Posts

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

New Article: The Political Theology of Betrayal: Hobbes’ Uzzah, and Schmitt’s Hobbes

Feisal G. Mohamed (2018): The Political Theology of Betrayal: Hobbes’ Uzzah, and Schmitt’s Hobbes, in: Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2, 11-33.

Abstract

Carl Schmitt’s interest in the writings of Thomas Hobbes is widely known, and clearly visible in Political Theology (1922). This essay explores the relationship between these two thinkers, especially surrounding the “protection- obedience axiom” that Schmitt strongly associated with Hobbes. As is apparent in Hobbes’ responses to the story of Uzzah, protection and obedience are more complex in his writings than might first appear. This essay considers these responses alongside those of John Donne, Richard Hooker, and Lancelot Andrewes. Schmitt tends to overlook this complexity, even as he comes to similar conclusions on the loyal subject’s exposure to the sovereign’s arbitrary violence. We will see that Schmitt is ambivalent about Hobbes, associating him with the advent of legal positivism, the strain of legal theory against which he continually strives. If Political Theology enlists Hobbes as an ally, then, it is on the point of methodology propping up Schmitt’s central argument: that political theory must be grounded in a sociology of the concept of sovereignty.

New Article: Materialism and Right Reason in Hobbes’s Political Treatises: A Troubled Foundation for Civil Science

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

Abstract

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.

Six chapters on Hobbes in: Paganini, Curiosity and the Passions of Knowledge

Gianni Paganini (ed.): Curiosity and the Passions of Knowledge from Montaigne to Hobbes, Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Bardi Edizioni, 2018.

  • Gianni Paganini, Hobbes Philosopher of Curiosity, p. 7-36
  • Patricia Springborg, Curiosity, Anxiety and Religion in Thomas Hobbes, p. 287-314
  • Franco Giudice, Conoscenza e curiosità nella teoria ottica di Thomas Hobbes, p. 315-334
  • Daniel Garber, Curiosity, Noveltu, and the Politics of Opinion in Hobbes, p. 335-352
  • S.A. Lloyd, The Moral Assessment of Human Curiosity in Hobbes’s Leviathan, p. 353-374
  • P.-F. Moreau, La curiosité chez Hobbes et Spinoza, p. 375-391

New Article: War by Other Means? Incentives for Power Seekers in Thomas Hobbes’s Political Philosophy

Eva Odzuck: War by Other Means? Incentives for Power Seekers in Thomas Hobbes’s Political Philosophy, in: The Review of Politics, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp. 21-46

https://doi.org/10.1017/S0034670518000931

Abstract

The problem of the power seeker is of crucial importance for Hobbes’s political philosophy. While education might aid in changing the behavior of some people, Hobbes is clear that there are limits to the effectiveness of education and that incurable, unsocial power seekers will persist. In my analysis, I ask whether and, if so, how Hobbes can also get these incurable power seekers on board. The result of my findings that Hobbes provides a huge variety of treatments for power seekers, including incentives to betray and exploit their fellow citizens by employing a public gesture of civility, has implications for Hobbes research: it shows the complexity and costs of Hobbes’s “solution” to the problem of war and corrects a widespread developmental hypothesis about the concept of honor in Hobbes’s works. Thereby, it can also enrich a recent diagnosis about the decline of honor in modern societies.

Workshop on “Hobbes & Gender” in Erlangen

From 22 – 23 November 2018, the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg hosted a workshop on “Hobbes & Gender”, which was organised by Eva Odzuck and Alexandra Chadwick in cooperation with the European Hobbes Society.

A variety of international scholars with special interests in Hobbes and feminism were invited to discuss their pre-circulated papers: Sharon Lloyd, Susanne Sreedhar, Joanne Boucher, Joel van Fossen, Alissa MacMillan, Eun Kyung Min, Meghan Robison and Ericka Tucker.

The event was aimed at contextualising Hobbes’s theory of state, power and sovereignty along the lines of natural maternal dominion, the role of what Carol Pateman has called the ‘sexual contract’, and a general understanding of Hobbes’s views on sex and gender. While all participants agreed that sex and gender is a topic with a lot of potential for further research in Hobbes studies, there was strong disagreement about whether Hobbes can be considered as a pioneer in feminist (political) theory, empowering women in their role as natural sovereigns, or whether he ultimately reverts to a naturalistic account of gender roles. Here is the poster and programme.

We would like to thank all workshop participants for their contributions. Also thanks to the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg for making available the workshop venue and to the Office for Gender and Diversity of the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg that kindly supported the event.

A selection of the revised papers will be published in a special issue of Hobbes Studies after a peer review process.

New Article: Rethinking the sexual contract. The case of Thomas Hobbes

Lorenzo Rustighi (2018): Rethinking the sexual contract: The case of Thomas Hobbes, in: Philosophy & Social Criticism

https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453718814881

Description

Feminist scholars have long debated on a key contradiction in the political theory of Thomas Hobbes: While he sees women as free and equal to men in the state of nature, he postulates their subjection to male rule in the civil state without any apparent explanation. Focusing on Hobbes’s construction of the mother–child relationship, this article suggests that the subjugation of the mother to the father epitomizes the neutralization of the ancient principle of ‘governance’, which he replaces with a novel concept of ‘power’ as formally authorized command. This scrutiny leads to three main conclusions: (1) a radicalization of Pateman’s concept of ‘sexual contract’; (2) the acknowledgement that patriarchy is inseparable from the logic of political authority constructed by Hobbes; and (3) the claim that criticism of patriarchal rule requires an overall problematization of the mainstream conception of political participation we have inherited from modern political science.

New Book: Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law by Kody W. Cooper (University of Notre Dame Press)

Kody W. Cooper (2018): Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law (University of Notre Dame Press)

Description

Has Hobbesian moral and political theory been fundamentally misinterpreted by most of his readers? Since the criticism of John Bramhall, Hobbes has generally been regarded as advancing a moral and political theory that is antithetical to classical natural law theory. Kody Cooper challenges this traditional interpretation of Hobbes in Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law. Hobbes affirms two essential theses of classical natural law theory: the capacity of practical reason to grasp intelligible goods or reasons for action and the legally binding character of the practical requirements essential to the pursuit of human flourishing. Hobbes’s novel contribution lies principally in his formulation of a thin theory of the good. This book seeks to prove that Hobbes has more in common with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of natural law philosophy than has been recognized. According to Cooper, Hobbes affirms a realistic philosophy as well as biblical revelation as the ground of his philosophical-theological anthropology and his moral and civil science. In addition, Cooper contends that Hobbes’s thought, although transformative in important ways, also has important structural continuities with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of practical reason, theology, social ontology, and law. What emerges from this study is a nuanced assessment of Hobbes’s place in the natural law tradition as a formulator of natural law liberalism. This book will appeal to political theorists and philosophers and be of particular interest to Hobbes scholars and natural law theorists.

Table of contents

  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • The foundations of Hobbes’s natural law philosophy
  • Hobbesian moral and civil science : rereading the doctrine of severability
  • Hobbes and the good of life
  • The legal character of the laws of nature
  • The essence of Leviathan : the person of the commonwealth and the common good
  • Hobbes’s natural law account of civil law
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index