Thursday, February 12, 2015

Philosophy - Hobbes and Rousseau and Photographer Alex Arnaoudov

Nice Photo's
Tonight's a further Philosophy session and we'll be taking a look at Hobbes and Rousseau:

Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679) 

... was the second son of an illiterate, alcoholic priest and is probably most famous for his book Leviathan.

Hobbes who on finishing his studies at Oxford  university became a tutor to the Cavendish family.
Hobbes is forever associated (along with Darwin) for using the phrase

that  human nature is red in tooth and claw 

as his belief was that an overarching state  was required to provide a haven from fear for its citizens and that such citizens had a responsibility to such a state.

Hobbes was initially a royalist under Charles I  but after Cromwell came to power he lived in exile in Paris writing Leviathan Hobbes can be considered a  materialist philosopher, his views were  based upon a mechanistic view of the universe,and he reckoned that all phenomena were explainable purely in terms of matter and motion,Hobbes rejected concepts such as incorporeal spirits or disembodied souls. 
This excerpt (below) from Sparknotes covers his views well:


Consequently Hobbes was thought an atheist although he was not.. Associated with both atheism and the many deliberately terrifying images of Leviathan, Hobbes became known as the "Monster of Malmsbury" and the "Bug-bear of the Nation." In 1666, Hobbes's books were burned at Oxford (where Hobbes had graduated from Magdalen College in 1608), and the resulting conflagration was even blamed in Parliament for having started the Great Fire of London. The chaotic atmosphere of England in the aftermath of the Civil Wars ensured that Hobbes's daring propositions met with a lively reaction.
Hobbes knew that Leviathan would be controversial, for not only did the text advocate restoration of monarchy when the English republic was at its strongest (Oliver Cromwell was not instituted as Lord High Protector until 1653, and the Restoration of Charles II did not occur until 1660), but Hobbes's book also challenged the very basis of philosophical and political knowledge. Hobbes claimed that traditional philosophy had never arrived at irrefutable conclusions, that it had instead offered only useless sophistries and insubstantial rhetoric; he thus called for a reform of philosophy that would enable secure truth--claims with which everyone could agree. Consequently, 'Hobbesian' philosophy would prevent disagreements about the fundamental aspects of human nature, society, and proper government. Furthermore, because Hobbes believed that civil war resulted from disagreements in the philosophical foundations of political knowledge, his plan for a reformed philosophy to end divisiveness would also end the conditions of war. For Hobbes, civil war was the ultimate terror, the definition of fear itself. He thus wanted to reform philosophy in order to reform the nation and thereby vanquish fear.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-88)

Coming quite some time after Hobbes Jean-Jacques Rousseau a Swiss born philosopher took a very different view of society to that held by Hobbes believing (against what is now generally thought to be the case) -that there was a strong case  against ruling elites, Rousseau is known for his work The Social Contract - his catchphrase being:

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.

Rousseau was a man who wrote that mankind would be  improved by returning to nature and living a natural life at peace with his neighbours and himself. He claims to be in favour of democracy, but  some say that what he favours is egalitarianism. Rousseau's influence both in art and politics was huge in his own day and continues to be strong today.


 Photographer Alex Arnaoudov

Some nice work by Alex

For Arts Sake in Ealing  unusually have held an exhibition of Photographs ( they usual show only paintings and drawings but I was told that Alex works there)  - some nice prints and subjects many local and recognisable - check them out here.

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