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New Article: Gassendi and Hobbes in Dialogue on Psychology, Ethics, and Politics

Paganini, Gianni (2020): Early Modern Epicureanism. Gassendi and Hobbes in Dialogue on Psychology, Ethics, and Politics, in: Oxford Handbook of Epicurus and Epicureanism, ed. by Phillip Mitsis, OUP, DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199744213.013.26

Description
Two fundamental notions of Epicureanism took new life in modern political thought: that of the social contract, the agreed and consensual basis of law and authority, and that of the “state of nature” that precedes it. There is no question that among all ancient traditions the Garden was one of very few to base law and politics on the contract and consent of the contracting parties. Yet, by contrast with the Sophists, who emphasized the conventional aspects so far as to be open to the charge of pure relativism, Epicureans looked for a “weak” but “natural” foundation of the social contract deducing it from an idea or mental anticipation (prolēpsis) of justice based on utility. This approach was revived in the seventeenth-century Neo-Epicureanism of Pierre Gassendi who also reworked Epicurus’s and Lucretius’s outdated psychology, transforming it into a more modern “mechanistic” theory of mind. During the greater part of the 1640s Hobbes and Gassendi both lived in Paris and were in close personal contact. The same period was for both thinkers decisive for the construction of their works: the Syntagma philosophicum for Gassendi, De civeDe motuloco et tempore, and Leviathan for Hobbes. This chapter explores the complex interplay between them, especially with regards to psychology, the foundations of ethics, legal theory, and political philosophy, stressing the important role that ancient Epicureanism and seventeenth-century Neo-Epicureanism played in the birth of a modern theory of individual rights.

Chapter: From Chaos to Order: The Role of the Self in Hobbes’ Moralism

Francis Offer: ‘From Chaos to Order: The Role of the Self in Hobbes’ Moralism’ in Elvis Imafidon and Brenda Hofmery (eds.), The Ethics of Subjectivity: Perspectives since the Dawn of Modernity, London, Palsgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp.11-23.

Abstract: In this essay, an attempt is made to extrapolate from Hobbes’ political theory, his views on morality, as espoused in his seminal work, Leviathan.1 Hobbes’ goal in Leviathan was not primarily to evolve a moral theory, but because the socio-political situation that precipitated his theorizing was beginning to defile all known rules of morality, it becomes imperative to examine the place of morality in his philosophical construct. Besides, the book Leviathan also detailed Hobbes’ physicalist outlook, which greatly influenced his interpretation of human actions on the basis of materialism. Hobbes’ concern and enthusiasm for science underscore his belief that everything that happens can be accounted for by the law of motion. For him, “knowing” and “willing” are merely the appearances of subtle motions and they underlie our desires and aversions, which ultimately define our concept of good and evil. Morality is thus not hinged on some reality beyond the reach and control of men, as was often held by his predecessors — particularly before Descartes. Rather it is a product of human social dwelling, a creation of social actors.

Article: ‘Hobbes on the Scientific Study of the Human Mind’

Laurens van Apeldoorn: ‘Hobbes on the Scientific Study of the Human Mind’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 97,3 (2015)

Abstract: This paper considers Hobbes’ scientific study of the human mind and the method that structures it. I argue that Hobbes approaches the mind – as he approaches the inanimate natural world – in accordance with the method of “physics” as set out in the fourth and last part of De Corpore. I discuss this method and show how and why it applies to the study of the human mind, in particular in his most famous exposition of the topic in Leviathan. This understanding of Hobbes’ method allows us to reconsider and reject a number of criticisms of his work: first, that Hobbes’ scientific study of the human mind is inconsistent because it also relies on introspection; second, that his approach fails because it is not, and cannot be, fully deductive, as a result of which the introduction of psychological concepts is unwarranted; and, finally, that his scientific study of the mind is superfluous because he never sufficiently shows it is important for his moral and political philosophy to understand the mind in accordance with the method of physics.