Friday, February 06, 2009

The Fatal Flaw of Hobbes

Midst an essay of Deneen's....

...Moral relativism is articulated very clearly in the opening chapters of Hobbes's Leviathan, the work that laid the philosophical foundations for modern liberalism and particularly a defense of the natural autonomy of individuals and which made individual choice the sole basis of political and increasingly social legitimacy. Thus wrote Hobbes in Chapter 10 of the Leviathan, "Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour and Worthiness": "The value or worth of a man is, as of all other things, his price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power, and therefore is not absolute, but a thing dependent on the need and judgement of another. An able conductor of soldiers is of great price in time of war present or imminent, but in peace not so. A learned and uncorrupt judge is much worth in time of peace, but not so much in war. And as in other things, so in men, not the seller, but the buyer determines the price. For let a man, as most men do, rate themselves at the highest value they can, yet their true value is no more than it is esteemed by others."


At the heart of modern liberalism is an argument that human beings do not possess inherent dignity, but only the value that is accorded to them by the estimation of others

Thinking just momentarily about this, one can see the concomitant fatal flaws of both 'the Capitalists' and the '(modern) Left'.

And thinking for the second moment, we are led back to this essay-excerpt we posted yesterday:

The Republican party has been the party of cultural populism and economic elitism, and the Democrats have been the party of cultural elitism and economic populism

...which is to say, each Party adopts one side of the Hobbesian coin; they are both "Liberal" in the classical sense of the term. You may pick your strawberry, but you must pick a poison alongside it.

Maybe Reince Priebus and Michael Steele have a better idea?

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