12. The Sovereign State: Hobbes' Leviathan

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Introduction to Political Philosophy (PLSC 114)

This is an introduction to the political views of Thomas Hobbes, which are often deemed paradoxical. On the one hand, Hobbes is a stern defender of political absolutism. The Hobbesian doctrine of sovereignty dictates complete monopoly of power within a given territory and over all institutions of civilian or ecclesiastical authority. On the other hand, Hobbes insists on the fundamental equality of human beings. He maintains that the state is a contract between individuals, that the sovereign owes his authority to the will of those he governs and is obliged to protect the interests of the governed by assuring civil peace and security. These ideas have been interpreted by some as indicative of liberal opposition to absolutism.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction: Thomas Hobbes
07:28 - Chapter 2. Who Was Hobbes?
14:12 - Chapter 3. Comparing Hobbes to Machiavelli and Aristotle
25:26 - Chapter 4. Hobbes on Art, Science and Politics
33:55 - Chapter 5. Hobbes' "Great Question": What Makes Legitimate Authority Possible?
40:32 - Chapter 6. What Makes Hobbes' Story a Plausible Account of "The State of Nature"?

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2006.