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helped by his practical sense, which had already turned in the direction of politics.
As then the storms which preceded the outbreak of the English Revolution began to stir, he translated in the year 1628 Thukydides into English, with the express object of frightening his countrymen by an exhibition of the follies of democracy, as they were pictured in the fortunes of the Athenians. The superstition was at that time widely spread, which even in our own days is not entirely extinguished, that history is directly useful as a teacher; that examples drawn from it may be readily applied, and that in the most altered circumstances. The party that Hobbes embraced was already obviously enough the legitimist and conservative, although his own personal way of thinking, and the famous theory that was derived from it, was fundamentally and directly opposed to all conservatism.15
It was in the year 1629, when travelling through France with another young nobleman, that Hobbes began to study the Elements of Euklid, for which he soon conceived a strong liking. He was then already forty-one years old, and was now for the first time turning his attention to mathematics, in which he soon attained to the summit of the science as it then was, and which led him to his systematic mechanical Materialism.
Two years later, and upon a fresh tour through France and Italy, he began at Paris the study of the natural sciences, and he soon made the chief object of his investigations a problem which, in the very putting of it, clearly indicates his Materialism, and the answer to which furnishes the watchword to the Materialistic controversies of the coming century. This problem is as follows:
15 In the first edition it was here their policy. It is simpler to point further remarked that this theory out that the principles of the “Levia. would have better suited with the than" may in fact be still better barNapoleonic policy of our days. This monised with the despotism of Cromexpressiou might be liable to miscon- well than with the pretensions of struction, since the Bonaparte family the Stuarts to their hereditary divine seek to adopt a certain legitimism in right.
What kind of motion can it be that produces the sensation and imagination of living beings ?
During these studies, which lasted for many years, he was in daily communication with the Minim Friar Mersenne, with whom, moreover, after his return to England in 1637, he opened a correspondence.
As soon, however, as, in 1640, the Long Parliament began its session, he, who had so eagerly declared himself against the popular side, had every reason to withdraw himself; and he betook himself accordingly to Paris, where he was now in constant intercourse with Gassendi, as well as with Mersenne, and not without appropriating much from his views. His stay in Paris lasted through a long series of years. Amongst the refugee Englishmen then gathered in great numbers at Paris, he occupied a much respected position, and was selected to give instruction in mathematics to the future Charles II. Meanwhile he had composed his chief political treatises, the “De Cive” and the "Leviathan,” in which, and in the "Leviathan" with special outspokenness, he propounded the doctrine of a downright and paradoxical, but by no means a legitimist Absolutism. This very treatise, in which, moreover, the clergy had discovered many heresies, destroyed for a time his popularity at court. He fell into disgrace, and as he had at the same time violently attacked the Papacy, he was obliged to quit Paris, and avail himself of the muchabused freedom of Englishmen.
After the restoration of the King, he reconciled himself with the court, and lived in an honourable retirement of devotion to his studies. As late as his eighty-eighth year he published a translation of Homer; and in his ninetyfirst year a Cyclometry.
As Hobbes once lay ill at St. Germain of a violent fever, Mersenne was sent to him to take care that the famous man should not die outside the Romish Church. After Mersenne had announced the power of the Church to remit sins, Hobbes begged that he would rather tell him when
he had last seen Gassendi, and so the conversation immediately turned upon other subjects. The attentions of an English bishop, however, he accepted, on condition that he should confine himself to the written prayers prescribed by the Church.
Hobbes's views upon natural philosophy are partly scattered through his political writings, but partly laid down in the two works “De Homine” and “ De Corpore.” Thoroughly characteristic of his way of thinking is his introduction to philosophy
Philosophy seems to me to be amongst men now in the same manner as corn and wine are said to have been in the world in ancient time. For from the beginning there were vines and ears of corn growing here and there in the fields, but no care was taken for the planting and sowing of them. Men lived therefore upon acorns; or, if any were so bold as to venture upon the eating of these unknown and doubtful fruits, they did it with danger of their health. ... And from hence it comes to pass
that those who content themselves with daily experience, which may be likened to feeding upon acorns, and either reject or not much regard philosophy, are commonly esteemed, and are indeed, men of sounder judgment than those who, from opinions, though not vulgar, yet full of uncertainty, are carelessly received, do nothing but dispute and wrangle, like men that are not well in their wits.”
Hobbes points out how difficult it is to expel from men's minds a fallacy which has taken root, and which has been strengthened by the authority of plausible authors; and the more difficult because true, that is, exact philosophy scorns not only the “paint and false colours of language, but even the very ornaments and
of the same,” and because the first grounds of all philosophy are “poor, and in appearance deformed.”
After this introduction follows a definition of philosophy,
Vol. i. pp. 1, 2, ed. Molesworth, Elements of Philosophy: The First Section, Concerning Body.
which might equally well be called a negation of philosophy, in the ordinary sense of the word:
It is the knowledge of effects or of appearances, acquired from the knowledge we have first of their causes, and conversely of possible causes from their known effects, by means of true ratiocination. All reasoning, however, is computation; and accordingly ratiocination may be resolved into addition and subtraction. 16
Not only does this definition transform the whole of philosophy into natural science, and completely set aside the transcendental principle, but the Materialistic tendency is still plainer in the explanation of the object of philosophy. It consists in this, that we foresee effects, and so are able to apply them to the purposes of life.
It is well known that the notion of philosophy here expressed has taken such deep root in England, that it is impossible to render the sense of the word “philosophy” by the corresponding German word, and the true “natural philosopher” is nothing but the experimenting physicist. Hobbes appears here as the logical successor of Bacon; and as the philosophy of these men has certainly exercised a considerable influence in furthering the material progress of England, so, conversely, it was itself a product of that inborn national spirit then already hastening to its mighty development—the spirit of a sober and practical people striving after power and wealth.
16 The definition was still further the words “conceptis” and “quae abridged in the first edition, in order esse possunt”
are by no means superto show as clearly as possible the fluous. They denote, in definite optransition of philosophy into natural position to the Baconian induction, science. It runs in the original : the nature of the hypothetical-deduc“Philosophia est effectuum seu phae- tive method, which begins with a domenon ex conceptis eorum causis theory, and tries and corrects it by seu generationibus, et rursus genera
reference to experience. Compare tionum, quae esse possunt, ex cogni- what is said further on in the text as tis effectibus per rectam ratiocina- to the relation of Hobbes to Bacon tionem acquisita cognitio." If we and Descartes. The passages quoted wish to observe more closely the are in the treatise De Corpore, i. 1, method which is also suggested in this Opera Latina, ed. Molesworth, i. definition, we must remember that 2, 3.
In spite of these so obvious relations, it is impossible not to recognise also the influence of Descartes in this definition; and here we must, of course, keep clearly in our minds the Descartes of the “Essay upon Method,” without troubling ourselves with the traditional notions of Cartesianism.* In this maiden work, in which Descartes ranks his physical theories far above his metaphysical ones in point of importance, he boasts of the former that they open the way, “in room of the speculative philosophy usually taught in the schools, to discover a practical, by means of which, knowing the force and action of fire, water, air, the stars, the heavens, and all the other bodies that surround us, as distinctly as we know the various crafts of our artisans, we might also apply them in the same way to all the uses to which they are adapted, and thus render ourselves the lords and possessors of nature."17 We might indeed remark, that all this had already been more forcibly said by Bacon, with whose doctrine Hobbes had been thoroughly acquainted from his early youth; but this agreement extends only to the general tendency, while Descartes' method in one very essential point differs from the Baconian.
Bacon begins with induction, and expects by his mounting from the particular to the universal to be able to force his way to the real causes of phenomena. When these have been attained, there follows deduction, partly for the filling in of details, partly, however, for the practical application of the truths discovered.
* Compare note 66 in the previous of self-observation !) from this ten. section.
dency, he entirely mistakes the na17 Kuro Fischer and v. Kirch- ture of the deductive process, whiclı mann, in translating this passage may in the one sphere be regulated (René Descartes' Hauptschriften, S. by experience, but not in the other. 57; and Phil. Bibl., René Descartes' Descartes himself was still quite clear Phil. Werke, i. S. 70 ff.), refer quite enough on this point in the year 1637, rightly to the relationship between and accordingly claimed an objective Descartes and Bacon. Yet when the validity for his physical theories, but latter (loc. cit. Anm. 35) tries to claim not for his transcendental speculaDescartes as an empiricist, and to de- tions. duce the 'Cogito ergo sum' (as result
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