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Tuesday November 21st 2017Tim Candler9

 

      Rambling around the titles of the great works might not be for everyone. But take for example John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government." A total empiricist yawn-fest of a title when put beside something like Hobbes' "Behemoth: the history of the causes of the civil wars of England, and the counsels and artifices by which they were carried on from the year 1640 to the year 1660." And yet generally Hobbes and Locke are both seen as huge influences on the development of thinking patterns sometimes referred to as Liberalism. Oddly, in the course of internet discussion I have yet to be called a Hobb-tard or a Locke-tard, but I guess when it comes to arguments around the details of the Virgin Birth, it's sort of understandable. And here Hobbes made a good point about one of the causes of the English Civil Wars in his references to schisms in religion that had emerged in society following the English King Henry's inability to produce a properly born male heir. Back then Anabaptists were a bit of a nuisance with their insistence that a person should wait until such time as they had a achieved a degree of understanding before being dunked into the Christian faith. There were hard Puritans, gentle Quakers and a whole bunch of people some of whom still reckoned the Pope in Rome was God's true vicar upon earth.

 

Past

     It's always the case that a reader sees things that might not be there, and yet you have to think that Hobbes missed the old days, and was struggling to reinvent a more perfect past in his understanding of matters ecclesiastic and civil. And in the end you just have to look at Kneller's portrait of Locke to realize that he might have been well pleased to see a disestablishment of any kind of religion enshrined in the US Constitution which Liberalism and Republicanism had so influenced. Wear the hat if you want, carry the authentic semi-automatic musket if you wish, but if you were a revolutionary, instead of carpet bagger, and it was April 1775 you might have sought God's assistance while under the fire of English cannon but you'd have seen John Locke, the Empiricist, in your banners.  Hard to forget, Washington at the head of his victorious army, wasn't able to or didn't choose to be an Emperor. Nor did Hobbes have much good to say about carpet baggers. He didn't call them carpet baggers, they were more like lost souls seeking possibilities from the chaos of a new frontier, kind of like the internet explorers today, monetizing likes on face book no matter the content so long as it's visceral rather than honest. At the same time Hobbes reckoned on the ecclesiastic playing a tune of cohesion in civil society, and in some ways to an old wishy-washy relativistic existentialist like me he was correct. Otherwise I just have to say it, "You got to be drunk to make sense of Christmas in Alabama."

 

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