First Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society Postponed

Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the local organisers we have had to postpone the first Biennial Conference of the EHS at the University of Graz, Austria. We are currently inquiring into the possiblity of holding the event at another location, around the same time, and will update the website soon with more information. Many appologies for any inconvenience caused. In the meantime, if you have any questions please write to Laurens van Apeldoorn (l.c.j.van.apeldoorn@phil.leidenuniv.nl).

Workshop on Arash Abizadeh’s manuscript

On June 17th, several members of the European Hobbes Society met to discuss a draft of Arash Abizadeh’s important, book-length analysis of Hobbes’s moral philosophy. Abizadeh’s manuscript incisively combines rigorous textual interpretation with powerful philosophical analysis to cast new light on Hobbes’s ethics and meta-ethics. The workshop covered numerous features of the book, from fine details of interpretating Hobbes to broader issues of framing.

We then discussed a draft paper by Signy Gutnick Allen which offers a penetrating analysis of Hobbes’s theory of the right to punish.

Those present, from left to right in the picture above, were Adrian Blau (King’s College London), Elad Carmel (Oxford), Robin Douglass (King’s College London), Deborah Baumgold (Oregon), Arash Abizadeh (McGill), Signy Gutnick Allen (Queen Mary, University of London), and Paul Sagar (Cambridge).

 

Radio 4 discussion of Hobbes and Bodin on sovereignty

Listen to a fascinating BBC Radio 4 discussion of Bodin, Hobbes and others on sovereignty, by Melissa Lane (Princeton), Richard Bourke (QMUL) and Tim Stanton (York). (Click here for the recording.)

Hosted by Melvyn Bragg, the speakers discuss the history of the idea of sovereignty, the authority of a state to govern itself, and the relationship between the sovereign and people. These ideas of external and internal sovereignty were imagined in various ways in ancient Greece and Rome, and given a name in 16th-century France by the philosopher and jurist Jean Bodin in his Six Books of the Commonwealth, where he said (in an early English translation) ‘Maiestie or Soveraigntie is the most high, absolute, and perpetuall power over the citisens and subiects in a Commonweale: which the Latins cal Maiestatem, the Greeks akra exousia, kurion arche, and kurion politeuma; the Italians Segnoria, and the Hebrewes tomech shévet, that is to say, The greatest power to command.’ Shakespeare also explored the concept through Richard II and the king’s two bodies, Hobbes developed it in the 17th century, and the idea of popular sovereignty was tested in the Revolutionary era in America and France.

Hobbes Studies Essay Competition 2016

Hobbes Studies is pleased to invite submissions to the 2016 Hobbes Studies Essay Competition. Submissions should treat the philosophical, political historical, literary, religious, or scientific aspects of the thought of Thomas Hobbes and be no more than 10 000 words. Essays are invited from researchers in any field who are currently enrolled in postgraduate study or completed their PhD no earlier than 30th June 2011. Submissions must be received by 30th June 2016. The judges reserve the right not to make an award.

All submissions should be uploaded to the journal’s Editorial Manager website: http://www.editorialmanager.com/hobs/default.aspx. When submitting your manuscript for consideration, please note in the comments box that you desire to be considered for the 2016 competition (immediately before uploading the files). Submissions must follow Hobbes Studies submission guidelines. For questions, please email the Assistant Editor at hobbestudies@gmail.com. Essays must not have been previously published or simultaneously submitted for consideration elsewhere.

Submissions will be considered for publication in a forthcoming issue of Hobbes Studies. The winning essay will be awarded 350 euros, a year’s subscription to the journal and be published in Hobbes Studies.

Chapter: Martinich’s critique of Leo Strauss on Hobbes

A.P. Martinich: ‘Leo Strauss’s Olympian Intrepretation: Right, Self-Preservation, and Law in the Political Philosophy of Hobbes’, in Winfried Schroeder, ed., Reading Between the Lines – Leo Strauss and the History of Early Modern Philosophy, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 77-97.

Summary: Martinich challenges Leo Strauss’s reading of Hobbes in his 1936 book The Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. Martinich rejects Strauss’s reading of Hobbesian rights in the state of nature, of Hobbes’s account of human nature, of the nature of reason, of the causes of war, and the basis of law. Martinich concludes that “Strauss’s view is fundamentally mistaken about the foundational concepts of Hobbes’s political philosophy”. Martinich suggests that this may reflect Strauss’s desire to confirm his nascent theory about differences between ancient and modern political philosophy. Implicitly invoking Hobbes’s mountain metaphor from Behemoth, Martinich writes that “[s]eeing philosophical texts from a great height, [Strauss] thought he saw a large pattern; but the pattern required adjusting some details in order to fit and taking little or no account of others.”

Chapter: Reading Hobbes’s De motu against the background of Strauss’ interpretation

Gianni Paganini: ‘Art of Writing or Art of Rewriting? Reading Hobbes’s De motu against the background of Strauss’ interpretation’, in Winfried Schroeder (ed.), Reading Between the Lines – Leo Strauss and the History of Early Modern Philosophy, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, 2015, p. 99-128

Abstract: As an opening work for Hobbes’s “first philosophy”, De motu, loco et tempore (Anti-White) occupies a very special position in Hobbes’s corpus. Being obliged to follow his interlocutor, Thomas White on his ground, Hobbes could not escape the big theoretical issues raised by White’s scholastic theology. He could not simplify or shorten the philosophical agenda, as he did later in De Corpore, excluding the field of theology from the competence of philosophy. However, the presence of this work in current Hobbes scholarship is very scant. Since it was written originally in Latin and barely addressed political issues, Anglo-Saxon scholars usually have avoided much engaging with it. Yet De motu was a decisive turning point in Hobbes’s intellectual history, both for the foundation of a new scientific ontology and for the bold attack it launched on the pretensions of philosophical theology.

New editors at Hobbes Studies

Gabriella Slomp, Reader in Political Theory at St Andrews, is the new Editor-in-Chief at Hobbes Studies, the leading journal for research on Thomas Hobbes. For the last two years she has been the Associate Editor.

Marcus Adams, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Albany, moves up from Assistant Editor to Associate Editor.

Juhana Lemetti is now moving on as Editor-in-Chief, after a successful tenure which saw a significant step-up for the journal. Juhana, who is on the International Advisory Board for the European Hobbes Society, took a journal that – in my view – had a rather mixed quality of publications, but which now accepts high-quality papers with great consistency. I’ve been privileged to watch this as a member of the Editorial Board of Hobbes Studies since 2013. I personally wish Juhana all the very best for the future.

Article: Hobbes’s First Cause

Thomas Holden: ‘Hobbes’s First Cause’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 53, 4 (2015)

Abstract: Hobbes maintains that natural human reason can prove the existence of a “first cause of all causes.” But he also maintains that for all natural human reason can tell, the regress of causes might recede to infinity with no beginning at all. I argue that this apparent contradiction dissolves once we take his expressivist interpretation of religious language into account. For Hobbes, the proper function of talk about the divine attributes, including talk about its status as the “first cause of all,” is not to represent the nature of the deity, but simply to express our reverence and humility before it.