Thomas Hobbes was an Englishman who wrote the Leviathan during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Naturally Hobbes spends chapter five, and most of the Leviathan describing how to avoid internal conflict. Hobbes argues that by using logical reasoning and eliminating disagreement a state can avoid internal conflict. Hobbes begins chapter five with a definition for reason and the operations that are involved. Hobbes continues his explanation of reason by describing the proper use of reasoning and how absurdity arises.
He elaborates on errors and absurdities, explicitly their causes.
Hobbes ends chapter five with his description of the connection between reason and science. Hobbes describes reason as the summation of information, or the analyzing of the repercussions of the actions to which we are reasoning for or against. Particularly, the consequences others will pay in one’s attainment of their goal. Hobbes describes operations used by mathematicians: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; Logicians use the same operations but with words.
Politicians use these same operations to delegate duties among men.
Hobbes elaborates, “In sum whatsoever the matter, a place for addition and subtraction, there is also a place for reason; and where these have no place, there reason has nothing at all to do”(32). Addition and subtraction are not caged in mathematics; these operations are also the foundation of reason. Hobbes then explains that reason does not exist without fault. Even the most capable, attentive, practiced men can reach false conclusions. Just as mathematicians can make mistakes in their calculations, no mans reason is certain even if approved by many. Hobbes states that reason can be driven by ulterior motives.
Men create reasoning that will help to push their agenda and reach their intended goal. Hobbes explains that when we are using reason we must proceed cautiously. Man must carefully analyze the foundation of his reasoning. Hobbes then describes how an error and absurdity can occur. Relying on knowledge of previous reasoning can lead one to a different outcome; this is what Hobbes defines as an error. When one draws a conclusion based on false assumptions, this is what Hobbes defines as absurdity or senseless speech. However, Hobbes further explains that an error is a deception, there is no way to truly determine whether it is impossible.
Hobbes argues that the phrase free will is absurd. The word free itself is not free from opposition. Hobbes argues that philosophers are the most guilty of preaching absurdities, “Nothing so absurd, but may be found in the books of philosophers”(34). Unlike mathematics, there is no solid foundation of information to work upon. Hobbes then explains how these absurdities arise. In seven points Hobbes explains that absurdity arises from the preaching of unaccredited philosophies and improper estimation of ramifications of applying said philosophies.
Hobbes argues that a man can avoid absurdity by properly analyzing consequences of actions in order to reach a particular goal. A man must have a good foundation of principles in order to reason logically. Hobbes states that reason is not inherent, nor can it be obtained by experience only. There is no right reason constituted by nature. One must properly identify the components involved in their reasoning and have a solid method of operation to analyze the ramifications of one’s actions.
Hobbes explains the connection between science and reasoning, “ Science is simply the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of the one fact upon another”(35). To Hobbes, the process of science is reason. In practicality man should use prudence in reasoning, however many profess their sapience, using alternative untested methods to yield the same results. Rather than rely on the credited work by authors, they create their own version of reasoning and mode of operation. Hobbes argues that this philosophical reformation is necessary to the preservation of peace. This reformed logical reasoning will be easily applicable to everyone.
If a state promotes the use of practical logic as definite as geometric logic, the state could avoid internal warfare. Hobbes argues that we must not accept that something is true just because many believe it to be true. In order to properly analyze the truth, the people must appoint a leader to judge and determine the proper way to deal with issues that face the state. Hobbes states that the only way to eliminate internal conflict is to eliminate disagreement. By subduing to a higher power that promotes logical reason rather than false philosophies, a state can eliminate internal conflict.