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New Article: Hobbes’s great divorce. Civil religion in comparative and historical perspective

Jeremy Kleidosty (2019): Hobbes’s great divorce. Civil religion in comparative and historical perspective, in: Intellectual History Review, Vol. 29, No. 1

https://doi.org/10.1080/17496977.2019.1546444

Abstract

Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan is well known for presenting a political philosophy based on a mechanistic account of human beings that offers the pain–pleasure response (or the peace–fear response) as a basis on which to make political choices. Although it has been subjected to countless treatments over the centuries, its account of civil religion in Part 3, “Of a Christian Commonwealth”, based on a highly original reading of the Bible, is deserving of further examination. Following an overview of a long line of pagan and later monotheistic Christian and Muslim thinkers who advance the position that religion is a way of civilizing or uniting the masses, including Thucydides, Cicero, Augustine, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Pomponazzi, amongst others, I argue that Hobbes turns this notion on its head by arguing that religion can cause the de-civilizing of the masses, and indeed can foment civil war, leading him to the solution of separating belief from practice, with the former a solely private matter and the latter the exclusive purview of the state. In its Hobbesian schema, this great divorce of belief and practice – rather than a call for tolerance or pluralism – is sacrifice that is necessary in order to create the religious homogeneity required to sustain the body politic in the form of the great Leviathan.

New Book: Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Thomas Hobbes by Timothy Raylor (Oxford University Press)

Timothy Raylor (2018): Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Thomas Hobbes (Oxford University Press) (forthcoming)

Description

Thomas Hobbes claimed to have founded the discipline of civil philosophy (political science). The claim did not go uncontested and in recent years the relationship of philosophical reasoning to rhetorical persuasion in Hobbes’s work has become a significant area of discussion, as scholars attempt to align his disparaging remarks about rhetoric with his dazzling practice of it in works like Leviathan. The dominant view is that, having rejected an early commitment to humanism and with it rhetoric when he adopted the ‘scientific’ approach to philosophy in the late 1630s, Hobbes later came to re-embrace it as an essential aid to or part of philosophy. Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Thomas Hobbes proposes that Hobbes was, from first to last, dubious about the place of rhetoric in civil society, and came to see it as a pernicious presence within philosophy – a position from which he did not retreat. It offers a fresh and expanded picture of Hobbes’s humanism by examining his years as a country house tutor; his teaching and his translation of Thucydides, the influence on him of Bacon, and the range of his early natural historical and philosophical interests. In demonstrating the distinctively Aristotelian character of his understanding of rhetoric, the book also revisits the new approach to philosophy Hobbes adopted at the end of the 1630s, clarifying the nature and scope of his concern about the contamination of philosophy and political life by the procedures of rhetorical argumentation.

Table of contents

Introduction
1: Noble Tutor
2: Civil History and Style in Thucydides
3: Poetry and Natural History in the Peak
4: Aristotle’s Rhetoric in the Schoolroom
5: Logic, Rhetoric, and Philosophy
6: Discovery, Proof, and Style
7: Rhetoric and Leviathan
Conclusion
Appendix: The Authorship of The Briefe of the Art of Rhetorique
List of Manuscripts

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’.