Hobbes and a "Discourse of Laws": response to Fortier.
Bacon's Aphorisms and Hobbes's "A Discourse of Laws"
Fortier unfortunately does not offer a reading of Bacon's Aphorisms such that a reader can assess its intellectual relation to Hobbes's text; by focusing on a small number of aphorisms, he neither sets them into context nor identifies arguments in Bacon's newly discovered work that are contrary to those in Hobbes's "Discourse." I begin by summarizing briefly the content and texture of Bacon's Aphorisms.
The full title, Aphorisms de Jure gentium maiore sive de fontibus Justiciae et Juris, drawing on the language of traditional natural law theory, reveals its content. Though Bacon claims novelty for his text (p. 248),(4) language such as "equity has suffused and penetrated the very nature of human society" (p. 272) or "the practiced wit of man finds and declares justice and equity, it does not create it" (p. 290) identify the tradition within which Bacon is writing -- and it is precisely from this tradition that Hobbes's "Discourse" is struggling to break free.
Bacon's Aphorisms includes: an Introduction which assigns statesmen the task of identifying the fountains of natural equity; "About the origins and vicissitudes of Laws" (Aphorisms 1-11, largely concerning changes in laws); "The authority and obligation of laws" (Aphorisms 12-19, arguing that laws are not based on consent and that the populace ought not evaluate rulers); and "About those things that are not legislated" (Aphorism 20 addressing the incentives to obey laws [opinions, custom, and fear] and concluding that laws do not lead men to virtue, but are largely "constructed as boundaries in the course of peace time" [p. 299]).
Hobbes's "borrowings" come only from the Introduction and the first section.(5) He leaves alone the legitimacy of popular questioning of the laws, even if the ruler received power from the people's consent; he leaves alone the question of subjection to laws in a country where one travels; and he leaves alone references to how nature limits human will and how humans "discover," but do not create, justice. Avoiding reference to the discovery of the natural fountains of justice, the first section of Hobbes's "Discourse" describes laws as the "rule, by application whereunto, right and wrong are discerned" (p. 505/105).(6) Hobbes notes the necessity for and benefits of rules by which we distinguish "Just and unlawful" (p. 507/106). Without them, society dissolves and there follows "a diminution of our substances, a general disconsolation in our life, and a certain separation from all trade with strangers" (p. 515/109).
At the conclusion of this section on laws' benefits (about the first third of Hobbes's "Discourse"), Hobbes begins in mid-paragraph his "borrowing" from Bacon, first from Aphorism 10(7) in which Bacon, after quoting the Bible that the serpent will bite one who tramples a hedge, had compared the "debilitation of laws in the civil body" to a spasm in the natural body (p. 280).(8) Hobbes, not citing the Bible, inveighs against those "insensible creatures" who "declaim against obedience" and then repeats Bacon's image about spasms almost exactly. Hobbes continues the dependence on Bacon, but with differences. Bacon writes of "a general debilitation (enervatio);" Hobbes has "a general dissolution."(9) Bacon simply continues that dissolution and decay come from such a "debilitation," while Hobbes calls "decay and dissolution ... immediate and unavoidable successors." Hobbes expands the translation and meaning of the borrowed passage, as he does for the rest of the paragraph. For example, Bacon writes: "it is better to live where nothing is allowed (nihil liceat) than where force does what it will" (p. 280). Hobbes "translates" this: "a man had better choose to live where no thing, than where all things be lawful." Hobbes focuses attention on law and human choice and does not mention force. Bacon asserts that anarchy is infestior than tyranny; Hobbes introduces the generic human being: "all men have thought it more dangerous to live in an Anarchy than under a tyrant's government" (p. 516/109). Bacon then turns to the preference for the libidines of one person (which are directed to certos) to those of a multitude (directed to an infinitos). Hobbes writes: "the violent desires of one, must necessarily be tied to particulars, in a multitude they are indefinite" (p. 517/109). Among Fortier's exhibits, this is probably the closest borrowing, but while Hobbes's language recalls Bacon's Latin, the translation is not slavish; it expands the text, eliminates some words, and adds other.(10)
Hobbes's next paragraph continues Bacon's image of the body, but in a way that distinguishes his arguments from Bacon's. Hobbes writes that the "body Politic cannot subsist without soul to [in]animate." The "inanimating" soul is law which comes from "the reason, counsels, and judgments of wise men" (p. 517/109), not from the fountains of justice. Even religion depends on laws, the reason of wise men. Two paragraphs later Hobbes writes that we receive more benefit from Law than from Nature (p. 520/110), a claim hardly consistent with Aphorism 18 where "the practiced wit of man" finds, but not does not declare, justice and equity. While occasionally employing Bacon's metaphors and language, these passages from Hobbes's youthful pen, asserting the necessity for human craft to control natural chaos, reveal the radical beginnings of Hobbes's thought and his legacy to the modern political perspective.
After several more paragraphs praising laws' power to give rules by which we order our lives, Hobbes turns to Aphorism 8. The context of the passage in each work, though, is distinct. Hobbes has been speaking of the invention of laws; Aphorism 8 occurs in the middle of Bacon's extended excursus on changes in laws already in use. Bacon's aphorism begins "Particular alterations (novationes) of laws" (p. 279); Hobbes "translates": "But the particular introductions of Laws."(11) In Bacon's version, the author of these "alterations" may act from industria; in Hobbes this becomes "foreseeing and provisional carefulness." Bacon's next sentence has providentia animi. Hobbes's providential "introducer" requires only foresight; animus is tellingly omitted (p. 525/111). Hobbes's text includes three forms of "providence" on the part of the lawgiver, Bacon's only one. Hobbes's lawgiver, introducing laws, foresees the advantages against nature (as noted in his previous paragraphs) that laws bring.
The rest of Hobbes's paragraph and Aphorism 8 elaborate briefly on laws that arise from a sense of evil or from reason; while the meaning of the two passages does not differ, the translation is not literal.(12) Aphorism 9 (which Hobbes ignores) continues the medicinal metaphor; Hobbes moves instead to the passage from Bacon's Introduction on the fountains of justice.(13) Bacon's passage occurs amidst exhortations that statesmen (civiles viros), not philosophers or lawyers, be responsible for partaking of "a higher science to comprehend the force of equity that has suffused ... society" (p. 272); Hobbes's passage on the fountains of justice follows statements about the foresight of the lawmaker and incentives for lawmaking. Bacon writing of fountains refers twice to "civil" law; Hobbes eliminates "civil" both times and by the end of the passage turns to what "wise men" have in view. Though he may not mean the philosophers Bacon scorns, he does not refer to viri civiles or viri ... politici whom Bacon praises.(14)
After Hobbes considers the principles guiding wise men making laws, namely, the public good, and narrows the focus to the persons to whom the laws are to apply and the particularities of place, "for one kind of care is not fit for all places," he turns to whether laws ought to change and Aphorism 5. Aphorism 4 had emphasized the potential power of one individual to bring people together more effectively than laws. Aphorism 5 thus follows assertions of the infirmity, rather than the strength, of laws. Hobbes's "borrowed" passage follows his claim that laws "once made, ought very rarely to be changed," but adds "the alteration of the Laws may turn to the better" and thus turns Bacon's aphorism into a discussion of the potential benefits of change. He concludes that change derived from foreign custom reflects only desire for change, not "any cause that is material," while changes coming from altered circumstances are "altogether necessary" (p. 513/113). Hobbes greatly expands Bacon's aphorism, which briefly notes the trouble and harshness of retaining customs against "the reason of time" and the disturbances that come from the introduction of foreign customs.(15) In Hobbes the passage becomes an argument for a lawmaker's responsiveness to changing conditions. In Bacon, failure to change is equal to novelty; both bring turbulence.
Hobbes continues the theme of change in his next paragraph, when he jumps from Aphorism 5 to 11. Here Bacon claims that retaining the old is "in fact embracing a novelty" (p. 281). Bacon's discussion concerns the trampling on laws; taking from Bacon the phrase "time ... the greatest innovator" (p. 529/114), Hobbes contests claims that laws must not change, but while Bacon credits time with giving birth to "our mechanical devices," Hobbes omits references to "devices" and moves directly to "old Law." Isolated phrases like time as an innovator and the theme that not to change is, given alterations over time, to change characterize both Hobbes's and Bacon's passages, but careful study of the two paragraphs readily demonstrates that this passage is one of the most problematic of Fortier's exhibits.
Even more problematic is the last exhibit based on Aphorism 9 where the only consistent similarities between the two are analogies with medicine and references to "republic" (plural in Bacon). The intent, language, and meaning are not the same. Bacon presents medicine as innovation; changes in republics, like medicine, should not come too quickly. Hobbes focuses on how the multiplicity and diversity of laws are "manifest signs of a diseased and distempered Commonwealth" (p. 510/115). For Bacon, instituting new laws is similar to sick people seeking new medicines, whereas Hobbes sees the new laws as needless when the old ones satisfy and he continues to point out that a multitude(16) of laws is "a thing both unequal and unjust" (531/115), a phrase missing in Bacon.
Hobbes's selective borrowings from the Bacon manuscript may indicate the limited range of topics on which Hobbes agreed with Bacon. Near the end of his "Discourse," after all references to Bacon's Aphorisms are left behind, Hobbes defends English laws against the aspersion cast upon them for "being different and contrary to the original beginning of the civil Law" (p. 536/116-17). This may refer to the debate between Edward Coke, defender of English common law, and Bacon, the self-proclaimed reformer of "the multiplicity and incertainties" of English laws."(17) In the "Discourse," Hobbes refutes Bacon's critique of English law by identifying parallel institutions in Roman and English law and defending common law.
While some of the language certainly recalls Bacon's words, it is set into Hobbes's framework. The multiple discrepancies between Bacon's and Hobbes's texts show that Hobbes is not here simply a translator of Bacon -- and that Bacon cannot be the author of the "Discourse." Fortier repeats that 15 percent of the "Discourse" is from a translation of outside sources; given the flexibility of Hobbes's translations, that is clearly an exaggeration. In the few selected passages drawn on Bacon's work, Hobbes gives his own twist to the meanings of Bacon's words by expanding on passages and rearranging the Baconian text to suit his own purposes -- and never does he adopt the central themes of Bacon's Aphorisms such that one might suspect that the author of the Aphorisms could also have been the author of "A Discourse of Laws."
Wordprinting and Authorship of "A Discourse of Laws"
We respond first to Fortier's criticism of wordprinting, addressing his arguments in the order he presented them. Severe space limitations preclude explaining again the wordprinting procedures. The reader should consult our Hobbes volume or Fortier's mostly adequate summary. Fortier builds his argument on a much stronger claim about paraphrasing than we have ever advanced or that could be defended by any wordprinting studies. While we recognized that even paraphrased materials could preserve the wordprint of an underlying source text, this is true only if the paraphrased derivatives preserve the same noncontextual-word patterns that we count in our statistical analysis. A cursory review of the 65 patterns established by A. Q. Morton and listed in our Hobbes volume (pp. 166-69) shows that these are quite different than the similarities that can be demonstrated between the Aphorisms and Hobbes's "Discourse." When Fortier criticizes our analysis for failing to pick up this intrusion of foreign materials, he fails to acknowledge that most paraphrasing obliterates the wordprint of the source text and imposes the wordprint of the secondary author.
Fortier's first argument claims that adding the Bacon borrowings to the excerpt from "Religion" which we included to make the "Discourse" long enough for analysis would bring the borrowed materials up to 30 percent of the total. Any analysis that could not detect that much foreign material must be flawed. This argument only works if you assume that paraphrased materials always preserve the wordprint of the underlying source, which clearly is not the case. As will also be shown below, Fortier's critique has provided us with the occasion to extend our analysis of this "Discourse," using other known Hobbes materials in lieu of "Religion" to provide the needed expansion for statistical analysis.
Fortier anticipated this response and argues two ways against it. Unfortunately, the first response constitutes a misreading of two passages in other works where Hilton and Reynolds have discussed the wordprinting of translations. In one "quotation," Fortier carelessly substitutes his own "writing style" for our "wordprint results."(18) Our point there was nothing more than the obvious fact that translation technique can affect wordprints, which, of course, is fully consistent with our explanation that Hobbes could have imposed his own wordprint on his loose translations of Bacon's aphorisms. In the other source cited by Fortier, Hilton reported a study in which three different German writers were carefully translated into English by the same translator. In that study, Hilton found that for this particular case, the translated works of the three authors could be distinguished from each other and from the English writings of the translator.(19) Hilton properly recognized that he had only demonstrated the possibility of preserving a wordprint in translation against the likelihood that many or most translations may not accomplish this. But in patching these two passages together, Fortier wants to attribute to us the general claim "that a translator does not write in the same style when translating the works of others as he does when composing his own works."(20) In so doing, he has converted a single instance into a general rule -- and then attributed it to us! While some translators impose their own wordprint on translations, others do not. There is no way to know without checking in each case.
Second, Fortier claims that the borrowings from the Aphorisms are "exceedingly literal" translations and thus likely to preserve Bacon's wordprint. As shown above, the translations are hardly "exceedingly literal." Further, given the different sentence structure between Latin and English with regard to verb and noun placement, as well as the inflected character of Latin and not of English, we see no reason to doubt that the author of the "Discourse" has imposed his wordprint on the materials borrowed from Aphorisms.
Fortier points to the colons that precede some of these borrowings, suggesting that the author of the "Discourse" intended them as quotations, inexplicably assuming continuity between twentieth century and seventeenth century printing conventions. As an indication of seventeenth-century practices, we need note only the punctuation used in the rest of the Horae where colons are used for a full stop and where italics are used to indicate quotations. The Bacon borrowings in Hobbes's "Discourse" are never italicized; other quotations are.
Fortier proceeds to a detailed criticism of our preliminary effort to find a stable wordprint in Bacon's writings so that his work could be used as a control for the Horae study When that effort proved unsuccessful, we proceeded without a Bacon wordprint because we had more than enough controls already with our standard English authors baseline study and the Fulke Greville materials that were added for this particular study. Unfortunately, Fortier was not aware that Reynolds and Hilton have since solved the Bacon wordprint mystery.(21) We were unable to find a consistent Bacon wordprint until we limited the sample exclusively to his handwritten letters, when a perfectly coherent and consistent wordprint emerged. Although Fortier gives considerable attention to the absence of a Bacon wordprint in our Hobbes study, his justifiable concern is now beside the point, and the issue has been clearly resolved in a thorough empirical analysis of all the available evidence.
While we were confident in attributing the "Discourse" to Hobbes in our 1996 volume, there were loose ends. Fortier's critique provides us with an opportunity to tie them up. We first addressed the concern that our statistical analysis of the "Discourse" might be flawed because: (1) it included materials excerpted and translated from Bacon's "Aphorisms of Law"; and (2) we had brought it up to the requisite 4998 words by borrowing 806 words from another Horae essay, "On Religion," which proved not to be written by the author of the "Discourse." To resolve these doubts, we first removed the 806 words from "On Religion" and the six short passages that draw on Bacon's Latin Aphorisms from our text of the "Discourse" thus eliminating both sources of possible wordprint contamination. The text remaining contained 3447 words -- 70 percent of the required amount for statistical analysis. We then created 15 expanded versions of this text by taking the additional 30 percent from 5 works each of undisputed and proven-typical Hobbes, Bacon, and Greville writings. In the following figures these 15 expanded texts are analyzed in three groups as Cutlaw H (Hobbes), Cutlaw B (Bacon), and Cutlaw G (Greville). Because no undisputed corpus has been identified that would produce a Cavendish wordprint, we could not construct a test group for Cavendish. We tested Hobbes against Cutlaw H, Bacon against Cutlaw B, and Greville against Cutlaw G. Presumably, this would give us a clean test of whether the purified "Discourse" could have been written by any of these three authors. As can be seen from the four graphs in Figure One on the following page, only the Hobbes versions match Cutlaw with the hypothesized author. Both the Bacon and the Greville versions of Cutlaw produce typical between-author results when compared with Bacon and Greville respectively So even when 30 percent of the text is derived alternatively from 5 verified Bacon writings, none of these versions of the "Discourse" matches Bacon's wordprint. The differences between Bacon's wordprint and that of the other 70 percent of the "Discourse" are sufficient to make it test as a different author.
[FIGURE 1 GRAPH OMITTED]
Fortier also used his critique of our Hobbes authorship attribution for the "Discourse" to leverage doubts about our attributions for the other Horae discourses on Tacitus and on Rome. While the information provided above removes the grounds for his doubt, we include in Figure Two the graphs summarizing comparisons of these two discourses with the typical writings of Hobbes, Bacon, and Greville. The same patterns of rejections are observed for these two discourses as for the "A Discourse of Laws."
[FIGURE 2 GRAPH OMITTED]
The large differences between the Horae discourses and the wordprints of Bacon and Greville show conclusively that neither can be considered as authors for this material. Fortier is right to point out that Cavendish is not yet eliminated by wordprint analysis. No certifiable writing of Cavendish is yet available to run such tests. Thus, there remains an outside possibility (maximum 2 chances out of a 100) that Cavendish will prove to have the same wordprint as Hobbes and be recognized as a possible author of this material. This, though, almost certainly will not be the case; Cavendish is the most likely candidate for authorship of the remainder of the Horae, which does not match Hobbes's wordprint. Even if Hobbes helped edit or even write the other thirteen essays and "A Discourse Against Flattery," the resulting product bears the stronger stamp of another author.
Fortier argues that the discovery of six passages in the "A Discourse of Laws" which draw on passages in an unpublished manuscript attributed to Bacon, coupled with our earlier failure to find a clear wordprint for Bacon that would exclude Bacon as a possible author of the "Discourse," point to Bacon as a more likely author of the "Discourse" than Hobbes. In reply, we emphasize that the borrowings from Bacon are brief, mostly loose paraphrases and translations, that such paraphrasing rarely preserves an underlying wordprint, and that the content and context of the "Discourse" does not match Bacon's Aphorisms. We retested the text of the "Discourse" against the works of Hobbes, Bacon, and Greville, after eliminating both the suspected Baconian content and other non-Hobbesian text that we previously added to produce a full-sized sample. While it was perfectly possible that this optimized testing procedure could have undermined the earlier attribution of this discourse to Hobbes, it did not. Hobbes stands alone as the author of this discourse. Neither Bacon nor Greville can be the author of the "Discourse."
(1.) Published in Mark Neustadt, "The Making of the Instauration: Science, Politics, and Law in the Career of Francis Bacon" (Ph.D. diss., The Johns Hopkins University. 1987), pp. 247-71. English translation 272-99.
(2.) John C. Fortier, "Hobbes and `A Discourse of Laws': The Perils of Wordprint Analysis."
(3.) Ibid., p. 882.
(4.) Page numbers in the text refer to the Aphorisms as they appear in the appendix to Neustadt's thesis (1987). I rely on his translations unless otherwise noted. Fortier's translations, as I will note below, too often follow Hobbes's English rather than Bacon's Latin.
(5.) Noel B. Reynolds has shown, "Thomas Hobbes's A Discourse of Laws" (Paper delivered at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association in New York City, 1 September 1995) that there are at least 19 and perhaps 25 borrowings from other sources in the "Discourse."
(6.) In text citations of Hobbes's "Discourse" include first the pagination from the original text of the Horae Subsecivae: Observations and Discourses (London: Edward Blount, 1620), followed by pagination from the current edition of the Three Discourses. Since I quote frequently from the same page, references come at the end of a passage.
(7.) The order in which the "borrowings" appear is: Aphorism 10, 8, Introduction, 5, 11, 9.
(8.) Neustadt's translation is inadequate here; he reduces legem in corpore civili to "body politic."
(9.) Fortier translates enervatio (Neustadt's "debilitation") as "dissolution," as does Hobbes, though the Latin word dissolutio appears a few lines below. Hobbes gives the same translation for two different words. Neustadt tries to preserve the distinction between the two Latin words that Hobbes and, following him, Fortier ignore.
(10.) Space limitations prevent pointing to the many places where context and translation clarify differences rather than similarities between the two texts. Some, but not all, will be noted below.
(11.) Fortier translates Bacon's novationes with Hobbes as "introductions," not as Neustadt, "alterations" (or the dictionary's "renovations"). The implications of each term are different, the latter emphasizing change, the former beginnings.
(12.) Hobbes considers the "causes" (a word missing in Bacon) for laws. Among them he includes "affectation of popularity." Bacon had written studio popularitatis. Neustadt correctly translates studio as "eagerness"; Hobbes consciously, we must assume, mistranslates studio as "affectation" (as does Fortier). "Eagerness" and "affectation" are hardly synonyms. (See the essay on "Affectation" included in the Horae.) Further scrutiny reveals the omission of several phrases in Hobbes's borrowing. An example of Hobbes's free translation is where Bacon writes that the laws which grief (dolor) persuades (suadet) are immoderatae, Hobbes writes that laws "forced, out of a sense of mischief and inconviences" are the "grievous and immoderate" ones. Bacon uses only immoderatae. Hobbes frequently finds two adjectives or nouns to replace one in Bacon. In the next phrase, a singular noun (ratio) doubles in Hobbes: "reason and providence." Then stimulus becomes "spur and sense of ill"; incautio becomes "careless and unwary"; and the adjective languidos becomes an extended verbal phrase: "faint in the execution" (p. 524/112).
(13.) As I noted in comments on this discourse in our edition of the Three Discourses, this passage seems peculiarly out of place (Saxonhouse et al., Three Discourses [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995], p. 152). That this is borrowed from Bacon may explain its awkwardness.
(14.) In this borrowing, patterns of expansion and change in Hobbes's rendering continue: "justice and equity" are general for all laws in Hobbes; Bacon limits the discussion to civil laws. Bacon's civil laws are infected with naturalem aequitatem. Hobbes leaves it as "Laws and the virtue of them." When Bacon introduces his image of veins of water, Hobbes adds "currents"; likewise, Bacon's soli becomes "ground and soil." Bacon's prudentia becomes "virtue" with the addition "which be fetched from the original fountain." Consistently, the additional words create patterns which are among the tests used for wordprint analysis.
Fortier ends Exhibit 3 before Hobbes has finished the sentence in which he writes: there are "sundry other occurrences that give a tincture" to the laws, but he "will not stand to repeat." Hobbes's paragraph ends by turning to "wise men" (p. 525/113); Bacon continues his Introduction by commenting on the novelty of the Aphorisms that are to follow (p. 248).
(15.) In this borrowing Hobbes again doubles a single noun ("change and variation" for mutationes) and for Bacon's reference to "foreign customs" and "internal causes," Hobbes writes of "entertaining foreign customs" and of "internal deficiencies, or excesses," expanding as well Bacon's "of times" to "the alteration of time." Hobbes then includes a passage distinguishing between the two sources of change -- one necessary, the other "argu[ing] a desire of change" before returning to the aphorism where Hobbes adds a reference to "old and ancient customs," qualifies harshness with "a kind of," and adds that these ancient customs "breed safety" (p. 528/114).
(16.) Accumulatio ... legum in Bacon, translated by Fortier with Hobbes as "multitude," by Neustadt as "abundance."
(17.) See the account of this failed Baconian reform project in Julian Martin, Francis Bacon, the State, and the Reform of Natural Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 106-129.
(18.) Noel B. Reynolds and John L. Hilton, "Thomas Hobbes and the Authorship of the Horae Subsecivae," History of Political Thought 14 (1994): 368.
(19.) John L. Hilton, "Book of Mormon Wordprint Studies," BYU Studies 30 (1990): 97.
(20.) Fortier, "Hobbes and the `Discourse of Laws': The Perils of Wordprint Anaylsis," p. 882.
(21.) Their preliminary report resolving the Bacon wordprint issues was presented first at the 1995 joint conference of the International Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing and the Association for Computers in the Humanities in Santa Barbara, CA. It was subsequently published in Noel B. Reynolds and John L. Hilton, "The Authorship of Francis Bacon's Works," International Hobbes Association Newsletter, New Series, 20/21/22 (1996): 1-4. Of interest to Bacon scholars is that only one of Bacon's published English works matches his wordprint closely, lending support to the suspicions of many Bacon analysts that he relied heavily on a stable of "secretaries" in the production of his enormous output. Readers interested in the details of our Bacon study should consult the published 1996 preliminary report and the complete study which we hope to publish in the near future.
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|Title Annotation:||response to article by John Fortier in this issue, p. 861|
|Author:||Hilton, John L.; Reynolds, Noel B.; Saxonhouse, Arlene W.|
|Publication:||The Review of Politics|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1997|
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