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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Daniel J. Kapust and Brandon Turner: Guest Editors’ Introduction
- Cesare Cuttica: ‘The History of Political Thought Above All’: A Portrait of Johann P. Sommerville
- Xinzhi Zhao: Ideological Context and the Study of Political Theory
- Ioannis Evrigenis: The Elements of Law and Hobbes’s Purpose
- Sharon Lloyd: Hobbes’s Theory of Responsibility as Support for Sommerville’s Argument Against Hobbes’s Approval of Independency
- Mary Nyquist: Hobbes Reenvisions Hebraic and Christian History
- Johann Sommerville: The Elements of Law: Manuscripts and the Short Parliament