New book: La croisée des savoirs. Hobbes, Mersenne, Descartes, by Gregorio Baldin

Baldin, Gregorio (2020): La croisée des savoirs. Hobbes, Mersenne, Descartes. Mimesis, 367 p.

Hobbes’ scholars have underlined the importance of his third Grand Tour through Europe (1634-1636) and his stay in Paris for the development of his philosophical system. This book analyzes the philosophical and scientific debates which took place in Paris during Hobbes’ stay, and which proved to be decisive for the birth of Hobbes’ philosophy. This work compares for the first time and in detail the thoughts of Mersenne and Hobbes, whose analogies and differences are highlighted analysing methodological, epistemological and scientific topics. This study also deals with the figure of Descartes, underlining his essential contribution to the development of Hobbes’ thought.

New book: In the Shadow of Leviathan, by Jeffrey R. Collins

Jeffrey R. Collins (2020): In the Shadow of Leviathan. John Locke and the Politics of Conscience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke sit together in the canon of political thought but are rarely treated in common historical accounts. This book narrates their intertwined careers during the Restoration period, when the two men found themselves in close proximity and entangled in many of the same political conflicts. Bringing new source material to bear, In the Shadow of Leviathan establishes the influence of Hobbesian thought over Locke, particularly in relation to the preeminent question of religious toleration. Excavating Hobbes’s now forgotten case for a prudent, politique toleration gifted by sovereign power, Jeffrey R. Collins argues that modern, liberal thinking about toleration was transformed by Locke’s gradual emancipation from this Hobbesian mode of thought. This book investigates those landmark events – the civil war, Restoration, the popish plot, the Revolution of 1688 – which eventually forced Locke to confront the limits of politique toleration, and to devise an account of religious freedom as an inalienable right.

Reopens the old and neglected question of Hobbes’s influence over Locke with new evidence and interpretive methods

Develops and explains not just the arguments of Hobbes and Locke, but their political context, the circulation and reception of their ideas, and the print history of their books

Draws out the significance of early modern intellectual history to modern, liberal thinking around religious toleration



New article: ‘On the Absence of Moral Goodness in Hobbes’s Ethics’ by Johan Olsthoorn

Olsthoorn, J. (2020), On the Absence of Moral Goodness in Hobbes’s Ethics, in: J Ethics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10892-020-09324-4

Abstract

This article reassesses Hobbes’s place in the history of ethics based on the first systematic analysis of his various classifications of formal goodness. The good was traditionally divided into three: profitably good, pleasurably good, and morally good (bonum honestum). Across his works, Hobbes replaced the last with pulchrum—a decidedly non-moral form of goodness on his account. I argue that Hobbes’s dismissal of moral goodness was informed by his hedonist conception of the good and accompanied by reinterpretations of right reason and natural law. By dispensing moral goodness and insisting on the hedonist and relational nature of the good, Hobbes moreover recast and rendered more urgent the question of why we should be moral. Hobbes is commonly thought to have raised this question so starkly because of his general insensitivity to the demands of justice. My analysis suggests that it may also, or rather, have been due to his restrictive conception of the good. A comparison with other moral philosophers from the period—including Suárez, Gassendi, Locke, and Pufendorf—indicates how unusual Hobbes’s jettisoning of moral goodness was.

New article: ‘Equity and Political Economy in Thomas Hobbes’ by Lee Ward

Ward, L. (2020), Equity and Political Economy in Thomas Hobbes. American Journal of Political Science. doi:10.1111/ajps.12507

Abstract

Thomas Hobbes is often viewed as a seminal figure in the development of the homo economicus philosophical anthropology central to the acquisitive, bourgeois morality of liberal modernity. The present study challenges this interpretation of Hobbes as an antecedent to free market ideology by arguing that his political economy presupposed a complex relation between contract, law, and social networks of credit informed by prudence and robust norms of equity. The normative claims of equity permeate Hobbes’s holistic account of political economy and inform his vision of liberal statecraft that gave priority to prudential judgment against economic determinism, especially as Hobbes understood trade, taxation, allocation of resources, and the provision of social welfare. I will conclude by reflecting upon how Hobbes’s political economy both reveals the internal diversity within the liberal intellectual tradition and can help us to better understand and critique contemporary liberal states and democratic theory.

New article, ‘Hobbes and the Politics of Translation’, by Alicia Steinmetz

Steinmetz, Alicia (2020): Hobbes and the Politics of Translation, in: Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1177/0090591720903393

This essay argues that Hobbes’s work as a translator was fundamental to his mature political philosophy. A proper appreciation for the significance of Hobbes’s lifelong engagement with the politics of translation clarifies both the relationship between Hobbes’s humanist and scientific work, and the meaning of his simultaneous critique and use of rhetoric in his political writings. Against the interpretation held by many scholars that Hobbes simply traded his early humanist interests for his mature political and scientific views, I demonstrate that Hobbes was consistently concerned with the political instability generated by the vernacular translation of classical Greek and Roman texts. In responding to this instability, Hobbes developed his geometrical approach to speech while also, through his analysis of the relationship between translation and metaphor, finding ways to employ humanist rhetorical techniques consistent with this approach. Yet I show that Hobbes continued to rely on translation in areas of speech where he thought science alone could not provide persuasive answers.

New article: ‘Hobbes’s genealogy of private conscience’, by Guido Frilli

Guido Frilli, ‘Hobbes’s genealogy of private conscience’, European Journal of Philosophy, online first

Abstract: This contribution aims at reconstructing Hobbes’s critique of the language of private conscience and at evaluating the relevance of this critique for Hobbes’s political philosophy. Hobbes, I argue, radically subverts the traditional moral‐theological notion of private judgment by turning it into a natural and social fact: conscience becomes nothing more than a shared opinion. This drastic redefinition allows him to condemn the seditious uses of the language of conscience: Hobbes’s criticism of Papists and Presbyterians can be read, I contend, as an attempt at a genealogical analysis of private conscience. Yet, while always constructed by powerful rhetoric, conscience is not insignificant to Hobbes, since it becomes—in a way that neither “liberal” nor “absolutist” readings of Hobbes’s politics have satisfactorily accounted for—the ambivalent dimension of the construction of political consent.