New article: The Name ‘Leviathan’ – or the Shadow that Fell on a Work

Waas, Lothar R. (2022): The Name ‘Leviathan’ – or the Shadow that Fell on a Work: Hobbes and Bodin, the Bible and a Commentary or Two on Job, in: Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie,

Is the reference to the Book of Job sufficient to explain why Hobbes gave the name ‘Leviathan’ to the state he advocated? Had he not been aware of how maligned this name had been for centuries: that it not only referred to a monster, but soon became synonymous with the devil himself? – The “long shadow” that, according to Carl Schmitt, the name ‘Leviathan’ alone had cast on Hobbes’s work from the very beginning was first cleared somewhat in 2007 by Noel Malcolm’s reference to Jacques Boulduc’s Job- commentary of 1619/37. As far as the “extraneous influence” in question is concerned, however, reference could also be made to the Job-commentary of a certain Joseph Caryl of 1643, which in turn took away some of the scandalous connotation of the biblical Leviathan. The real key to Hobbes’s naming, however, may lie with Jean Bodin, with whom Hobbes shares everything that the name ‘Leviathan’ stands for in his political philosophy.

The first Italian translation of Hobbes’s Autobiographies

Hobbes, Thomas (2022): Vita di Thomas Hobbes di Malmesbury. Le due autobiografie latine, transl. and ed. by Luca Tenneriello. Milan: Mimesis.

The book collects the first Italian translations of Hobbes’s two Latin autobiographies: the renowned Vita Carmine Expressa, written in 1672, and the little-known Vita, drawn up in prose from the 1660s onwards. The works have been translated and edited by Dr. Luca Tenneriello, Sapienza University of Rome. The volume shows Hobbes’s life and thought in his own words, “a crumb of Hobbes’s mind” (micam salis hobbiani), like a last will and testament for posterity.

New article: Taylor and Hobbes on toleration

Okada, Takuya (2022): Taylor and Hobbes on toleration, in: History of European Ideas,

The English Revolution saw fierce controversy over religious toleration. While this controversy was usually associated with parliamentarians and Puritans, major contributions to the debate were also made by a few thinkers from the royalist side: Jeremy Taylor and Thomas Hobbes. Despite their prominence in the toleration debate, however, the intellectual context of the English Revolution in which their distinctive views of toleration were formed remains unclear apart from Hobbes’s association with the Independents. Here, I suggest the potential importance of Taylor and Hobbes for understanding each other. While studies of Hobbes and Taylor have developed in relative isolation from each other, I show that their views of toleration have various features in common, and that these features are rarely found in their celebrated predecessor William Chillingworth or in major Puritan tolerationists. In several key respects, moreover, Hobbes and Taylor were more similar than Hobbes and the Independents. This research also helps to clarify the contribution to the toleration controversy at that time by the two leading thinkers. Furthermore, the similarities between Taylor and Hobbes, as shown in this paper, may contribute to better understanding the reception of Hobbes in the Restoration toleration debate.

New article on Equity and Inequity in Thomas Hobbes’s Dialogue

Corbin, Thomas (2022): On Equity and Inequity in Thomas Hobbes’s Dialogue, in: The Southern Journal of Philosophy,

The concept of equity is clearly important in Thomas Hobbes’s philosophy. In his writings he repeatedly employs it in significant load bearing ways, particularly in the areas of civil law and governance. Equity is, however, not directly addressed in a sustained way in his core works and—perhaps even more frustratingly—it is often applied in ways which ask more questions about the concept than they answer. This presents an impediment to accurately understanding what equity really means to Hobbes. His late Dialogue Between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of England (1681) seems to offer a solution to this challenge. This work contains extensive discussion on equity, including on the application of equity in relationship to absolute rule. However, equity in the Dialogue is not always the same as what we see in Hobbes’s core works. The question is, did Hobbes change his mind on equity? This article argues no. Hobbes did not change his mind on equity; rather, within the Dialogue he is engaging with a common understanding of the term as it existed in English law. Consequently, Hobbes’s discussions here should not inform us about how equity fits into his philosophy.

Chapter on “Hobbes and Pretenders to God’s Kingdom” in the new book: Apocalypse without God

Jones, Ben (2022): Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Thought, published by Cambridge University Press,

This chapter examines how Hobbes tempers apocalyptic thought to advance his political philosophy. What troubles Hobbes about such thought is its potential to spur continuous upheaval. Apocalyptic thought anticipates perfection – a divine kingdom that will wipe away corruption. The failure to realize utopian hopes breeds endless dissatisfaction, disruption, and instability in politics. But rather than abandon apocalyptic ideals, Hobbes co-opts them. Specifically, he reinterprets the doctrine of the kingdom of God to make it safe for politics. He arrives at an interpretation that denies, at present, all claims to represent God’s kingdom by prophets and sects challenging the sovereign’s authority. For now, the kingdom of God can only take one form – what Hobbes calls the natural kingdom of God. Importantly, the Leviathan-state is a manifestation of the natural kingdom of God. By identifying God’s kingdom with the Leviathan-state, Hobbes transforms a Christian doctrine used to justify rebellion into one bolstering the sovereign’s authority.

New Book: Hobbes Against Friendship: The Modern Marginalisation of an Ancient Political Concept

Slomp, Gabriella (2022): Hobbes Against Friendship. The Modern Marginalisation of an Ancient Political Concept. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan,

This book explores why and how Thomas  Hobbes – the 17th century founder of political science – contributed to the modern marginalisation of ‘friendship’, a concept that stood in the foreground of ancient moral and political thought  and that is  currently undergoing a revival. The study shows that Hobbes did not question the occurrence of friendship; rather, he rejected friendship as an explanatory and normative principle of peace and cooperation. Hobbes’s stance was influential because it captured the spirit of modernity- its individualism, nominalism, practical scepticism, and materialism. Hobbes’s legacy has a bearing on contemporary debates about civic, international and global friendship. 

New article: Hobbes, Constant, and Berlin on Liberty

Cromartie, Alan (2022): Hobbes, Constant, and Berlin on Liberty, in: History of European Ideas,

Isaiah Berlin’s ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ regards both Hobbes and Constant as supporting the negative version. Both took a favourable view of the freedom to live as one pleases. But this shared preference arose from radically different overall philosophies. Hobbes’s support for freedom as ‘the silence of the laws’ reflected his view of happiness as preference-satisfaction. Constant’s support for freedom as a sphere of absolute rights was supplemented by support for active citizenship and connected with belief in ‘perfectibility’ that was itself linked to religion. These theories involve altogether different understandings of the image of an ‘area’ preserved from interference. Berlin takes over from Constant an appeal to human nature without the idea of progress that had supported it.

New Hobbes Studies Special Issue dedicated to the career and work of Professor Johann Sommerville

Hobbes Studies, Special Issue (March 2022)


Book Reviews

New article: A Bridge between Art and Philosophy: The Case of Thomas Hobbes

Skinner, Quentin (2022): A Bridge between Art and Philosophy: The Case of Thomas Hobbes, in: European Review,

The leading question raised by the rhetoricians of classical antiquity was how to speak with maximum persuasive force. You must find the means, they answered, to enable your readers to see what you are arguing. This initially gave rise to a preoccupation with visual metaphors and other so-called figures of speech. Much later, with the development of the printed book, this also led to the practice of inserting actual figures into books to provide visual summaries of their arguments. Here, one pioneer was Thomas Hobbes, and this article offers an interpretation of the frontispieces he included in his two main works of political philosophy, De cive and Leviathan. The moral Hobbes aims to convey is that we have no alternative but to submit to the protecting power of the sovereign state if we wish to live in security and peace.

New article on Hobbes’ Biological Rhetoric and the Covenant

Kuschel, Gonzalo Bustamante (2021): Hobbes’ Biological Rhetoric and the Covenant, in: Philosophy & Rhetoric.

For Victoria Kahn, Hobbes’ argument that fear of violent death is “the passion to be reckoned upon” in explaining what inclines men to peace must be interpreted as a mimetic argument. However, Kahn then notes a paradox that makes Hobbes’ thinking problematic: whereas love and the desires are appetites that produce an imitative effect, fear is different. Though also a passion, fear lacks that capacity to produce a mimetic effect or, therefore, to generate a contract. My hypothesis is that resolving the dilemma presented in Kahn’s interpretation of Hobbes requires a shift in attention from mimesis to rhetoric and, more specifically, to biological rhetoric as defined by Nancy Struever. This approach to Hobbes makes it possible to understand the rhetorical role of fear in generating and maintaining the social contract, and how the problem that Kahn signals —the impotence of fear in relation to mimesis — can be resolved.