Thomas Hobbes’ Ideas on the Structure of the Mind

Thomas Hobbes’ Ideas on the Structure of the Mind

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

So far, the motion of displaced bodies has been the subject. Hobbes adds to this basic form of movement the animal and human vitality movement and volitional movements. While the movements of vitality are movements such as feeding and breathing that start with birth and continue throughout life, voluntary movements are movements such as speaking and walking.

The source of these movements is in our minds and they are often preceded by a thought. What is called the mind is also a movement in the brain; Images and ideas are born as a result of this movement. The movements in the brain and heart are the movements of a material substance. In this respect, although Hobbes is a materialist, he exhibits a different materialism regarding mental formations; here states of consciousness are no longer motion but effects of motion. At the root of mentality is an impulse or effort; this is what Spinoza calls conatus.

If this effort is directed towards something that causes it, desire, desire; If it is aimed at getting away from something, it takes names such as avoidance, hate. Some cravings and aversions, such as cravings for food, are innate. These are called appetites. Their satisfaction leads to liking, happiness, their unsatisfaction leads to discontent and unhappiness. From the different forms of desire and avoidance we encounter psychic acts called passion or emotion; The essence of these is also movement: external objects affect the sense organs, from which the movement and stimulation of the brain, which we call designing, arises, the brain transmits this movement to the heart and passions are formed there (cited in Copleston, 1991: 49).

According to Hobbes, the mind is a movement in the brain and images or ideas emerge as a result of this movement.

According to Hobbes, the simple passions are emotions, desire, love, fear, disgust, hatred, joy and sadness, and they take different forms. If we consider whether people get what they want or not, we can talk about hope and despair. Hope is the strength to want any object, and despair is the weakness of that will. For example, the desire for wealth can be called greed, and the desire to get ahead can be called greed. The desire to love someone as one and be loved as one is called the passion of love or love. However, the fear that love is not mutual is called jealousy. We can call a passion the movement itself. Sudden collapse is an example of this. All these acts are nothing but mental-qualified phenomena of bodily movements.

As for the will, Hobbes is aware that people perform certain actions by contemplation, but he considers this reflection in terms of emotions: “The sum of desires, disgusts, hopes, and fears sustained until something is either done or thought impossible is what we call deliberation (as cited in Copleston). , 1991: 50). According to Hobbes, voluntary acts also exist in animals. The last wish or avoidance in reflection is called the act of will or will. Action is optional in this last, and because it is in these animals, they also display volitional behavior. Freedom of will is equal in both species.

All emotions are merely mental-qualified phenomena of bodily movements.

The will is the final act of contemplation.

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