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Leviathan, King of the Proud

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Hobbes begins the Elements of Law by claiming that "[t]he true and perspicuous explanation of the elements of laws natural and politic... dependeth upon the knowledge of what is human nature." (E.L. I.1.1)1 He agrees that morality and politics are "not to be discovered but to be made," but they are to be made as solutions to problems discovered through a detailed study of human nature.2 Among other things, this study reveals that humans are obsessed both with contemplating their own power and having others recognize it. The former desire is the desire for glory: the latter is the desire for honour. Hobbes goes on to show the conflict these desires cause. They ensure scarcity, since their objects are intrinsically scarce, and they contribute to irresolution, and so make it hard to keep covenants. In addition, they determine the form of any solution: the market is not a fully satisfactory solution, and the sovereign must redirect desires for honour and glory into harmless channels. I shall first argue against David Gauthier, who takes Hobbesian men to pursue honour and glory as mere instruments to the satisfaction of their asocial desires. I shall then present a revamped version of what Jean Hampton calls the "passions account" of conflict, defending it from her objections. I shall close by sketching how Hobbes responds to the problems caused by the desire for honour and glory.

Affiliations: 1: University of Manitoba


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