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New book: Sovereignty as a Vocation in Hobbes’s Leviathan – New foundations, statecraft, and virtue

Hoye, Matthew (2023): Sovereignty as a Vocation in Hobbes’s Leviathan: New foundations, statecraft, and virtue, Amsterdam University Press.

Description:

This book is about virtue and statecraft in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan. Its overarching argument is that the fundamental foundation of Hobbes’s political philosophy in Leviathan is wise, generous, loving, sincere, just, and valiant—in sum, magnanimous—statecraft, whereby sovereigns aim to realize natural justice, manifest as eminent and other-regarding virtue.

I propose that concerns over the virtues of the natural person bearing the office of the sovereign suffuse Hobbes’s political philosophy, defining both his theory of new foundations and his critiques of law and obligation. These aspects of Hobbes’s thought are new to Leviathan, as they respond to limitations in his early works in political theory, Elements and De Cive—limitations made apparent by the civil wars and the regicide of Charles I. Though new, I argue that they tap into ancient political and philosophical ideas, foremostly the variously celebrated, mystified, and maligned figure of the orator founder.

New article on the Rhetoric of Hobbes’s Translation of Thucydides

Campbell, Chris (2021): The Rhetoric of Hobbes’s Translation of Thucydides, in: The Review of Politics, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0034670521000711

Description
In several key passages in Thomas Hobbes’s understudied translation of Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War, Hobbes’s Pericles directs audiences to distrust rhetoric in favor of calculative self-interest, inward-focused affective states, and an epistemic reliance on sovereignty. Hobbes’s own intervention via his translation of Thucydides involves similar rhetorical moves. By directing readers to learn from Thucydides, Hobbes conceals his own rhetorical appeals in favor of sovereignty while portraying rhetoric undermining sovereignty as manipulative, self-serving, and representative of the entire category of “rhetoric.” Hobbes’s double redescription of rhetoric is an important starting point for an early modern project: appeals that justify a desired political order are characterized as “right reason,” “the law of nature,” or “enlightenment,” while rhetoric constituting solidarities or publics outside the desired order is condemned. Hobbes’s contribution to this project theorizes rhetoric as a barrier to individual calculations of interest, placing a novel constraint on political life.

New collection of essays: A Companion to Hobbes

Adams, Marcus P. (ed.) (2021): A Companion to Hobbes. (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy). John Wiley & Sons.

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Latest issue of Hobbes Studies

Hobbes Studies, Volume 34, Issue 1 (Apr 2021)

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New piece on Hobbes: “Leviathan against the city”

Hoye, Jonathon Matthew (2020): Leviathan against the city, in: History of Political Thought, 41 (3), 419-449.

Description

Thomas Hobbes tends to be read through the lens of the nation-state. Recently, historians of urban politics have shown that borough politics were essential elements of the British politics, culminating in the civil wars. The purpose of this article is to contextualize the developments in Hobbes’s political theory within that urban history. Against the widespread interpretation that Hobbes’s theory of the state in Leviathan responds only to the ideology of national popular sovereignty, I argue that it also amounts to an assault on the practices of urban republican politics. To make my case, I triangulate the theory of the state in Leviathan using European ideological, local historical and textual coordinates. This perspective affords new insights into Hobbes’s understanding of democracy, republicanism, popular sovereignty and the state.

New article on the nature and person of the state

Johan Olsthoorn (2020): Leviathan Inc.: Hobbes on the nature and person of the state, in: History of European Ideas, June 16, pp. 1-16; https://doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2020.1779466

Abstract
This article aspires to make two original contributions to the vast literature on Hobbes’s account of the nature and person of the commonwealth: (1) I provide the first systematic analysis of his changing conception of ‘person’; and (2) use it to show that those who claim that the Hobbesian commonwealth is created by personation by fiction misconstrue his theory of the state. Whereas Elements/De Cive advance a metaphysics-based distinction between individuals (‘natural persons’) and corporations (‘civil persons’), from Leviathan onwards Hobbes contrasts individuals acting in their own name (‘natural persons’) with representatives (‘artificial persons’). These changes notwithstanding, Hobbes retains the same corporate conception of the state throughout. On the prevailing ‘fictionalist’ interpretation, the sovereign brings the commonwealth into existence by representing it. I argue, rather, that as an incorporation of natural persons, the commonwealth becomes one person through the authorized (i.e. non-fictitious) representation of each constituent member singly by one common representative (‘the sovereign’).

New article on the person and office of the sovereign in Hobbes’ Leviathan

Laurens van Apeldoorn (2019): On the person and office of the sovereign in Hobbes’ Leviathan, in: British Journal for the History of Philosophy,
https://doi.org/10.1080/09608788.2019.1613632

Abstract

I contextualize and interpret the distinction in Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651) between the capacities of the sovereign and show its importance for contemporary debates on the nature of Hobbesian sovereignty. Hobbes distinguishes between actions the sovereign does on personal title (as a natural person), and actions he undertakes in a political capacity (as artificial person and in the office of representative of the state). I argue that, like royalists defending King Charles I before and during the English civil war, he maintains that the highest magistrate is sovereign in both his natural and political capacities because the capacities are inseparable, though district. This position goes back to the treatment of Calvin’s Case by Francis Bacon and Edward Coke and has further precedents in medieval English constitutional thought. An important reason for Hobbes to include this doctrine in Leviathan, I suggest, is to provide a response to parliamentarians who employed the sovereign’s multiple capacities to justify armed resistance against the king. I show the relevance of this contextualization by intervening in two recent debates, regarding the possibility of constitutionalist limitations on the actions of the Hobbesian sovereign and regarding whether sovereignty is held by the commonwealth or by the person of the sovereign.

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.