New article: ‘Il concetto di status naturae tra Hobbes e Kant’, by Gianluca Sadun Bordoni

Gianluca Sadun Bordoni, ‘Il concetto di status naturae tra Hobbes e Kant’, Studi Kantiani 32 (2019), pp. 25-46.

Abstract : The Concept of status naturae between Hobbes and Kant ∙ The confrontation with Hobbes is present in Kant’s entire moral thought, as the concept of ‘state of nature’ shows. Although undervalued in Kantian literature, this concept is the constant starting point of Kant’s juridical and political analysis. Kant even thinks that the state of nature in international relations can always affect the internal juridical state, more than Hobbes was prone to admit. But Kant also radicalizes the perspective, by introducing, in addition to the ‘juridical’ state of nature, the concept of an ‘ethical’ state of nature, that – differently from Hobbes – cannot be overcome by political means, not even by man’s moral forces.

New article: ‘Real Unity and Representation in Hobbes, Schmitt, and Barth’, by Sarita Zaffini

Sarita Zaffini, ‘Real Unity and Representation in Hobbes, Schmitt, and Barth’, Polity, online first.

Abstract: Recent Hobbes scholarship argues that legal rationalism is the key to understanding his concept of representation; the commonwealth entails the sum total of the individual wills who compact to create it. But as jurist Carl Schmitt recognized, certain aspects of Hobbes’s famous Leviathan narrative transcend this rationality. He points out that the commonwealth, according to Hobbes, constitutes a “real unity” of the multitude in one Sovereign head rather than a simple aggregation of individuals, suggesting that something supernatural, in addition to legal rationality, undergirds Hobbes’s concept of representation. This article argues that Thomas Hobbes was invoking an alternative, theological notion of representation along with that of legal authorization. The prototype of this theological representation is the relationship of Jesus Christ to the members of his church-body, a familiar image to seventeenth-century English Christians. The work of twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth helps to explain this concept in detail, and, with Schmitt, reveals the continued significance of theological representation for modern politics as well as for religion.

The Review of Politics

Symposium on Hobbes’s Kingdom of Light, by Devin Stauffer

A Symposium on Devin Stauffer’s Hobbes’s Kingdom of Light: A Study of the Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy, The Review of Politics 82, no. 1 (2020): 123-144.

Paul T. Wilford, ‘Introduction’

Geoffrey M. Vaughan, ‘Hobbes, Aristotle, and the Politics of Metaphysics’

Paul Franco, ‘Hobbes’s Secularism: Pragmatic, Civil-Theologian or Utopian Atheist?’

Ioannis D. Evrigenis, ‘Hobbes: Prophet of the Enlightenment or Justice of the Peace?’

Bryan Garsten, ‘Hobbes and the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns’

Devin Stauffer, ‘Response’

New book: Hobbes’s On the Citizen: A Critical Guide, edited by Douglass & Olsthoorn

Robin Douglass & Johan Olsthoorn (eds.), Hobbes’s On the Citizen: A Critical Guide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

This is the first book-length study in English of Thomas Hobbes’s On the Citizen. It aims to show that On the Citizen is a valuable and distinctive philosophical work in its own right, and not merely a stepping-stone toward the more famous Leviathan. The volume comprises twelve original essays, written by leading Hobbes scholars, which explore the most important themes of the text: Hobbes’s accounts of human nature, moral motivation, and political obligation; his theories of property, sovereignty, and the state; and, finally, his ideas on the relation between secular and ecclesiastical authority, and the politics behind his religious ideas. Taken together, the essays bring to light many distinctive aspects of Hobbes’s thought that are often concealed by the prevailing focus on Leviathan, making for a richer and more nuanced picture of his moral, legal, and political philosophy.


‘Introduction’, Robin Douglass and Johan Olsthoorn
1. ‘Excavating On the Citizen’, Deborah Baumgold and Ryan Harding
2. ‘Hobbes and Aristotle on the foundation of political science’, Nicholas Gooding and Kinch Hoekstra
3. ‘All the mind’s pleasure: glory, self-admiration, and moral motivation in On the Citizen and Leviathan’, S. A. Lloyd
4. ‘The right of nature and political disobedience: Hobbes’s puzzling thought experiment’, Susanne Sreedhar
5. ‘Motivation, reason, and the good in On the Citizen’, Michael LeBuffe
6. ‘Property and despotic sovereignty’, Laurens van Apeldoorn
7. ‘Sovereignty and dominium: the foundations of Hobbesian statehood’, Daniel Lee
8. ‘Corporate persons without authorization’, Michael J. Green
9. ‘Hobbes on love and fear of God’, Thomas Holden
10. ‘’A rhapsody of heresies’: the scriptural politics of On the Citizen’, Alison McQueen
11. ‘On the Citizen and church-state relations’, Johann Sommerville
12. ‘Sovereign-making and biblical covenants in On the Citizen’, A. P. Martinich

New article: ‘From soul to mind in Hobbes’s The Elements of Law’, by Alexandra Chadwick

Alexandra Chadwick, ‘From soul to mind in Hobbes’s The Elements of Law, History of European Ideas, online first.

Abstract: This paper examines the significance and originality of Hobbes’s use of ‘mind’, rather than ‘soul’, in his writings on human nature. To this end, his terminology in the discussion of the ‘faculties of the mind’ in The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic (1640) is considered in the context of English-language accounts of the ‘faculties of the soul’ in three widely-read works from the first half of the seventeenth century: Thomas Wright’s The Passions of the Minde in Generall (1604), Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), and Edward Reynolds’s A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soule of Man (1640). For Hobbes’s contemporaries, man’s soul conveyed God-like powers to human beings; for Hobbes this is a dangerous idea. Accordingly, he establishes a sharp divide between ‘soul’ and ‘mind’, understanding the two terms to be concerned with two very different things: one with soteriology, the other with mental abilities. Like his contemporaries, Hobbes thought that understanding the faculties reveals the way to live a good life. But unlike them, his moral and political philosophy relies on citizens accepting that they are not like God, rather than looking to restore the ‘divine’ within themselves.

New book: Hobbesian Internationalism, by Silviya Lechner

Silviya Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism: Anarchy, Authority and the Fate of Political Philosophy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

This book sets out to re-examine the foundations of Thomas Hobbes’s political philosophy, and to develop a Hobbesian normative theory of international relations. Its central thesis is that two concepts – anarchy and authority – constitute the core of Hobbes’s political philosophy whose aim is to justify the state. The Hobbesian state is a type of authority (juridical, public, coercive, and supreme) which emerges under conditions of anarchy (‘state of nature’). A state-of-nature argument makes a difference because it justifies authority without appeal to moral obligation. The book shows that the closest analogue of a Hobbesian authority in international relations is Kant’s confederation of free states, where states enjoy ‘anarchical’ (equal) freedom. At present, this crucial form of freedom is being threatened by economic processes of globalisation, and by the resurgence of private authority across state borders.