In this essay I intend to examine the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and Rene Descartes, in particular their ideas relating to the science of man, and attempt to explain why their ideas prove that it is not possible to construct a science of man.
I will also briefly mention the philosophy of Donald Davidson in regards to a science of man.
The theories of Hobbes and the contemporary socio-biologists attempt to recognise how man works and on that basis build a society.
"Hobbes wished to be seen as the inventor of the science of politics" (Sorrell, p45) He went about this by looking at the psychology of man and discovering that man is a mechanism. Hobbes wanted to understand mechanics. He wanted to look at why men live the way that they do in society and therefore, breaks it down. By doing this he discovered that people are cogs in the social machine. Therefore he wants to examine this cogs to achieve an understanding of the social mechanism, and does this by looking at the psychology of the mind.
Hobbes is both an empirist and a materialist. Empirists believe that sense gives all knowledge. Generally, they do not believe in astrology, god, electrons etc. Their philosophy is summed up by saying that all things that give true knowledge can be sensed. Materialists believe that all things in existence are physical matter. In other words, the soul and the spirit do not exist.
Therefore Hobbes believes that thoughts are material, that they are caused by sense and vice versa.
Tom Sorrell suggests in his essay, entitled "Hobbes' scheme of the sciences", that rather than have knowledge of how the mechanics of the mind's passions work, a more successful way of gaining political knowledge is to understand what these... [continues]
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