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New Book: Hobbes Against Friendship: The Modern Marginalisation of an Ancient Political Concept

Slomp, Gabriella (2022): Hobbes Against Friendship. The Modern Marginalisation of an Ancient Political Concept. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan,
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-95315-7

Description
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. 

New article: Hobbes, Constant, and Berlin on Liberty

Cromartie, Alan (2022): Hobbes, Constant, and Berlin on Liberty, in: History of European Ideas, https://doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2022.2056330

Description
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.

New Chapter: Hobbes and Rousseau on Human Nature and the State of Nature

Evrigenis, Ioannis (2022): Chapter 8: Hobbes and Rousseau on Human Nature and the State Of Nature, in: Karolina Hubner (Ed.): Human: A History. Oxford Philosophical Concepts.

Description
A paradox of the concept of “human nature” is that it holds both the promise of universal equality—insofar as it takes us all to share a common nature—while all too often rationalizing exploitation, oppression, and even violence against other individuals and other species. Most appallingly, differences in skin color and other physiological traits have been viewed as signs of a “lesser” humanity, or of outright inhumanity, and used to justify great harms. The volume asks: is the concept of human nature separable from the racist, sexist, and speciest abuse that has been made of it? And is it even possible—or desirable—to articulate a notion of human nature unaffected by race or gender or class, as if it were possible to observe humanity in a pure form? With chapter 8 on Hobbes and Rousseau.

New article on Hobbes’s Eschatology and Scriptural Interpretation in Leviathan

Okada, Takuya (2022): Hobbes’s Eschatology and Scriptural Interpretation in Leviathan, in: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022046921000683

Description
Hobbes’s eschatology in Leviathan is one of the most striking aspects of this classic work and has received considerable scholarly attention. Nevertheless, its scriptural interpretation has rarely been examined. This article closely analyses Hobbes’s scriptural case for two aspects of eschatology: the doctrine of mortalism and the terrestrial kingdom of God. It shows that, to a large extent, Hobbes’s biblical exegesis for these two eschatological issues was preceded by that of his contemporaries, including Richard Overton and John Archer. It is likely, in particular, that the scriptural interpretation for Hobbes’s mortalism was directly indebted to Overton’s Mans mortalitie.

Impressions of the Third Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society

“…it is against his duty, to let the people be ignorant, or misinformed of the grounds, and reasons of those his essential rights; because thereby men are easy to be seduced, and drawn to resist him, when the commonwealth shall require their use and exercise.”

Hobbes, Leviathan, XXX.3

From 18-20 Nov 2021, 15 scholars from 10 different countries and for the first time 8 graduate students from the University of Zagreb gathered together in the old and beautiful Mediterranean city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the Third Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society. As always, it was a joy to see familiar faces as well as to introduce new ones. 

It should be noted that the whole organization was a challenge due to the ongoing Covid-19 related crises. First, the conference had to postponed for a year as the epidemiological situation did not allow majority people to travel. As the Covid-19 global pandemic is still preventing some people from travel, some speakers were unable to attend in the end. Despite all these challenges and missing faces we had thoughtful presentations and productive discussions. Precisely, we had twelve new interesting papers on Hobbes, covering various topics related to Hobbes’s thought from those related to interpretation of Sommerville’s work as it was the case with the opening talk of S.A. Lloyd, to George Wright’s project related to translating the Latin Leviathan, Hobbes’s arguments about religion discussed by Asaf Sokolowski, the relation between Hobbes and Enlightenment by Luc Foisneau, a reconstruction of Hobbes’s state of nature through the work of Thucydides by Luka Ribarević, interpretations of Hobbes’s view on injustice and injury by Johan Olsthoorn, criticism related to Hobbes’s political science by Adrian Blau, etc. 

The full program can be found here.  

We are very grateful to the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia for providing us as organizers with grants making this EHS conference possible, as well as the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik for hosting us and offering the grants allowing our grad students to participate in the conference. Thanks also goes out to all participants, both for coming in Dubrovnik as well as for shaping this small epistemic community and inducing an inspiring and thoughtful conversation on various aspects of Hobbes’s work.

The Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik will be open for hosting similar events and workshops in the future. We continue to welcome initiatives for various events under the aegis of the EHS. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the Fourth Biennial Conference of the European Hobbes Society will be organized by Daniel Eggers, at the University of Regensburg, Germany, in August 2023. Until then, stay safe and enjoy Hobbes!

New article on liberty and representation in Hobbes

Bardin, Andrea (2021): Liberty and representation in Hobbes: a materialist theory of conatus, in: History of European Ideas, https://doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2021.1975150

Description
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.

New book contrasting Hobbes with Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Marx

James, David (2021): Practical Necessity, Freedom, and History. From Hobbes to Marx, OUP

Description
By means of careful analysis of relevant writings by Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and Marx, David James argues that the concept of practical necessity is key to understanding the nature and extent of human freedom. Practical necessity means being, or believing oneself to be, constrained to perform certain actions in the absence (whether real or imagined) of other, more attractive options, or by the high costs involved in pursuing other options. Agents become subject to practical necessity as a result of economic, social, and historical forces over which they have, or appear to have, no effective control, and the extent to which they are subject to it varies according to the amount of economic and social power that one agent possesses relative to other agents. The concept of practical necessity is also shown to take into account how the beliefs and attitudes of social agents are in large part determined by social and historical processes in which they are caught up, and that the type of motivation that we attribute to agents must recognize this. Practical Necessity, Freedom, and History: From Hobbes to Marx shows how Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and Marx, in contrast to Hobbes, explain the emergence of the conditions of a free society in terms of a historical process that is initially governed by practical necessity. The role that this form of necessity plays in explaining history necessity invites the following question: to what extent are historical agents genuinely subject to both practical and historical necessity?

New article: Materialism and Right Reason in Hobbes’s Treatises

A. Bardin (2019): Materialism and Right Reason in Hobbes’s Treatises: A troubled foundation for Civil Science, in: History of Political Thought,
Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 85-110.

After abandoning the approach taken in The Elements of Law, Hobbes used De Cive to establish his new civil science on a materialist basis, thus challenging the dualist foundations of Descartes’s mechanical philosophy. This shift is analysed here with close reference to the discontinuity in Hobbes’s use of the concepts of ‘laws of nature’ and ‘right reason’. The article argues that, the descriptive nature of mechanics notwithstanding, De Cive’s foundational aim left civil science with the normative task of producing its own material conditions of possibility until, in Leviathan, Hobbes went as far as reconsidering Plato’s philosophical commitment to political pedagogy.

New article on Hobbes, Lucretius, and the Political Psychology of Peace

D. J. Kapust (2019): Hobbes, Lucretius, and the Political Psychology of Peace, in: History of Political Thought, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 246-269.

This paper explores Hobbes’s relationship to Lucretius. Building on scholarship dealing with Hobbes’s knowledge and use of Lucretius, I show that in Leviathan Hobbes decisively rejected central features of Lucretius’ argument. Hobbes’s rejection of these features, in turn, highlights the distinctiveness of key features of his argument about the passions and language, the distinctively authoritarian version of his contract theory, and his ultimate rejection of Lucretius’ Epicurean project.

New Volume: Interpreting Hobbes’s Political Philosophy, edited by S. A. Lloyd (Cambridge University Press)

S. A. Lloyd (ed.) (2019): Interpreting Hobbes’s Political Philosophy, Cambridge University Press

The essays in this volume provide a state-of-the-art overview of the central elements of Hobbes’s political philosophy and the ways in which they can be interpreted. The volume’s contributors offer their own interpretations of Hobbes’s philosophical method, his materialism, his psychological theory and moral theory, and his views on benevolence, law and civil liberties, religion, and women. Hobbes’s ideas of authorization and representation, his use of the ‘state of nature’, and his reply to the unjust ‘Foole’ are also critically analyzed. The essays will help readers to orient themselves in the complex scholarly literature while also offering groundbreaking arguments and innovative interpretations. The volume as a whole will facilitate new insights into Hobbes’s political theory, enabling readers to consider key elements of his thought from multiple perspectives and to select and combine them to form their own interpretations of his political philosophy.

Essays

  1. Methodologies of interpreting Hobbes: historical and philosophical, Adrian Blau
  2. Hobbes’s political-philosophical project: science and subversion, A. P. Martinich
  3. Hobbes’s philosophical method and the passion of curiosity, Gianni Paganini
  4. Hobbes, life, and the politics of self-preservation: the role of materialism in Hobbes’s political philosophy, Samantha Frost
  5. Human nature and motivation: Hamilton versus Hobbes, Michael J. Green
  6. On benevolence and love of others, Gabriella Slomp
  7. Interpreting Hobbes’s moral theory: rightness, goodness, virtue, and responsibility, S. A. Lloyd
  8. Interpreting Hobbes on civil liberties and rights of resistance, Susanne Sreedhar
  9. Hobbes and Christian belief, Johann Sommerville
  10. Hobbes on persons and authorization, Paul Weithman
  11. The character and significance of the state of nature, Peter Vanderschraaf
  12. Hobbes’s confounding Foole, Michael Byron
  13. ‘Not a woman-hater’, ‘no rapist’, or even inventor of ‘the sensitive male’? Feminist interpretations of Hobbes’s political theory and their relevance for Hobbes studies, Eva Odzuck
  14. The productivity of misreading: interpreting Hobbes in a Hobbesian contractarian perspective, Luc Foisneau