Locke on conscience

He now thought that a law to which we conscientiously object is an imposition on our conscience and that we should disobey it. At the same time, however, we are bound "quietly to submit to the penalty the law inflicts".

Roger Woolhouse Locke: a Biography, p84

This is what contemporary "martyrs" don't understand, I think. "Quietly" need not mean "without protest", but certainly without the disingenuous claims that it is somehow immoral or outrageous that they should be subject to a law which goes against their conscience.


Yale and Hobbes

I'm listening to Steven B Smith's podcasts from Yale, an introductory course in political philosophy. Good so far (Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli), albeit rather smug and Smith is obviously one of those people who sees the American constitution as the perfect ideal that lesser nations are blindly struggling towards.

However, he has got on to Hobbes now and I'm wincing. A fulsome introduction claiming Leviathan is to English prose as Paradise Lost is to epic poetry, and then some really horrendous errors in the overview of Hobbes's life. Some may seem trivial - Hobbes's father famously disappeared after a fight outside the church where he was vicar, and his uncle paid for his education (Smith says his father was a "pastor" and sent him to Oxford). Hobbes left England in 1640, before the civil war broke out, under threat of imprisonment by parliament for his outspoken royalism, although he did write Leviathan during the war (Smith has him driven out of England by rampaging "republican" armies led by Cromwell, who in fact did not lead the army until well into the civil war). But to say that Leviathan endorses the view that "the sovereign owes his authority to the will or the consent of those he governs"? The sovereign owes his authority to the social contract, and once that contract is in effect, the will and consent of the subjects is completely irrelevant - Hobbes has a lot to say about the transfer of authority in the book. I haven't even started Martinich's biography of Hobbes yet, and all these things are familiar to me, so I would expect a professor at Yale, especially one who spends so much time self-importantly talking about how he's teaching the American elite, to have done his homework a little better.