New article stressing intolerance in Hobbes

Boleslaw Z. Kabala (2019): The return of the intolerant Hobbes, in: History of European Ideas, DOI:

Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan presented a paradigm of the social contract that has proven foundational in Western political thought. A proper understanding of the philosopher’s thought is thus of paramount importance. I argue that today’s case for a religiously tolerant Hobbes has missed an important part of the historical record. I first consider an obscure but important document, the second edition of the Humble Proposals. It demonstrates that leading members of a seventeenth century Christian denomination, the Independents, considered a state-enforced confession of faith. Independents are generally seen as tolerant, and one of the arguments for Hobbesian toleration is that Hobbes endorsed them. But the second edition of the Humble Proposals aligns with the possibility in Hobbes that the civil sovereign will impose part III of Leviathan on the Universities and treat its contents as a legally required confession of faith – one that may be necessary for security, and the avoidance of civil war. Hobbes’s endorsement of Independency alone cannot be used to argue that his work leads to religious toleration. The evidence I present reinforces an earlier assessment and alongside other evidence points to the return of the intolerant Hobbes.

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.