The Power of Words. Political and Theological Science in Thomas Hobbes

In: Hobbes Studies

Far from being only an insincere homage to the spirit of his time, Hobbes’s concern for theology is a consequence of his political individualism. Irrespective of God’s real existence, in order to answer the ‘Foole’ and to assure legitimation and obedience to Leviathan, calculating reason is not enough, as individual faith in God and in the binding force of His law of nature is required. In Leviathan II, chapter XXXI, the correspondence between the earthly king, i.e. the mortal god, and the immortal God proves to be the starting point for a new political theology, conceived as a practical science for the needed order of peace in this unique, material world. The divine image of sovereignty, embodied by Almighty God, is the beginning and the end of an immanent, sacred history of salvation that resembles a utopian tale, not in an attempt to oppose or overturn the present political order, but to solve the problems of modern political rationality by means of theological imagination.

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     See K. Hoekstra“Hobbes and the Foole” in Political Theory1997 620-654; S.A. Lloyd Ideals As Interests in Hobbes’s Leviathan: The Power of Mind Over Matter Cambridge U. P. 1992 95-98; S.A. Lloyd Hobbes’s Reply to the Foole: “A Deflationary Definitional Interpretation” in Hobbes Studies 2005 50-73. More recently criticizing Hoekstra’s thesis many interesting remarks on the Fool’s question have been made by P. Springborg “Hobbes’s Fool the Insipiens and the Tyrant-King” in Political Theory 2010 1-27.

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  • 48

     See L. A. Weissberger“Machiavelli and Tudor England” in Political Science Quarterly1927 589-607; F. Raab The English Face of Machiavelli: A Changing Interpretation 1500-1700 Routledge & Kegan Paul London 1965; J. G. A. Pocock The Machiavellian Moment Princeton U. P. 1975. Concerning Hobbes’s attitude towards Machiavelli and Machiavellian tradition see more recently V. B. Sullivan Machiavelli Hobbes and the Formation of a Liberal Republicanism in England Cambridge U.P. 2004; A. Arienzo – G. Borrelli (eds.) Anglo-American Faces of Machiavelli Polimetrica Monza 2009.

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    H. WarrenderThe Political Philosophy of Hobbes. His Theory of ObligationClarendonOxford1957322.

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    WarrenderThe Political Philosophy of Hobbes326-329.

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    Pacchi“Hobbes e la potenza di Dio,” in Scritti hobbesiani75.

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    So B. MilnerHobbes: On Religion406.

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    HobbesAn Answer to a book published by Dr. Bramhall306.

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    WeberHobbes e l’histoire du salut158.

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     See G. Wright“Hobbes and the Economic Trinity” in British Journal for the History of Philosophy1999 397-428.

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    A. AmendolaIl sovrano e la maschera. Saggio sul concetto di persona in Thomas HobbesEsiNapoli1998217.

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    HobbesAn Answer to a book published by Dr. Bramhall349. A convincing answer to this question cannot be that “God is a part of the corporeal universe of which we can have no conception” (C. Leijenhorst Hobbes’s Corporeal Deity in “Rivista di Storia della Filosofia” 2004 87) for it tries to solve a logical problem through an appeal to mystery.

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