Liberty and license are the same thing. By nature, man has the right to do as he will, but this is a state of war with all other men, and they are likewise free to do with him as they will. The highest goal of man being the maintenance of his life, he may join himself to other men and surrender a measure of his freedom in order to form a collective will, or commonwealth, to protect his life. The highest good is the preservation of life, property, and public order.

What is Liberty in Machiavelli? Liberty is an inherently political quality; it is the attribute bestowed by participation in the life of the city, particularly in the making of law. The life of the citizen is not just about the safety granted by the protections of government, but that the richest possible life is found in a civic existence in service to your fellow men. It also bears note that Liberty in Machiavelli does not exist aside from duty. A man who shuns his responsibilities is not partaking fully of the life of the city, and so does not truly have liberty. This liberty, as a matter of course, involves the engagement of man's reason in service to his fellow men and society.

I need hardly say that I much prefer the latter version.

I also take objection to Hobbes writing on "The right of nature by which God reigneth over men." He sticks to his same logic that he used throughout. The "right of nature" dictates that God should be worshiped for no other attribute than his power. Not his goodness, nor our creation, but only for his power. In other words, we worship God, not because because he gives us faith, or because he created us, but because his power is infinite and his will irresistible. Basically, we worship god for the same reason we form societies: 'cause we really don't want to be squashed.

Hobbes also argues that there is no Divine law, save where it coincides with the laws he sees necessary for the cessation of the state of war. He argues that the laws of the old testament are not the laws of God, but the laws of the contemporaries. And he would go on to say that justice is what the sovereign or commonwealth says it is, so long as it keeps men from the state of war. The times change and there is no eternal law or ideal; there is only the pragmatic needs of the time. Martyrdom should not be an issue, because people should--at least publicly--adhere to the religious practices of the commonwealth. Civic law is the only real law. God is an abstraction.

Machiavelli speaks of good law, and good law is aimed at teaching the life of the city to the citizens. Civic law is needed to maintain order, but good citizens are shaped through religion.

Neither one of the two is someone from whom I would take theological pointers, but at least Machiavelli is compatible with a christian faith. If you take many of Hobbes thoughts about nature to their stated and logical conclusion, it is not only incompatible with Christianity, but there are elements which are antithetical to the christian faith.

I'll get back to this in good time, but it is time for homework.