A Commonwealth for Galileo

Imagining a Hobbesian Utopia

In: Hobbes Studies
Elad Carmel History Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel,

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A Hobbesian utopia might sound paradoxical. Hobbes never prescribed a utopia per se, and he is well-known for his practical and pragmatic approach to human nature and to politics. Yet, this article identifies several utopian elements in Hobbes, starting with the ways in which his contemporaries thought of his work as utopian. Following Galileo and others, Hobbes might have been part of a utopian moment, or at least believed that he was, especially due to his novel and historic philosophy. Behind his dystopian description of the state of nature there is a utopian vision of a civilized, peaceful, and industrious society, the result of true moral philosophy. Finally, the differences between Hobbes and Plato notwithstanding, there might be one overlooked similarity: if Plato designed a republic where Socrates would not have been persecuted, Hobbes might have designed a commonwealth that would produce and allow future Galileos to work without hindrance.

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