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Dr. Larry Arnn And Dr. Thomas West Revisit Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan

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HH: I have called for a dirge to begin this hour. This is the Hillsdale Dialogue, but it’s the one I have feared most over the two years that we’ve been doing them, all of them available at It is the Hillsdale Dialogue on the Leviathan and Thomas Hobbes, and the book haunts me still from 1978 and Harvey Mansfield’s treatment of it. I think it may be the most, single most difficult text that is routinely handed to people. I don’t know if people routinely read it. But I know there’s a famous paragraph in it, which I shall begin the hour with. He’s talking about his famous state of nature, and joining me in this conversation, President Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College, Dr. Thomas West, on the faculty there. They’ve both been frequent visitors to the Hillsdale hour. That paragraph on the state of nature reads, “In such a condition, there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain. And consequently, no culture of the earth, no navigation, no use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of things, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death. In the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Dr. West, that is at the heart of the Leviathan. That’s what people most know it fore. I believe you’re going to argue that we get him all wrong.

TW: Well, what Hobbes is describing there, I don’t know how anybody in the world could disagree with it. He’s saying if you don’t have civilization, life is really bad. And the whole point of Leviathan is to praise civilization and tell us why we need it and how to get it.

HH: But he also has an absolutist view of how you get rid of this. I make my law students read a few pages. In fact, they did it this week on his antipathy towards freedom of religion, religion having to be put underneath the guide of the ruler, of the sovereign. So he is very much an absolutist, is he not?

TW: Well, he’s an absolutist. What he says is everything the government commands you to do is just. But then he adds to it not everything the government commands is equitable. And so when you just focus on what he says about just, it sounds like oh, gosh, he’s defending totalitarianism. But then he turns around and he says oh, no, I don’t mean that at all. I mean that there’s a standard higher than government which he called equity, or sometimes he calls it the law of nature, which creates moral standards for how government is supposed to conduct itself. And let me just add this, Hugh. If our government today conducted itself in accordance with what Hobbes says equity is, we would be living in a much freer and a much better society than the one we have now.

HH: But if you do write a book that commands that one give to the sovereign the allegiance that is necessitated by the original social contract, if the sovereign goes wrong, how do you challenge the sovereign?

TW: Same way you do under the American Declaration of Independence.

HH: He would not have appreciated that, right? He would not have thought them acting appropriately towards George III, would he?

TW: Yes, he would have. As a matter of fact, Hobbes says that the obligation of the subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasts by which the sovereign is able to protect them. In other words, what Hobbes is saying is what the American founders called, that allegiance and protection are reciprocal. In other words…

HH: Let me turn that around, then.

TW: You’re obliged to obey only if the government protects you. The minute the government’s no longer protecting you, you no longer have any kind of obligation to obey.

HH: Let me turn that around, then, Dr. Arnn. Lots of Americans at the time of the framing, the Tories, including my wife’s family. My family were still digging potatoes in Ireland under the boot of the Leviathan.

LA: Unsuccessfully, too.

HH: Unsuccessfully, as they would soon discover. They went with the king. They ended up in Canada. They did not think that the king was treating them unjustly. They thought that the king was quite well, and appropriately about his duties. They might have been wrong, but how in the world does one get to judge this? Otherwise, you’ll always be in a state of nature if the guy down the street can rally troops and say I’m against the leviathan.

LA: Well, they organized, they figured that out through a series of debates, the last one held in Yorktown in Virginia.

HH: (laughing) Okay, back up a little bit to 1770 when cranky Sam Adams is running around trying to stir the pot. Not John Adams, the good lawyer, the man who likes the leviathan, who’s enjoyed the fruits of British rule…

LA: Goodness, Hugh.

HH: …and his cranky cousin’s running around dressed in Indian gear and throwing tea in the water and all that. What gives them the right to say that they’re not protected? They are well protected. They just don’t want to do what their well protecting sovereign requires of them.

LA: Well, the thing to be protected, by the way, in the Declaration of Independence, and Tom will tell us if it’s true in Hobbes, although I happen to know the answer, and it is. The thing to be protected is not just their bodies from some other person or nation harming them. It’s also their ability to live well. And if you just look in the middle of the Declaration of Independence, the failures of the protections of the king include his failures to protect them from bodily harm, indeed threatening them or causing them bodily harm. But in addition, failing to secure the conditions of the respect for their rights, and defying those rights. And so in, it was in deference to the king and to our wife’s ancestors that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Bill of Particulars in the middle of the Declaration of Independence.

HH: And so the question becomes at what point do you get to do that, because anyone can write a bill of particulars. The question is whether or not, but it didn’t persuade half of the colonies, and it almost didn’t win the war, because a few extra, a little less lethargy on the part of the Brothers Howe and it would have all been over in 1776, and we would all be saying that the leviathan went about its job the right way. Let me go back up to Hobbes for a second and tell you why I’m surprised. This is written contemporaneously with the English civil war, which is a horrible thing. And I’m curious, Dr. West, if you think that impacts Hobbes at all as he watched the Roundheads and the Cavaliers go at each other, beheading kings, exiling, restoring. By the way, Cromwell trots over to Ireland and massacres great numbers of my forbearers. What’s the impact of the English civil war on the background on Leviathan?

TW: That’s exactly what Hobbes had in mind when he wrote. Look, what Hobbes saw as the problem of his day was that there were all these people running around society who said I understand how government’s supposed to operate way better than the people actually in government. And he said there were three basic categories of those people, and it was the preachers, the lawyers and the, I’m sorry, I can’t remember, I’m doing a Rick Perry moment here. But the point was that there were these intellectuals running around. Oh, yeah, the third category was people who admired ancient Greek philosophy. He said these people all are talking about government as though it’s something we could just easily dispense with if only we get these smart guys in power. And Hobbes is saying look, that’s now how it should work. Government’s there for a good reason, and you shouldn’t, you have to have a really good reason to disobey it. So he tried to limit this idea of appeal to a higher law by saying let’s stick to what government can do and can do well, and shouldn’t try to do anything beyond, namely protection of your life, liberty and property so that you can pursue happiness in your own private life in your own way. That was essentially the thought that animated everything he wrote in regard to politics. And that thought, now, that thought came down to the American Revolution with this big difference. In the American Revolution, they added the need for consent of the governed through periodic elections. Hobbes thought you should not have that. That was the biggest difference.

HH: And so why did he not want to have periodic elections?

TW: Well, in his days, what that meant was the rule of Cromwell, whom you just pointed out was a bit of a tyrant. I mean, when they, when the British, when the English republic was created during that civil war, that didn’t lead to good government in England. It led to the rule of a religious persecution.

HH: One man, one rule, and absolutism as well as…

LA: Yeah, and inquiring. I mean, we’re getting this today, right, in America, inquiring into people’s private opinions, not leaving them space to follow their convictions, things like that. And can I introduce two thoughts so that we can actually do Hobbes properly?

HH: Please.

LA: Because this is a revolutionary occasion. Tom West is here, and he’s got very radical thoughts about Hobbes, and you can’t understand him unless you understand two things, in my opinion, two things Hobbes is famous for. Hobbes is criticized today because he introduces not despotic society. There’s that charge, which you’re making.

HH: I am.

LA: But in addition, a life devoted to low goals is one part of it, and fear is the animating force, two rational armies would run away from each other, although he goes on to say you have a duty to help your country and you mustn’t. And the he says that the thoughts and ideas are but scouts and spies to range abroad and find the way to the thing desired. And so some people style him an anti-rationalist in ways that are common in modern thought.

HH: Or a man who brings about totalitarianism, which is what, that’s the charge I’ve always been taught to level against him. We’ll have Thomas West answer all those when we come back.

— – – – —

HH: I’ve also got in front of me, Thomas West, The Primacy Of The Good In Hobbes’ Political Philosophy: A Reconsideration of the Straussian View, hinted at in the last segment by Dr. Arnn, saying that Dr. West is trying to resuscitate Hobbes from the low point into which he’s fallen in the opinion of people like me. And I don’t know if I should blame Harvey on that, because it’s been so long. But there is this view about that he’s bad for freedom, Thomas West. Is that not right?

TW: Yeah, in the American Declaration of Independence, equality means two things for government. One is government’s there to secure your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including your right to acquire and possess property. Second, though, government should operate by consent, meaning periodic elections. Hobbes embraces the first point and rejects the second. He’s all about protecting individual liberty in our sense of allowing a great deal of scope for private choice in private life. But at the same time, he fears that elections and democracy, and he’s looking at the British situation, are not likely to lead to security of rights. And I think that, so if you, you can understand what’s positive about Hobbes by understanding the way he reconceived the purpose of government and tried to turn it away from the idea that government needs to reach down into your soul and fix you. That’s the way people today talk in our country, but not the founders, and not Hobbes.

HH: And it really goes to what he really meant, because if you reconceive the notion of a chair, you can’t make it into a table. It is what it is. What did Strauss think that Hobbes was? If you’re going to reconsider that, what did he originally consider him to be?

TW: Strauss emphasized the part of Hobbes that he, about, that whereby Hobbes thought that reality is something we can create and make through our own doings. Hobbes, in Strauss’ view, believed in the conquest of nature and the domination of human mind over all reality. And I believe that was a caricature, but it was a useful claim that Strauss was making at the time in order to get students interested in returning to the classics, which at the time, nobody was willing to look at. So I think his critique of Hobbes was excessive, deliberately so, for that purpose.

HH: So it was instrumental to getting them to a different place?

TW: Yeah, he wanted to get people back to the idea that philosophy in its true meaning means thinking about things without submitting to authority and doctrines. So he was interested in getting people away from philosophers like Hobbes who have a doctrine, a teaching, and back to Plato or Socrates, who is all about asking questions and trying to understand reality without claiming to have all the final answers.

HH: Now Larry Arnn, you had a pretty good teacher of political theory. What did he think of Hobbes?

LA: Well, he thought what, I think he thought more of what Strauss thought, and he made a strong distinction between Hobbes and Locke, and thought Locke was partially guilty of the same things as Hobbes, but less so.

HH: That shocks me, too.

LA: Yah.

HH: I thought, well, you know, here’s the cartoon. Hobbes, bad guy, Locke, good guy, Americans pick Locke.

LA: Yeah, well, I…and you know, so there are three things you have to add into that if you want to understand the thought of Harry Jaffa, who by the way turned 96 yesterday.

HH: Oh, terrific. Happy birthday, Dr. J.

LA: Happy birthday. One is there’s Hobbes, and a second is Locke. And a third is the founders of America. And what did they think, right? And that distinction between both Hobbes and Locke, or any philosopher, was, Professor Jaffa makes that strongly, and thinks that these were practical men, something, they were statesmen, something more than gentlemen, and that they were guided by the phenomena before them, which was an understanding of rights and of human nature, which they talk about all the time. And remember that our course of independence is about the laws of nature and of nature’s God, and that is an opening expressed in the character of George Washington, and in the admiration for him, for example, toward the full understanding of human nature and its excellences. And so Professor Jaffa had a great deal to say about all of that, and how they are political men dealing with natural and real political phenomena.

HH: In the context in which my students were reading Hobbes, an excerpt this week, and the letter on toleration from Locke, was how did those two English philosophers impact the framers when they came to set up in 1789 the 1st Amendment and the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause? And Locke’s the winner, and Hobbes is the enemy, because he doesn’t want any freedom of religion, does he, Tom?

TW: Well look, here’s the difference between the two. Hobbes says government, anything government commands you to do is just. So in that sense, no, you can’t resist if they command you to have a particular religion. On the other hand, Hobbes also says that government should stick to doing stuff it can do right and well. And that should mean basically protecting of individual rights to life, liberty and property, and not to be concerned about the religious opinions of the people except if those opinions conflict with the laws of nature. That’s…

HH: Well…

TW: So he, whereas Locke turns around and says oh, no, no, no, let’s have toleration, but then Locke adds all these footnotes. Oh, by the way, you can’t tolerate any religion that’s intolerant. You can’t tolerate any religion that teaches that you don’t have an obligation to obey the sovereign. So Locke comes around by his footnotes, and by this exceptions, to the idea that religious liberty is important, but has to be limited by the needs of what it takes for the community to secure your rights.

HH: But he does, eventually, he does get to you a circumscribed religious liberty as we have in this country. Hobbes, by requiring all ecclesiastical authority to be under the thumb of the leviathan, never lets it get going. You’ll all have the Church of England everywhere at all times. I know he’s got the backdrop of the English civil war, and he doesn’t want that to happen again, but he really does go after the first freedom. That’s why he’s the heavy in my world.

TW: Well, what he says is it’s optional to have the government control the religion. He says government if it wants to is allowed to. If it doesn’t, if it would rather delegate that to private life, it can do that. The last chapter of Leviathan says you know, we really ought to think about returning to the early Church where the government didn’t take a stand, and you had different sects of Christianity all tolerated. So he’s not completely, he’s not going to insist that there has to be the Church of England model. And I think that Locke, Hobbes saw that as a really dangerous thing. If you allows these religious doctrines to be powerful in politics, which at the time they were, they can destroy the polity and destroy the possibility for civilization, which above all is what he was concerned about.

HH: Dr. Arnn, is he letting him off too lightly here?

LA: Well, Hobbes, yes and no. There are obvious, those three things that we mentioned, those are obvious and powerful in Hobbes. And I don’t like those things, and I wouldn’t proclaim them. And that means for me, and in my judgment for America, Hobbes cannot be treated as the standard. But Tom is making a profound and important point, and that is every kind of government can go too far. Every kind does, by the way. And so these people with these really great minds, they write in a way to correct, they write in a way to do two things at the same time. One is to correct the things around them, and Tom is making the case some of those things are corrected by Hobbes. And the other is to reflect things that are beyond any time as they understand them, which they tend to do better than we can do.

— – – —

HH: Dr. West has written at great length on Hobbes, and he wants a fresh reading of Hobbes, he says, for three reasons, for the sake of understanding modernity, to overcome the current prejudice against the early moderns, and for the sake of understanding America and the case for Constitutional government. So I want to go to those three things, Dr. West. For the sake of understanding modernity, why do you need Hobbes to understand the fact that we’re in a mess because Leviathan is in face leviathan-like?

TW: Well, what I meant by understand modernity is understand what’s both good and bad within modernity. One of the dangers of people who study political philosophy is they easily get trapped in moral categories that make thinking easy, but distort facts. And one of those categories that I’ve been hearing ever since I was a student is the ancients are good and moderns are bad. And that’s why we need to go back to Plato and Aristotle, and we need to understand that modernity is one long slippery slope from Machiavelli and Hobbes down to Hitler, Obama and Hillary Clinton.

HH: That’s very well put. I want to say that again. They fall into categories that make things easy, but distort fact. In other words, they put on blinkers or blinders to that which is inconvenient to their ideology.

TW: Right, and so the question for me has always been, how is it that this modernity, if it’s really all that bad, ended up creating this amazingly good polity in the United States? How did we get there if these theoretical predecessors like Hobbes, who is supposedly an influence, and I think he was an influence on Locke, if he was so important in modern development? So my point was well, let’s go back and look at Hobbes again and see if he really is all that bad. And my conclusion was I don’t think he’s a model for us, because he rejects the idea of the consent of the governed. But he does have an understanding of government that is vastly superior to anything that’s been developed in political theory over the last hundred or a hundred and fifty years.

HH: So you’re saying he’s got a book on the shelf that can be taken off both by the Nazis and by the libertarians and be read to their ends? I’m not sure that makes him a good guy.

TW: That’s not what I’m saying. No, I’m saying that if you look, there’s a chapter in Leviathan, Chapter 30, it’s called On The Duty Of The Sovereign, and he goes into all these lists of duties, about nine of them. And basically, they’re all lists of things that gosh, if only government would do that in our time, we’d be in much better shape. One of them is that government, he says when government passes laws, they need to be good. And he defines good as being first, necessary, and second, clear, necessary meaning actually necessary to protect the sovereign and to protect the citizen’s life and property.

HH: Now let me pause there…

TW: Let’s think about all the laws today that are neither necessary nor clear. Remember Nancy Pelosi?

HH: Of course. Read it…

TW: We have to pass the law to find out what’s in it. That’s modern law.

HH: But the modern critique, when we sat down, you guys were talking about esotericism. What if he wrote that just as a fop to the people who were otherwise going to say wait a minute here, you’ve just designed totalitarianism, and then he can always point to Chapter 30 and say oh, no, Chapter 30, I don’t mean that at all, but in fact…

LA: Well, you have to settle, in any great book, and by the way, Hugh, your audience is soon to be afflicted with the tragedy that you wrote your senior thesis on Montaigne.

HH: No, we did that already. Thank God you weren’t there for that.

LA: Thank God I wasn’t there. And let me apologize to the crowd, I was out of town or I would have stopped it.

HH: (laughing)

LA: But reading Thomas Hobbes is a hoot, by the way. It’s fun. I had a course on Hobbes in graduate school. I love Hobbes. I don’t agree with him, and I don’t like him, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love him.

HH: Oh, that is exactly the opposite. Montaigne is to be loved and savored. Hobbes is to be drilled through and blown up like dynamiting a cave to get through the mountain.

LA: Boy, the people have no idea the sigh of relief I just breathed. I don’t have to read Montaigne.

HH: (laughing)

LA: But with Hobbes, you see, any great book, you know, you want to try to figure out what’s going on in Shakespeare, well first of all, there’s a very sophisticated mind at work here. And you start, Tom makes a point about this in his essay that he sent you to read, and he makes it in many places, you start out by assuming they mean well and they have something true to say. And the way you settle that question you just brought up is you read it carefully and think about it.

HH: And when we come back from break, I’ll pose the question, though, unique to this time in which he’s writing, it’s an off with your head time. He’s got to be very careful.

— – – –

HH: I’ve been reading Dr. West’s paper, I believe originally issued in 2003, but revised many times since, urging a reconsideration of the view which I brought into the room, which I think probably 99% of people who take a class on Hobbes bring into the room, that here is the man calling for authoritarianism at best, and totalitarianism at worst, with Dr. West making the argument that no, in fact, if you want to understand where America and the case for Constitutional government comes from, you’ve got to read your Hobbes. Is that fairly put, Professor West?

TW: Yeah, that’s true. I will admit that Hobbes does make some mistakes. And you know, for example, like you say, he could have been clearer about that there are moral limits and guides on government, and second, he could have been clearer that the moral standards he talks about in his teaching on the law of nature, that those are genuine, and you really do need to obey those. He says that, but then he says other things that you correctly point out make you wonder does he really mean it.

HH: And how does he understand Christianity? You write about this at Page 12. What’s the bottom line on how he understands Christianity?

TW: The bottom line is very simple. He’s saying if you understand what Jesus is telling you, you need to do and to believe. The answer is you need to obey God’s law. And God’s law is you need to be ready to obey the Messiah when He comes back, which will be at some point in the future. And in the meantime, you need to obey the law of nature, which means you need to obey your government here and now. In other words, you need to be a good citizen and a good Christian.

HH: And so I don’t know how you get to a revolutionary moment with that being the obligation. Even though you’ve got Chapter 30, if that’s the understanding of Christianity, and if at any time, the government can take over the religious branches, as you said, they can allow it to go away for a time, but if at any time they can recall it to their authority, I don’t know how you ever get, nor would America have gotten to a revolutionary moment if the religious authorities and their understanding of their doctrine is always at least insipiently under the control of the government?

TW: Well, what he says about the law of nature, though, is elsewhere in the book, is about preserving your own life. And so what that means is you need to be ready to treat others as you would have them treat you, the Golden Rule. He means things like that. He means treat others as equals, treat them with respect and civility. But it also means you need to be ready to fight if somebody’s ready to kill you. That’s the basic doctrine of the law of nature, and that’s what the Americans were saying. The Americans were saying we understand our obligation is to obey the government as long as it’s securing our rights to life, liberty and property. But we’re ready to fight if they’re going to fight us. And so when they start threatening to take away our right to control our own property, and to attack our houses and burn down our villages, which is what they were doing, the British government was doing, we’ll fight. That’s what Hobbes is saying, is that the law of nature doesn’t mean you have to be supine and just accept the government as a steamroller to squash you and treat you like a doormat. It means you need to be ready to fight and defend your life. But most of the time, it means you need to be ready to be a good citizen and obey your government. And he gives you the right way to think about that, which is what the founders built into their Declaration. Prudence will dictate. The government should not easily be overthrown.

HH: They threaded the needle…

TW: They did.

HH: …between going good citizens and becoming revolutionaries. They got it right.

LA: Yeah, and the point is there is a needle there, and it’s written in the simple fact that government is natural to human beings, and they can’t live well without it. The state of nature, if it means an unlawful and uncivilized state is nasty, solitary, poor, brutish and short. And on the other hand, it’s people that run governments. And God knows what they’ll do with the power they get. And so you’ve got to give them power, you’ve got to restrain the power through constitutionalism, and you’ve got to restrain the power through your character and your willingness to stand up to danger if they try to oppress you.

HH: And I guess I’ll come back. It’s redundant. I mean, it’s not redundant, I’m just belaboring the point that he does harness religion, and in harnessing religion, harnesses the driver of the American Revolution. It wouldn’t have happened if Hobbes had had his way, not if religion in America had been put under the same harness that he sees for in the Leviathan. Dr. West, do you disagree with that?

TW: Yeah, because he’s saying Christianity teaches you to obey the law of nature, and the law of nature includes within it your own preservation and that of your fellows. So there’s a place there. There’s an entering wedge there for self-defense against tyranny. And that’s, even Hobbes has to acknowledge that, because his whole point is government exists only to protect you. That’s its job.

HH: But as a practical matter, he would have had the Church of England in every colony. He would have stamped out every other competing argument against it. The Puritans would not have been there, even though he eventually threw in with them. He would not have, I don’t know how he would have…

TW: No, he would have said that’s a prudential question. Government needs to deal with religion like anything else – prudentially with a view to is the religion threatening the peace, or is it keeping the peace. In America at that time, in 1776, all the religions that were powerful in the nation were in favor of keeping the peace, and therefore, toleration in that condition made sense. Think about Iraq. Does religious toleration make sense in a country like Iraq? What toleration means in the condition of that kind is that Muslims get to burn down Christian churches and persecute Christians. I mean, it’s a different situation if you have that kind of religion.

HH: Larry Arnn, do you agree at the time of the framing that the churches were for keeping the peace?

LA: Sure, they were. And they were for, by and large, you know, and one of the sources, one of The sources for the understanding of the American Revolution is a bunch of sermons, which are often, by the way, titled electoral sermons. You’ve got to be careful now, because the Internal Revenue Service is watching.

HH: Yes, they will.

LA: But those sermons are full of love of religious freedom. And the thing that they now, that Tom has written very well about this, the thing they all understand is Christianity, because so whatever the two parts of Hobbes are, there are two parts of Christianity that are in my opinion playing in the New Testament. And one part is it’s like the apostles before the Sanhedrin. They tell you to stop worshipping, you tell them to stick it. That’s one part. And the second part is obey the law. We’re not setting up our own government here. Let people live the way they want to, and you’re never going to get them to Heaven by making them go there.

— – – —

HH: If you want to know more about Thomas Hobbes, go online and look up Thomas G. West and The Primacy Of The Good In Hobbes’ Political Philosophy. Is it anywhere available, Dr. West?

TW: I’ll make it available.

HH: Yeah, it just seems to me that, how is your project going?

LA: (laughing)

HH: Is your project advancing to rekindle or rehabilitate, really, Hobbes, to bring him back from the outer ring?

TW: Well, after this conversation, Hugh, you’re going to get me back on it. So yeah, maybe it’s time to act.

HH: (laughing) Dr. Arnn, are you glad about that?

LA: Yeah.

HH: I mean…

LA: Well, Tom, so you have to understand Tom, right? Tom is one of my oldest friends, right? And I’ve watched his career forever and ever. And he’s reached the sagacity phase in his life. He’s delivering himself of great judgments. And they’re sophisticated. And he’s always had the gift of being terse as well as blunt. So the first four of five pages of that thing, of that pieces, which by the way, he’s never published. You’re now making him publish it.

HH: You’ve never published this?

LA: He’s never published it.

HH: What?

LA: And the reason is it is pretty radical, he is. And he’s thinking things through fundamentally. And when he disagrees with his teacher, he’s sort of a grandstudent of Leo Strauss, although he did study directly with Strauss some. When he disagrees with Strauss, he’s like Plato, Aristotle disagreeing with Plato, right? He’s proving to his teacher that he learned.

HH: But I’m curious, you write something, that’s just wild. You wrote this ten years ago and you haven’t published it?

TW: Yeah, well, I’ve got other stuff in the works, Hugh, so I can excuse myself.

HH: But why would you do that?

TW: I’m disorganized. How’s that?

HH: I’m not buying that. Not after I read this.

LA: No, he’s thinking. And see, the point is, his way, he’s, you know, there’s all kinds of scholars. But he’s like a plough horse, right? And he’s going to get to the end of the row, and it’s all going to be ploughed when he’s done it.

HH: Well, my hat’s off to you. I really, when it arrived, when Kyle sent this to me and I sat down with it and I started to go through it, I thought to myself, my goodness, this is not what I expected. And so my hat is off to you. Dr. Thomas West, Dr. Larry Arnn, all of the Hillsdale Dialogues are available at Go to Hillsdale if you have not yet done so this hour or these past two years. Go to, sign up for Imprimus, which is the absolutely free speech digest that will give you everything that they do up at Hillsdale that you want to know, and all of the online courses from Hillsdale are available there. Dr. West, did you do one of the online courses on Hobbes?

TW: We haven’t gotten to Hobbes, yet. I’ve been on the courses on the Constitution, and on progressivism.

HH: Do you anticipate doing the one on Hobbes?

LA: Yeah, probably, but we have to solve a problem, because I tried to give this to your listeners. The standard Hobbes, which you started with, if you add my two points, you know, about depreciation of reason and the life of, the low life of pleasure and ignobility, that’s Hobbes. And so Tom is disputing that, and in my opinion, it’s a great service. But you have to understand, and so if Tom teaches it, and he probably is the one who should teach it, we have to make sure we convey what he’s rebelling against.

HH: Yes.

LA: …to people.

HH: You’ll need me there to set up the antagonist. Thank you all.

End of interview.


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Friends and Allies of Rome