Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hobbes, Kant, and Wittgenstein

In our Humanities course, we read Hobbes. We don’t read or discuss Kant or Wittgenstein, but they are two important philosophers who lived later than Hobbes, and whom we would discuss if we had more time!

Anyway, Hobbes has one idea which makes him similar to these other two: Hobbes says that we must “captivate our understanding to the words; and not to labor in sifting out a philosophical truth by logic, of such mysteries as are not comprehensible, nor fall under any rule of natural science.” What does he mean?

He means that we can’t rationally or logically discuss some parts of human life and some aspects of this universe. Human reason, Hobbes believes, is extremely powerful, but there are a few things that it can’t do. And so we are left with some mysteries in life which we contemplate, but about which we cannot reason. Luckily, we can at least reason about why can’t reason about them!