Workshop on vice, sin, and sociability in early modern moral and political philosophy

The workshop will take place 11-12 April 2022 at the University of Jyväskylä. There will also be an opportunity to follow the talks online. To attend the workshop, contact Niklas Hintsa at niasjohi@jyu.fi, specifying whether you intend to participate in person or online.

The workshop is organised by Academy of Finland project, Vicious, Antisocial and Sinful: The social and political dimension of moral vices from medieval to early modern philosophy(https://www.jyu.fi/hytk/fi/laitokset/yfi/en/research/projects/research-groups/vas), and it is funded by the Kone Foundation.

Workshop program:

Monday, 11 April

9.45 Welcome and introduction
10.00 Henrik Lagerlund: Suarez on Sin and Punishment
11.00 Gianni Paganini: Original sin, natural man and sociability in Thomas Hobbes

12.00-13.15 Lunch break

13.15 Jil Muller: Marie de Gournay and Michel de Montaigne: a lie as a vice for public utility
14.15 Heikki Haara and Tim Stuart-Buttle: ‘The proper degree of dependence’: the desire for esteem in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophy

15.15-15.45 Coffee break

15.45 Ana Alicia Carmona Aliaga: Passions and self-esteem as the foundation of society in Pierre Bayle’s thought
16.45-17.40 Michael Moriarty: Self-love and social interaction: Augustinian perspectives

Tuesday, 12 April

10.00 Matthias Roick: Bad Tempers and the Vices of Discontent. Ethics, Medicine and Early Modern Forms of Sociability
11.00 Michael Jaworzyn: Occasionalism, Self-love, and Sociability in Early Modern Leiden, Berlin, and Bremen

12.00-13.15 Lunch break

13.15 Cesare Cuttica: The Unexpected Vices of Democracy from Plato to Dewey via Early Modern England
14.15 Martina Reuter: Male Tyranny as Moral and Political Vice

15.15-15.45 Coffee break

15.45 Michael Gill: British Moralist Responses to Recalcitrant Vice
16.45-17.15 Closing remarks and discussion 

Impressions of the Third Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society

“…it is against his duty, to let the people be ignorant, or misinformed of the grounds, and reasons of those his essential rights; because thereby men are easy to be seduced, and drawn to resist him, when the commonwealth shall require their use and exercise.”

Hobbes, Leviathan, XXX.3

From 18-20 Nov 2021, 15 scholars from 10 different countries and for the first time 8 graduate students from the University of Zagreb gathered together in the old and beautiful Mediterranean city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the Third Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society. As always, it was a joy to see familiar faces as well as to introduce new ones. 

It should be noted that the whole organization was a challenge due to the ongoing Covid-19 related crises. First, the conference had to postponed for a year as the epidemiological situation did not allow majority people to travel. As the Covid-19 global pandemic is still preventing some people from travel, some speakers were unable to attend in the end. Despite all these challenges and missing faces we had thoughtful presentations and productive discussions. Precisely, we had twelve new interesting papers on Hobbes, covering various topics related to Hobbes’s thought from those related to interpretation of Sommerville’s work as it was the case with the opening talk of S.A. Lloyd, to George Wright’s project related to translating the Latin Leviathan, Hobbes’s arguments about religion discussed by Asaf Sokolowski, the relation between Hobbes and Enlightenment by Luc Foisneau, a reconstruction of Hobbes’s state of nature through the work of Thucydides by Luka Ribarević, interpretations of Hobbes’s view on injustice and injury by Johan Olsthoorn, criticism related to Hobbes’s political science by Adrian Blau, etc. 

The full program can be found here.  

We are very grateful to the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia for providing us as organizers with grants making this EHS conference possible, as well as the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik for hosting us and offering the grants allowing our grad students to participate in the conference. Thanks also goes out to all participants, both for coming in Dubrovnik as well as for shaping this small epistemic community and inducing an inspiring and thoughtful conversation on various aspects of Hobbes’s work.

The Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik will be open for hosting similar events and workshops in the future. We continue to welcome initiatives for various events under the aegis of the EHS. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the Fourth Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society will be organized by Daniel Eggers, at the University of Regensburg, Germany, in August 2023. Until then, stay safe and enjoy Hobbes!

Programme of the Third Biennial EHS Conference (Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik 18-20th November 2021)

Programme:

Wednesday 17th November 2021

19:00 Dinner – Inter-University Centre building Dubrovnik

Thursday 18th November 2021 

10:00-10:10 Opening talk by the organisers 

Session 1: 

10:10-11:10 S. A. Lloyd: Philosophical Support for Sommerville on Hobbes and Independency (University of Southern California)

11:20-12:20 Gianni Paganini: When Nothing Counts. The Annihilation Hypothesis in Hobbes’ Work (University of Piedmont and Research Center of the Accademia dei Lincei Rome)

12:20-13:30 Lunch, served in the Inter-University Centre building

13:30-15:00 City tour 

Session 2: 

15:30-16:30 George Wright: On Translating the Latin Leviathan (University of Wisconsin Madison)

16:40-17:40 Francesca Rebasti (coauthor Serge Heiden, IHRIM, ENS de Lyon): “Thomas       Hobbes and the Bible”: A Textometric Approach to H. W. Jones’s Agenda (IGB,     INSA Lyon – IHRIM, ENS de Lyon)

19:00 Conference dinner, served at the Inter-University Centre building

Friday 19th November 

Session 4: 

10:00-11:00 Luc Foisneau: Against Philosophical Darkness: A Political conception of Enlightenment (EHESS Paris)

11:10-12:10 Luka Ribarević: Natural Condition of Mankind in Leviathan: A View from Peloponnesus (University of Zagreb)

12:15-13:30 Lunch, served in the Inter-University Centre building

Session 5: 

13:35-14:35 Gonzalo Bustamante: Hobbes and the Possibility of a Zoopolis (Adolfo   Ibáñez University Santiago de Chile)

14:45-15:45 Asaf Sokolowski: The ‘Tohu-Bohu’ Fool and His Defiance of Creation

15:45-16:15 Coffee break

Session 6: 

16:15-17:15 Johan Olsthoorn: Hobbes on Injustice and Injury (University of    Amsterdam)

17:25-18:25 Adrian Blau: Hobbes’s Failed Political Science (King’s College London)

19:30 Informal dinner; venue TBA 

Saturday 20th November 

Session 7: 

9:30-10:30 Kajetan Kubala: Hobbes and the persona perpetua of the State (Queen Mary, University of London)

10:40-11:40 Marko Simendić: The True Gods of Leviathan (University of Belgrade)

11:45-12:30 General meeting of the European Hobbes Society

12:30 Concluding lunch served in the Inter-University Centre building

Call for abstracts: Third Biennial Conference of the EHS

The Third Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society will be held at the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th November 2021.

In addition to the papers presented by invited speakers, we have reserved a number of slots for papers to be selected from a blind-reviewed call for abstracts. We thus invite abstracts of no more than 300 words (longer abstracts will not be considered) by the end of Wednesday 8th September 2021. We welcome abstracts on any aspect of Hobbes’s thought. Abstracts should be emailed to hrvoje.cvijanovic@fpzg.hr in a Word file by the deadline.

Successful applicants will be informed by Wednesday 15th September 2021. The conference will follow the usual format of the European Hobbes Society, with all papers pre-circulated in advance to allow for optimal discussion and feedback during the conference itself. With this in mind, successful applicants will need to have a full draft of their paper (no longer than 9,000 words, including all references) ready to circulate by Monday 1st November 2021. Accommodation expenses are covered for all the speakers and there is no registration fee for the conference. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover travel expenses of successful applicants.

Attendance at the conference is free and open to all European Hobbes Society members, but the number of places is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants are strongly encouraged to have a look at the pre-circulated papers in advance of the conference. Places will of course be reserved for everyone presenting papers, but if you would like to attend in a non-presenting capacity then please email hrvoje.cvijanovic@fpzg.hr to reserve your place.

For further information or queries please contact the conference conveners:
Luka Ribarević (University of Zagreb): luka.ribarevic@fpzg.hr
Hrvoje Cvijanović (University of Zagreb): hrvoje.cvijanovic@fpzg.hr

EHS Mini-Workshop, Amsterdam, 20 Nov 2019

A mini-workshop on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes will be held at the University of Amsterdam (Roeterseilandcampus B1.02) on Wednesday 20 November 2019:

Programme:

13:00-14:15   Johan Olsthoorn (Amsterdam) – ‘Hobbes on the Rights of War’

14:20-15:35   Alexandra Chadwick (Groningen) – ‘Hobbes on the Nature of Man and the Nature of Politics’

15:40-16:55 Alan Nelson (UNC, Chapel Hill) – ‘Leviathan as Science and Why That Matters’

Organized by: Challenges to Democratic Representation (UvA); Amsterdam Centre for Political Thought; European Hobbes Society.

For more information, please contact Eric Schliesser (E.S.Schliesser@uva.nl)

Call for registration: Half-day EHS workshop, Amsterdam, 25/02/19

On Monday 25 February 2019 the European Hobbes Society will organize a half-day workshop at the University of Amsterdam with Prof. Arash Abizadeh (McGill). Prof. Abizadeh is one of the world’s most prominent Hobbes scholars today. Earlier this year, Cambridge University Press published his monograph Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics — a rich and original study of Hobbes’s moral philosophy.

All are welcome; registration is required but free of charge. (johan.olsthoorn@kuleuven.be)

Univ. of Amsterdam
University Library (Vondelzaal)
Singel 425

Provisional program

Monday 25th February 2019

12:30-13:00 Welcome, with coffee and pastries
13:00-13:50 Susanne Sreedhar (Boston University) – ‘Hobbes on Sexual Morality’
13:50-14:40 Alexandra Chadwick (Groningen) – ‘How Hobbesian is Hume on Human Nature?’

14:40-15:00 Coffee break

15:00-15:50 Takuya Okada (Oxford) – ‘Hobbes on Toleration’
15:50-16:20 Johan Olsthoorn (Amsterdam) – ‘Book proposal: Hobbes on Justice’

16:20-16:40 Coffee break

16:40-17:30 Arash Abizadeh (McGill) – ‘Glory and the Evolution of Hobbes’s Theory of War’
17:30 Drinks, followed by dinner

Workshop on “Hobbes & Gender” in Erlangen

From 22 – 23 November 2018, the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg hosted a workshop on “Hobbes & Gender”, which was organised by Eva Odzuck and Alexandra Chadwick in cooperation with the European Hobbes Society.

A variety of international scholars with special interests in Hobbes and feminism were invited to discuss their pre-circulated papers: Sharon Lloyd, Susanne Sreedhar, Joanne Boucher, Joel van Fossen, Alissa MacMillan, Eun Kyung Min, Meghan Robison and Ericka Tucker.

The event was aimed at contextualising Hobbes’s theory of state, power and sovereignty along the lines of natural maternal dominion, the role of what Carol Pateman has called the ‘sexual contract’, and a general understanding of Hobbes’s views on sex and gender. While all participants agreed that sex and gender is a topic with a lot of potential for further research in Hobbes studies, there was strong disagreement about whether Hobbes can be considered as a pioneer in feminist (political) theory, empowering women in their role as natural sovereigns, or whether he ultimately reverts to a naturalistic account of gender roles. Here is the poster and programme.

We would like to thank all workshop participants for their contributions. Also thanks to the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg for making available the workshop venue and to the Office for Gender and Diversity of the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg that kindly supported the event.

A selection of the revised papers will be published in a special issue of Hobbes Studies after a peer review process.

Workshop: “Hobbes: Between Rome and Athens”

Within the framework of Chilean research project “Self-Reflection and Rhetoric in Hobbes: A Proto-Critical Theory?,” directed by Gonzalo Bustamante, the II International Colloquium on Thomas Hobbes will take place on December 3rd and 4th, 2018, at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez Center for Postgraduate Studies. This colloquium is titled “Hobbes: Between Rome and Athens.” This colloquium seeks to explore, from different angles, the influence of Greek and Roman traditions on the ideas of Thomas Hobbes. Keynote speakers are Kinch Hoekstra (University of California, Berkeley), Andrés Rosler (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Marco Geuna (State University of Milan), and Luc Foisneau (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, EHESS). A full programme can be found here.

Hobbes and Gender workshop, 22-23 November: programme and registration

This workshop will be held at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg on 22 and 23 November.  It includes papers from Joanne Boucher (Winnipeg), S. A. Lloyd (Los Angeles), Alissa MacMillan (Antwerp), Eun Kyung Min (Seoul), Meghan Robison (Montclair), Susanne Sreedhar (Boston), Erika Tucker (Milwaukee), and Joel van Fossen (Boston).

To view the programme, click here (pdf).

To register to attend, please email eva.odzuck@fau.de.  Papers will be pre-circulated to all registered attendees. To maximise time for discussion, all attendees will be expected to have had a look at these texts in advance.

The poster can be downloaded here (pdf).

Online Colloquium (5): Reply by Boucher

This online colloquium has been established to discuss David Boucher’s recent book, Appropriating Hobbes: Legacies in Political, Legal, and International Thought. We began with an introduction to the text by Professor Boucher, followed by responses from Howard Williams, Eleanor Curran, and David DyzenhausWe finish this week with a reply by David Boucher. Many thanks to Oxford University Press for supporting this colloquium.

Response to my critics

I am honoured and extremely grateful that three such distinguished scholars have taken the time to consider my arguments and selectively respond to different aspects of Appropriating Hobbes. I began my career examining and criticising the ‘Cambridge School’ of intellectual history, concluding that methodological pluralism enabled us to draw-out different aspects of a thinker’s arguments, enabling us to evaluate them against the various criteria that have emerged to shape our different academic disciplines.[1] I had hoped to escape the necessity of returning to methodological justifications, but selectively examining how Hobbes has been received and manipulated in different contexts necessitated a justificatory framework to hold the whole project together, which two of my critics use to hoist me by my own petard. The principal claim that there is no Hobbes independent of our interpretations of him, is I admit contentious, but at least to me it seems obvious. David Dyzenhaus is the most disappointed that I do not by-pass Hobbes’s interpreters and spend more time attending to Hobbes’s actual arguments. He then seems unwittingly to confirm my contention by using Oakeshott and Kelson as interpreters of Hobbes who are said to help us a good deal to understand the complexity of Hobbes’s theory of law, which funnily enough looks very like their own theories of law. There is a certain irony in directing me to Oakeshott in that he too was accused of ignoring what Hobbes actually said.[2] Howard Williams appears sympathetic to my claim that each generation, each discipline, reinterprets Hobbes anew, each having to do their own thinking for themselves. He begins, however, by telling us what Hobbes’s authentic argument is, presumably independent of interpretation. Eleanor Curran, too, expresses sympathy with my project, but is disappointed, if that is not too strong a word, with my apparent inability to remain faithful to my methodological precepts. Just like Schmitt detected a fatal flaw in Hobbes through which the light of liberty shone, Curran detects in me the flaw of intruding some of my own opinions into the debates, particularly in responding to Schmitt. Let me respond, as best I can to some of their criticisms.

Dyzenhaus makes some telling and substantive points. First, why didn’t I use Oakeshott as an interpreter of Hobbes’s theory of law. I did consider reintroducing him again into the chapter on legal positivism, but on balance decided that the book was in danger of becoming more about Oakeshott than Hobbes, having invoked him as a protagonist in the ideology versus philosophy debate, and in the individualist versus collectivist debate. I also resisted the temptation to include him in the Hobbes among the idealists’ debate, about which Williams writes in this symposium. Secondly, I should have given much more emphasis to the content of the laws of nature. The difficulty in writing a book that comes at Hobbes from so many different angles is that the same material can easily be repeated over and over to the annoyance of the reader. Hobbes’s use of the laws of nature is drawn upon extensively throughout the book, one of the most important uses he makes of the idea, which is recognised by the classic international jurists, is its complete identification with the law of nations, an aspect of Hobbes that the legal positivists tend to ignore. Thirdly, my claim that law is made by the sovereign and not by judges and lawyers, is taken to be an overstatement that ignores the fact that, as Kelson tells us (alluding to Hobbes), sovereignty is institutionally complex, and subordinate judges themselves participate in sovereignty by interpreting enacted law through their understanding of the laws of nature. I do not wish to deny the complexity of sovereignty in Hobbes as his interpreters see it, but I would want to insist that whatever the process by which laws, and especially the common law, acquires legitimacy, the authority that confirms their legitimacy, if even by the silence of the Leviathan, derives by whatever circuitous route, from ‘the’ Sovereign. I have left Dyzenhaus’s most telling point until last. He appears to think that I believe Hobbes is a blank screen upon which we project ourselves, and if this claim were true engaging with Hobbes, or with the many debates that invoke him, would be a surreptitious form of intellectual narcissism, ‘because we would be no less projecting our prejudices onto these appropriators of Hobbes than we would onto Hobbes himself’. When I said there was no ‘it’ independent of interpretation (echoing Oakeshott and other Idealists), I simply meant that it is meaningless to try to separate them, they are mutually dependent, and this is what I take Gadamer and Ricoeur to be saying, and why I use them in justification. Interpretation is not a direct engagement with the text. There is a tradition of interpretation which frames our initial responses (prejudices), but which by means of the hermeneutic circle (Gadamer), or arc (Ricoeur), are modified within the constraints of our own horizons, and those projected by the text. The text doesn’t have an independent existence, despite what Kant says about the much ridiculed idea of ‘things in themselves’, and even he conceded that although they have an independent existence we cannot know them independently of the a priori categories that structure our thought.

Curran is puzzled by the status of a particular intervention I make regarding Schmitt’s regret that Hobbes allowed the subjects of Leviathan freedom of conscience, which ultimately opened the way to the corrosive influence of liberalism on modern European politics. I suggested that Schmitt could have made a much stronger case by focusing on Hobbes’s argument for the retention of the natural right to self-preservation which allowed for the individual to flee justice if it threatened his or her life. I mentioned that Jean Hampton also emphasised this point. Curran suggests that I appear to be pronouncing on what Hobbes actually meant which undermines the status of my methodological claims to see Hobbes through the eyes of his appropriators. Leo Strauss was a contemporary of Schmitt and indeed, as I pointed out in the text, accused Schmitt of missing this more glaring element of liberalism in Hobbes’s text.[3] My remark has to be seen in the context of the hermeneutic tradition of interpretation, and the criticism of Schmitt emanating from Strauss in the context in which Schmitt read Hobbes. This, however, does not wholly absolve me of the charge, and if the book had been primarily about methodology I would have argued, following Charles Taylor, that the interpreter cannot wholly suspend judgment, or belief, when an author says something that appears ludicrous by our own standards. Indeed, identifying it as ludicrous is to apply those standards. There are other ways in which the interpreter cannot wholly stay above the fray. Again, following Taylor, but more so Hayden White, and tangentially J. H. Hexter, my choice of words, tempo of the narrative, and particularly the literary ‘trope’, influences how the reader understands, or perceives the incidents portrayed. Therefore, the way in which I have subconsciously portrayed Schmitt as something of a tragicomic figure, a modern king Cnut the Great, ordering the tide of liberalism to abate, is bound to influence a reader’s impression of him, especially if he or she is unfamiliar with his work.

Williams seems to ‘get’ what I was trying to do and appreciates its importance and partial novelty. Or, perhaps I was able to get my point across better in the chapter on Idealism, with which he is primarily concerned. What he particularly likes is the demonstration of the way the works of major philosophers develop over time, as they are read and re-read in different contexts. The novelty of a philosophy may be experienced anew, and differently by each audience. This is something that Croce understood all too well, that is, the importance of the interpreter in passionately breathing new life into dead and petrified texts. The text must resonate for the person who, and the age which, reads it. Otherwise the account given is mere chronicle. Those familiar with my work on R. G. Collingwood will see the impression he has made on the way that I conceived this book, but it also demonstrates that there is no Collingwood independent of interpretation, and that my Collingwood in today’s context is very different from Quentin Skinner’s version of Collingwood. Skinner also claims to have been heavily influenced by him.

Since I am among friends, and on the subject of Idealist interpretations, I hope I may be allowed to indulge myself by repeating what I consider to be one of the most eloquent and profound sentences on Hobbes. In The Philosophical Theory of the State Bernard Bosanquet argues:

For Hobbes, then, we might venture to say, political unity lies in a will which is actual, but not general; while for Locke it lies in a will which is general, but not actual. If the two are pressed to extremes, the former theory annihilates “self,” and the latter annihilates “government.” [4]

 Professor David Boucher (Cardiff University and the University of Johannesburg)

 

[1]  David Boucher, Texts in Context: Revisionist Methods for Studying the History of Ideas (Dordrecht, Martinus Nijhoff, 1985).

[2]  J. M. Brown accuses Oakeshott of ‘a singular lack of interest in what Hobbes actually said.’ ‘A Note on Professor Oakeshott’s Introduction to the Leviathan’, Political Studies, 1 (1953), 55.

[3]  Furthermore, the individual’s retention of the natural right to self-preservation ‘sets the path to the whole system of human rights in the sense of liberalism. . .’ Leo Strauss, ‘Notes on the Concept of the Political’ in Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: the hidden dialogue (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2006), 101.

[4]  Bernard Bosanquet, The Philosophical Theory of the State (London, Macmillan, 1899), 93.