New book: Appropriating Hobbes

Boucher, David (2018): Appropriating Hobbes. Legacies in Political, Legal, and International Thought. Oxford: OUP.

Description by the publisher:

This book explores how Hobbes’s political philosophy has occupied a pertinent place in different contexts, and how his interpreters see their own images reflected in him, or how they define themselves in contrast to him. Appropriating Hobbes argues that there is no Hobbes independent of the interpretations that arise from his appropriation in these various contexts and which serve to present him to the world. There is no one perfect context that enables us to get at what Hobbes ‘really meant’, despite the numerous claims to the contrary. He is almost indistinguishable from the context in which he is read.

Table of contents:

Introduction: Hobbes in Contexts
1: Hobbes Among the Philosophical Idealists: A Will that is Actual, but Not General
2: Understanding Hobbes: Philosophy versus Ideology
3: Constraining Leviathan: Power versus authority in Hobbes, Schmitt, and Oakeshott.
4: Hobbes Among the Classic Jurists: Natural Law versus the Law of Nations
5: Hobbes Among Legal Positivists: Sovereign or Society?
6: Hobbes Among International Relations thinkers: International Political Theory

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Robert P Benedict Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy

The Robert P Benedict Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy at Boston University will be delivered by Kinch Hoekstra. These lectures will take three different approaches to Hobbes as a philosopher of Politics. The first will focus on Hobbes’s engagement with the tradition of ‘politic history’ and his attempt to influence politics via history, especially in his edition of Thucydides. The second lecture will argue that for Hobbes philosophy was not simply a way to understand politics, but was itself political. And the final lecture will ask how Hobbes’s philosophical positions were challenged by the unfolding of history in his own time, with a focus on Behemoth, his history of the English civil war.

Kinch Hoekstra is the Chancellor’s Professor of Political Science and Law and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he was Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy and Classics at Balliol College. Most of his work has been on the history of classical, renaissance, and early modern philosophy.

See this page for more information.

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Hobbes Studies Essay Competition 2018

Hobbes Studies is pleased to invite submissions to the 2018 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 3rd March 2013. Submissions must be received by 30 May 2018. The judges reserve the right not to make an award.

All submissions should be uploaded to the journal’s Editorial Manager website: When submitting your manuscript for consideration, please note in the comments box that you desire to be considered for the 2018 competition (immediately before uploading the files), and include your CV. Submissions must follow Hobbes Studies submission guidelines. For questions, please email the Assistant Editor at 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 competition submission selected by the Editorial Board will be published in Hobbes Studies, awarded €350, and receive a year’s subscription. The 2017 prize winning essay was ‘”A State of Lesser Hope”: The Servant in Hobbes’s Natural Commonwealth’ by Caleb Miller, which will be published  in the Autumn issue  of Hobbes Studies.

To download a copy of the competition advertisement, please click here (pdf).

About the Journal

Hobbes Studies is an international, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. It publishes research (articles, book symposia, research notes and book reviews) about philosophical, political historical, literary, religious, and scientific aspects of Thomas Hobbes’s thought. For previous issues, and further information see


“Hobbes after Leviathan. Beyond Leviathan?”, Workshop at the University of Padova

On 15 and 16 February 2018, more than 20 scholars, based in several different countries, came together in the convivial atmosphere of the University of Padova to discuss new papers on Hobbes’s post-Leviathan works. The focus on the last part of the Hobbesian oeuvre allowed participants to place the well-known earlier texts in a fresh historical perspective. Close scrutiny of texts like the Historia Ecclesiastica, the Dialogue, and Behemoth allowed contributors to explore developments over time and theoretical consequences of positions stated earlier. This hermeneutical perspective deepened and problematized the context in which the thought of Thomas Hobbes took shape. Indeed, the workshop revealed that the late works show how much Hobbes is committed to dealing with structural contingencies.

Patricia Springborg (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Luc Foisneau (EHESS-CNRS, Paris) delivered two wonderful and wide-ranging keynote speeches. Prof. Springborg spoke about Hobbes’s State Theory and Roman Law, while Prof. Foisneau offered reflections on Punishment after Leviathan. The conference was organised by Dr Mauro Farnesi Camellone, Prof. Mario Piccinini, and colleagues.

The organisers are very grateful to the Departments SPGI, FISPPA, and DiSGeA of University of Padova for their hospitality, and to the Italian National Program for Research (PRIN) for having made this conference financially possible. Thanks also go out to all participants and attendees.

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Quentin Skinner: From Humanism to Hobbes

Skinner, Quentin (2018): From Humanism to Hobbes. Studies in Rhetoric and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The aim of this collection is to illustrate the pervasive influence of humanist rhetoric on early-modern literature and philosophy. The first half of the book focuses on the classical rules of judicial rhetoric. One chapter considers the place of these rules in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, while two others concentrate on the technique of rhetorical redescription, pointing to its use in Machiavelli’s The Prince as well as in several of Shakespeare’s plays, notably Coriolanus. The second half of the book examines the humanist background to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. A major new essay discusses his typically humanist preoccupation with the visual presentation of his political ideas, while other chapters explore the rhetorical sources of his theory of persons and personation, thereby offering new insights into his views about citizenship, political representation, rights and obligations and the concept of the state.

Advance praise:‘In these beautifully crafted essays Skinner shows how Machiavelli, Shakespeare and Hobbes use the plenitude of rhetorical techniques of the humanist curriculum to craft persuasively the features of their different yet equally famous texts. Moreover, each confronts differently the chaos that ensues when these radically redescriptive techniques enter into the world they strive to characterise. A masterpiece.’

James Tully – University of Victoria, British Columbia

Advance praise:‘In these brilliant essays, centered on Thomas Hobbes, Quentin Skinner presents political discourse as rhetoric, forensic and theatric. He shows how tactical maneuver established fictions which became analytical realities. A challenge and a step forward for political theorists and historians of early modern England and Europe.’

J. G. A. Pocock – The Johns Hopkins University

Advance praise:‘Quentin Skinner is one of our greatest living humanists. He understands from within the classical tradition that nourished thinkers from Machiavelli to Hobbes and wields language with the force of a Renaissance rhetorician. In this timely work, he deepens his long-standing engagement with humanism and with Hobbes, expands his range to Shakespeare and Milton and sheds new light on the conceptual genealogies of virtue and liberty, representation and the state. From Humanism to Hobbes will be indispensable for intellectual historians, political theorists and early modernists alike.’

David Armitage – Harvard University


Chapter on ‘Hobbes “At the Edge of Promises and Prophecies”’

Alison McQueen’s book, Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times (Cambridge University Press, 2017) contains a chapter on Hobbes, alongside chapters on Machiavelli and Morgenthau. It is available now as an ebook, and will be published in hardback in February.

About this book: From climate change to nuclear war to the rise of demagogic populists, our world is shaped by doomsday expectations. In this path-breaking book, Alison McQueen shows why three of history’s greatest political realists feared apocalyptic politics. Niccolò Machiavelli in the midst of Italy’s vicious power struggles, Thomas Hobbes during England’s bloody civil war, and Hans Morgenthau at the dawn of the thermonuclear age all saw the temptation to prophesy the end of days. Each engaged in subtle and surprising strategies to oppose apocalypticism, from using its own rhetoric to neutralize its worst effects to insisting on a clear-eyed, tragic acceptance of the human condition