The Method of Philosophy for Thomas HobbesJune 28, 2021
Hobbes, influenced by Descartes, adopted methodological rationalism, that is, the understanding of making inferences based on initial principles. According to him, the deductive hypothetical method constitutes the main axis of reasoning in philosophy. Hobbes said, “I understand reasoning as computation,” and he stated that computation is addition and subtraction.
It is understood that he uses these terms in the sense of combining and analyzing. The analytical method is analytical and the unifying method is synthetic. The philosophical method includes this analysis and unification. In analysis, the mind moves from the particular to the universal, that is, to first principles. In combining, the mind moves on to establish their effects, starting from principles or general causes. The whole process of determining causal relationships, the method of discovery, in Hobbes’ terms, is partly analytic, partly combinatorial; that is, it is to some extent inductive and to some extent deductive. This method is similar to the Galilean method. Hobbes also distinguishes between the method of invention and the method of demonstration. In the demonstration or instructive method, we start with first principles that cannot be demonstrated any further, and then draw conclusions by inference. With this structure, the method of identification is combined.
According to Hobbes, the philosophical method is partly inductive and partly deductive.
Hobbes emphasizes the importance of mathematics in the method bet. According to him, all applied sciences owe their development to mathematics. There is a close connection between physics and mathematics. To study natural philosophy, it is necessary to start with the knowledge of geometry. He states that in order to obtain a knowledge of morality and politics as required by the combinatorial method, it is necessary to study mathematics and physics first, because the combinatorial method involves seeing all effects as proximate or distant consequences from first principles. But as a person who has asserted the relative independence of the fields of morality and politics, he has to state that new empirical data will also be needed when dealing with human psychology and human social and political life. And this cannot happen without resorting to the parser method.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook