Article: Hobbes’ Frontispiece: Authorship, Subordination and Contract

Janice Richardson: ‘Hobbes’ Frontispiece: Authorship, Subordination and Contract’, Law and Critique, 27, 1 (2016).

Abstract: In this article I argue that the famous image on Hobbes’ frontispiece of Leviathan provides a more honest picture of authority and of contract than is provided by today’s liberal images of free and equal persons, who are pictured as sitting round a negotiating table making a decision as to the principles on which to base laws. Importantly, in the seventeenth century, at the start of modern political thought, Hobbes saw no contradiction between contractual agreement and subordination. I will draw out these arguments by comparing three images of politics that employ the human body: Hobbes’ frontispiece is compared firstly with an earlier picture of the state, the illustration of the Fable of the Belly, and then with a later Rawlsian image of the social contract described above. At stake is Hobbes’ view of two associated concepts: authorship and authority. I argue that Hobbes’ image is a vivid portrayal of a ‘persona covert’, akin to the feme covert, a wife characterised in common law as so dominated by her husband that she is imagined as being ‘covered’ by his body.

Article: The Beast and the Sovereign according to Hobbes

Arnaud Milanese: ‘The Beast and the Sovereign according to Hobbes’, Philosophy Today, 60, 1 (2016).

Abstract: Hobbes obviously thought politics with metaphors relating politics to bestiality and monstrosity: in De Cive, a man is a wolf to a man, and two of his major political books are entitled with the name of a biblical monster, Leviathan and Behemoth. Did Hobbes mean that political problems emerge from a natural violence of men and that the political solution to these problems must be found in sovereign violence? This contribution tries to demonstrate that these references do not outline any natural human ugliness but a double bind of culture and society (which is organized and developed for natural reason but thanks to artificial means). For human reasons, the historical development of human life separates this life from humanity in two ways—politics and history turn humanity into monstrosity and divinity (a man is also a god to a man and Leviathan is also a mortal god), and Behemoth means that historical violence is a cultural product.

Your top 10 Leviathan articles?

I was recently asked to recommend my top Hobbes articles for a new edition of Hobbes’s Leviathan, currently being prepared by David Johnston (Columbia) for Norton. This edition will replace the original 1996 one edited by Johnston and the late Richard Flathman.

Here is my list of 10. Any thoughts? What would your top 10 be? (Comments are open!)


1. Tom Sorell, ‘The science in Hobbes’s politics’, in Tom Sorell, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes (CUP, 1996).

2. Kinch Hoekstra, ‘Hobbesian equality’, in Sharon Lloyd, ed., Hobbes Today (CUP, 2013).

3. Quentin Skinner, ‘Leviathan: liberty redefined’, in Hobbes and Republican Liberty (CUP, 2008).

4. Jane Jaquette, ‘Defending liberal feminism: insights from Hobbes’, in Nancy Hirschmann and Joanne Wright, eds., Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012).

5. Mónica Brito Vieira, ‘Juridical representation’, in The Elements of Representation in Hobbes (Brill, 2009).

6. Sharon Lloyd, ‘The reciprocity interpretation of Hobbes’s moral philosophy’, in Morality in the Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes (CUP, 2009).

7. A.P. Martinich, ‘Religion’, in Hobbes (Routledge, 2005).

8. Teresa Bejan, ‘Teaching the Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes on education’, Oxford Review of Education 36:5 (2010).

9. Jules Townshend, ‘Hobbes as possessive individualist: interrogating the C. B. Macpherson thesis’, Hobbes Studies 12 (1999).

10. Noel Malcolm, ‘Hobbes’s theory of international relations’, in Aspects of Hobbes (OUP, 2002).


Here’s the thinking behind my list:

(1) This is a ‘holistic’ list: one choice affects the others, because (a) I decided that no author could appear more than once, and (b) I sought a relatively wide coverage – so, no room for more than one article on representation, say. Obviously, though, there are significant omissions, e.g. rhetoric, law.

(2) Contributions had to be relatively short, in English, and accessible to advanced undergraduates.

(4) I’ve gone for modern rather than ‘classic’ contributions – which will not be to everyone’s taste, doubtless! So, please do say below what you would prefer, whether for individual topics or as a whole set of 10.



Article: “My Highest Priority Was to Absolve the Divine Laws”: The Theory and Politics of Hobbes’ Leviathan in a War of Religion

Meirav Jones:  ‘“My Highest Priority Was to Absolve the Divine Laws”: The Theory and Politics of Hobbes’ Leviathan in a War of Religion’, Political Studies, Online First (2016).

Abstract: In his autobiography, Thomas Hobbes stated that he wrote his most influential work of political theory, Leviathan, to “absolve the divine laws” in response to “atrocious crimes being attributed to the commands of God.” This article attempts to take Hobbes seriously, and to read Leviathan as a contribution to the religious politics of the English Civil War. I demonstrate Hobbes’ appropriation of the religious terms and sources characterizing civil-war political discourse, and explore these terms and sources both in Hobbes’ response to religiously motivated politics and in the foundations of his most important political ideas. Hobbes emerges from this account as a critic of Christian politics and enthusiasm broadly conceived, as a political philosopher who employed an Israelite political model, and as an erstwhile ally of some of those usually considered his deepest opponents.