The concepts of liberty and representation reveal tensions in Hobbes’s political anthropology that only a study of the development of his philosophical materialism can fully elucidate. The first section of this article analyses the contradictory definitions of liberty offered in De cive, and explains them against the background of Hobbes’s elaboration of a deterministic concept of conatus during the 1640s. Variations in the concepts of conatus and void between De motu and De corpore will shed light on ideas of individuality, unity and agency that carry direct political relevance. The second section explains why the concept of representation that Hobbes elaborated at the end of the decade in Leviathan cannot be interpreted within an exclusively political and juridical framework. Rather, I will claim that it should be explained in the light of Hobbes’s materialist theory of the power exerted by the sovereign persona on human imagination.
The Third Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society will be held at the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th November 2021.
In addition to the papers presented by invited speakers, we have reserved a number of slots for papers to be selected from a blind-reviewed call for abstracts. We thus invite abstracts of no more than 300 words (longer abstracts will not be considered) by the end of Wednesday 8th September 2021. We welcome abstracts on any aspect of Hobbes’s thought. Abstracts should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org in a Word file by the deadline.
Successful applicants will be informed by Wednesday 15th September 2021. The conference will follow the usual format of the European Hobbes Society, with all papers pre-circulated in advance to allow for optimal discussion and feedback during the conference itself. With this in mind, successful applicants will need to have a full draft of their paper (no longer than 9,000 words, including all references) ready to circulate by Monday 1st November 2021. Accommodation expenses are covered for all the speakers and there is no registration fee for the conference. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover travel expenses of successful applicants.
Attendance at the conference is free and open to all European Hobbes Society members, but the number of places is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants are strongly encouraged to have a look at the pre-circulated papers in advance of the conference. Places will of course be reserved for everyone presenting papers, but if you would like to attend in a non-presenting capacity then please email email@example.com to reserve your place.
For further information or queries please contact the conference conveners:
Luka Ribarević (University of Zagreb): firstname.lastname@example.org
Hrvoje Cvijanović (University of Zagreb): email@example.com
This article considers Hobbes’ contribution to the development of constitutionalist thought by contextualizing his treatment of the concepts of treason and fundamental law in De cive (1642, 2nd ed. 1647) and Leviathan (1651). While in Leviathan he adopts the controversial conception of treason as a violation of fundamental law that had been employed to convict Charles I of high treason in 1649, he draws on the original meaning of the term “fundamental law”, as outlined in the most influential early analysis of Innocent Gentillet, to deny that fundamental laws can constrain the rights and powers of the sovereign. He bolsters this position by treating fundamental law as natural, not civil, law. While citizens commit treason when they violate the original covenant that establishes the sovereign, citizens cannot appeal to a human court for violations of fundamental law by the sovereign (who must render account for violations of natural law only to God). Hobbes’ ingenious reconceptualization of fundamental law, hence, shows that, when understood correctly, the theory of treason embraced by parliamentarians could never support the violent resistance against, and overthrow of, a monarch like Charles I.
Some scholars maintain that the Hobbesian man, commonwealth, or both are analogous – or even identical – to an automaton. Yet automata as a concept remains relatively underexplored in Hobbes’s corpus. This paper aims to address this gap. Standing at the margin between nature and artifice, animate and inanimate, we find three heads of Hobbesian automata emerging from (i) the texts he translated, (ii) the mechanical artifices that surrounded him, and (iii) the physiology he greatly appreciated. These new contributions provide a fuller account of the rich, lively world of Hobbes’s political thought – one that moreover reemphasizes his Aristotelian influences.
- Katherine M. Robiadek: Introduction to Research Symposium on Political Economy p. 3
- David Lay Williams: Hobbes on Wealth, Poverty, and Economic Inequality p. 9
- Laurens van Apeldoorn: Hobbes on Property: Between Legal Certainty and Sovereign Discretion p. 58
- Johann P. Sommerville: Progress Report on Editing Hobbes’s Elements of Law for the Clarendon series p. 81
- Stephen Clucas and Timothy Raylor: Progress Report on the Clarendon Edition of “De corpore” and Related Manuscripts p. 86
- Elaine Condouris Stroud: Progress Report on an English Translation of De Homine p. 98
- Robin Douglass: Fleming, Sean. Leviathan on a Leash: A Theory of State Responsibility p. 103
- Andrew Day: Stauffer, Devin. Hobbes’s Kingdom of Light: A Study of the Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy p. 108
- Theodore Christov: Lechner, Silviya. Hobbesian Internationalism: Anarchy, Authority and the Fate of Political Philosophy p. 113
Hobbes’s preference for monarchical sovereign forms and his critique of democratic political organization are well known. In this article I suggest, however, that his opposition to democratic life constitutes the central frame through which we must understand some of the most important theoretical mutations that occur throughout the various stages of his civil science. Key alterations in the Hobbesian political theory from The Elements of Law to Leviathan can be interpreted as efforts to retroactively foreclose the emergence of a substantive democratic normativity that the prior theoretical framework allowed for or suggested. Hobbes’s opposition to democracy is ultimately so significant so as to fundamentally structure various key elements of his political philosophy.