Pink, Thomas (2023): Hobbes against Bramhall. Moral responsibility, free will, and mechanistic determination in Kiener, M. (Ed.): The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Responsibility (1st ed.). Routledge.
Hobbes addressed a debate about free will and responsibility hitherto conducted within the framework of Aristotelian scholasticism. The debate assumed that our responsibility was for our exercise of a power of self-determination. The main issue was whether this power of self-determination must be exercised contingently.
Contingency in the exercise of power was further linked to a generally accepted theory of rationality as involving susceptibility to the force of reason – to various forms of normative power, forces of truth and of goodness, operating on the mind through objects of thought. Hobbes denied that power could ever be exercised contingently. The very idea of self-determination was viciously regressive. All action was necessitated by prior causes from within material nature.
Hobbes further attacked the theory that rationality involved the operation on us of normative power – of a force of reason.
“Also when a Prize is propounded to many, which is to be given to him onely that winneth … so to Win, or so to Catch, is to Merit, and to have it as DUE” (Leviathan, ch. 14).
Hobbes Studies is pleased to announce the 2024 Essay Competition. We invite submissions which make original contributions to the study of Hobbes’s thought, life, or the reception of his ideas. We also accept articles which engage with other thinkers, as long as a strong connection to Hobbes is demonstrated.
Essays are particularly welcome from PhD students and those who have recently received their doctorate, and must not have been accepted for publication, or be under consideration for publication, elsewhere.
Entries should be submitted via the Editorial Manager online submission system and follow the journal’s guidelines. When submitting your manuscript, please note in the “Comments” section that you wish to be considered for the 2024 Essay Competition and confirm that the eligibility requirements are met. For queries, please contact Elad Carmel at email@example.com.
The winning submission will be awarded €150 as well as €200 in book credit, courtesy of Brill, and will be published in a forthcoming issue of Hobbes Studies. Other submissions will also be considered for publication. We reserve the right not to make an award.
The submission deadline for the competition is 30 April 2024.
Alexandra Chadwick, University of Jyväskylä
Elad Carmel, University of Jyväskylä
Long before Thomas Hobbes wrote systematic works on political philosophy, he produced the first English translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War directly from Greek. Published in 1629, it was a result of several of his formative years spent in Thucydides’ close company. Starting from the premise that such an experience could have informed Hobbes’s own ideas to a certain extent, this article tries to establish points of connection between Thucydides’ text and Hobbes’s conception of the state of nature. The aim is to identify ideas that might be at work behind different aspects of one of the focal points of Hobbes’s political thought. The analysis begins with Thucydides’ Archaeology depicting the manner of life of the ancient Hellenes; moves to ‘the three greatest things’ that, working on both individual and collective levels, impelled Athens to build an Empire and consequently trigger the war with Sparta; subsequently turns to the disintegration of Corcyraean polis during stasis; and in the end engages with the same problem that in Athens was caused by the plague.
This book is about virtue and statecraft in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan. Its overarching argument is that the fundamental foundation of Hobbes’s political philosophy in Leviathan is wise, generous, loving, sincere, just, and valiant—in sum, magnanimous—statecraft, whereby sovereigns aim to realize natural justice, manifest as eminent and other-regarding virtue.
I propose that concerns over the virtues of the natural person bearing the office of the sovereign suffuse Hobbes’s political philosophy, defining both his theory of new foundations and his critiques of law and obligation. These aspects of Hobbes’s thought are new to Leviathan, as they respond to limitations in his early works in political theory, Elements and De Cive—limitations made apparent by the civil wars and the regicide of Charles I. Though new, I argue that they tap into ancient political and philosophical ideas, foremostly the variously celebrated, mystified, and maligned figure of the orator founder.
There is no more analyzed image in the history of political thought than the frontispiece of Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651), yet the tiny figures making up the giant have largely escaped scholarly attention. So, too, have their hats. This article recovers what men’s failure to “doff and don” their hats in the frontispiece might have conveyed to readers about their relationship to the Sovereign and each other. Sometimes big ideas—about the nature of representation, for example, or how to “acknowledge” equality—are conveyed by small gestures. When situated textually and contextually, Hobbes’s hats shed important light on the micropolitics of everyday interaction for those who, like Hobbes himself, hope to securely constitute a society of equals.
Are human beings purely material creatures, or is there something else to them, an immaterial part that does some (or all) of the thinking, and might even be able to outlive the death of the body?
This book is about how a series of seventeenth-century philosophers tried to answer that question. It begins by looking at the views of Thomas Hobbes, who developed a thoroughly materialist account of the human mind, and later of God as well. This is in obvious contrast to the approach of his contemporary René Descartes. After examining Hobbes’s materialism, Stewart Duncan considers the views of three of his English critics: Henry More, Ralph Cudworth, and Margaret Cavendish. Both More and Cudworth thought Hobbes’s materialism radically inadequate to explain the workings of the world, while Cavendish developed a distinctive, anti-Hobbesian materialism of her own. The second half of the book focuses on the discussion of materialism in John Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding, arguing that we can better understand Locke’s discussion if we see how and where he is responding to this earlier debate. At crucial points Locke draws on More and Cudworth to argue against Hobbes and other materialists. Nevertheless, Locke did a good deal to reveal how materialism was a genuinely possible view, by showing how one could develop a detailed account of the human mind without presuming it was an immaterial substance.
This work probes the thought and debates that originated in the seventeenth-century yet extended far beyond it. And it offers a distinctive, new understanding of Locke’s discussion of the human mind.