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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was revived in the seventeenth-century Neo-Epicureanism of Pierre Gassendi who also reworked Epicurus’s and Lucretius’s outdated psychology, transforming it into a more modern “mechanistic” theory of mind.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.

Book: Literature and the Law of Nations 1580-1680

Christopher N. WarrenLiterature and the Law of Nations 1580-1680 (Oxford University Press, 2015)

About this Book: In this groundbreaking study, Christopher Warren argues that early modern literary genres were deeply tied to debates about global legal order and that today’s international law owes many of its most basic suppositions to early modern literary culture. Literature and the Law of Nations shows how the separation of scholarship on law from scholarship on literature has limited the understanding of international law on both sides. Warren suggests that both literary and legal scholars have tacitly accepted tendentious but politically consequential assumptions about whether international law is “real” law. Literature and the Law of Nations recognizes the specific nature of early modern international law by showing how major writers of the English Renaissance-including Shakespeare, Milton, and Hobbes-deployed genres like epic, tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, and history to shore up the canonical subjects and objects of modern international law. Warren demonstrates how Renaissance literary genres informed modern categories like public international law, private international law, international legal personality, and human rights. Students and scholars of Renaissance literature, intellectual history, the history of international law, and the history of political thought will find in Literature and the Law of Nations a rich interdisciplinary argument that challenges the usual accounts by charting a new literary history of international law.

Contains the chapter ‘From Imperial History to International Law: Thucydides, Hobbes, and the Law of Nations’.