26 Chapter 2
THE NATURE OF REALITY
This is a recipe for war-time coalitions only. Ann, Tim, and Laya
do not change their 'natures' as "the One" just because they temporarily
cooperated to defeat being 'Ben'd.' They have just as much motivation
to 'Ann,' 'Tim' or 'Laya' Ben as he has to 'Ben' them. They also have
just as much justification. Remember, it's no fair -- it's impossible -- to
appeal to some Name, some One, that, by 'making' everyone have a
particular place, ends these disputes. According to this 'solution,' there
is no such One, and there can not be such a One, if human freedom is
to exist. Ironically, then, the existence of 'freedom' requires that all
disputes between Ones be resolved solely in terms of how much power
each One has.
Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth-century English philosopher,
proposed a solution to the interminable warfare between Ones that
amounts to another spelling exercise, except that, instead of spelling
out "Ben," we all get together and voluntarily spell out "Leviathan,"
the Big Guy of our own mutual creation, who speaks softly but carries
a whopping big stick, thereby scaring us all into further civility, giving
each of us a certain amount of respite from warfare and from the Bens
of the world. Hobbes's Big Guy was the King. In an earlier work, he
said that the original Big Guy was democracy, but that would
inevitably fail, necessitating the Real Big Guy, a powerful monarchy,
to which we once-and-for-all surrender ourselves, in order to have a
goodly amount of freedom to move about in the space, without
perpetually having to fight off attempts to Ben, Laya, Ann, or Tim us.
1. Hobbes T ( 1651). Leviathan, or the matter,
forme and power of a commonwealth
ecclesiasticall and civil. (The frontispiece to the
original edition, designed by Hobbes himself, has
a drawing of the Big Guy. If you look at the
drawing closely, you can see that the Big Guy is
indeed composed of jillions of little guys, little
Although it begins by finding a place for 'real' freedom,
"inalienable" rights, by assuming that everyone has this freedom and
these rights by virtue of being "the One," Hobbes's picture does not
seem that different from the picture of "One" spelled out by all those
"many's," (or even from the spelling-out of "Ben").
(Ann, Ben, Laya, and Tim have each decided to
be one of the jillions of tiny dots which,
combined, spell out this Big Guy's name:
The correspondence results because Hobbes never abandoned the
basic assumption within which his 'problem' was 'solved:' the rational
necessity of his monarch. Leviathan is an inevitable, and therefore, a
rational, working out of the basic principles governing Ones moving
about 'freely' in 'space.' Hobbes wanted his parallel to Galileo's New
Physics of bodies in motion to be exact; indeed, he wanted it to be not
a parallel, but exactly the same case. We are not like Ones,
independent bodies in motion, governed by rationally necessary Laws.
That is, exactly, what we are, and solely that.
Yet perhaps Hobbes can be celebrated, because he made a higher-
quality mistake than many of his predecessors. He realized that, in
many traditional formulations, in which our name was "many," we had
no "rights," no "freedom" of movement, but only a 'place.' By making
us all Ones, he tried to solve this problem. Thus, given the dilemma
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.