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twisted_apples in hobbes_matters

from "Hobbes on rhetoric"

"Geometry impressed Hobbes not because its truth was self-evident, for he began by rejecting what the theorem before him asserted; rather, he was moved by the experience of being compelled to admit the very thing he had denied in first glancing at the text. Here was a speech that could inexorably oblige us to see things a given way, in the face of no little resistance; and it was a revelation to him. One might therefore speculate that his putting himself to the task of mastering geometry was also to figure out how he himself might produce a similar effect elsewhere. Yet another facet to Hobbes's attachment to geometry has often been remarked: his recognition that Euclidean geometry persuaded him as it did because it constituted its own artificial truth. That is, once one enters the system of proof, its sheer internal coherence fashions the sense of a proposition's demonstrativeness. So the criterion of knowledge in Hobbes arguably comes down to a particular idea of verbal persuasion that has to do less with the sensation of belief than with a certain force and clarity of understanding that enables us to see for ourselves that something must be the case."
- Victoria Silver, from "Hobbes on rhetoric," from The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, pp. 332-333

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June 2008

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