Dirk Brantl and Daniel Eggers
In this paper I examine how Hobbes’ philosophy can be read from an Arendtian perspective. I argue that Arendt provided two different interpretations of Hobbes: one set down in The Origins of Totalitarianism, where Hobbes is depicted as the spokesman of the emerging bourgeoisie; and another that she developed later, scattered among various texts such as The Human Condition and Between Past and Future. I focus on this second interpretation and on her analysis of concepts such as common sense, authority and sovereignty. Firstly, I examine how she changes the meaning of common sense, and how this shift is linked to what Arendt understands by the expression “estrangement from the world.” Secondly, I explain how Hobbes redefined the concept of authority and how his notion of sovereignty deliberately conflated the dual concepts of authority and power.
This review traces recent developments in German Hobbes scholarship. Relevant publications are discussed along three major fields of inquiry: Hobbes and Liberalism, Hobbes on Politics and Religions, and Hobbes on the Passions, Politics, and Education.
Pufendorf, Christian Thomasius, and Hegel
This article analyses how the reception of Hobbes in Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was determined within the context of the Holy Roman Empire. It argues that it is precisely this context that forms the peculiarities of the Hobbes reception in Pufendorf, Thomasius, and Hegel. It thereby offers a new way of viewing the development of the particular political theories of these three figures and their relationship to the English philosopher’s political thought.
Cosmology and Artifice
This paper seeks to examine two moments of the subject’s identification with substance in modernity, namely, the body in Hobbesian philosophy and the individual substance in Leibnizian thought. In Hobbes, to be a subject signifies to be subjected (to imaginary space, to the movements transmitted by means of shock, as well as to the sovereign), so that the body-substance is characterized by not having in itself its principle of movement. In Leibniz, for his turn, a subject (understood as substance) is that which contains in its own nature everything that can be truly predicated about it, implying that it is the foundation and principle of its own activity, or, in a word, it is self-sufficient. Nonetheless, although Hobbesian body is characterized by its inertia and Leibnizian substance by its self-sufficiency, it is my purpose to indicate that the former is more crucial than the latter to the constitution of the modern conception of subjectivity, i.e., of the subject as the center of action and as a founding power, capable of establishing a new order by its decision. This is not possible in Leibnizian philosophy, for, according to it, human activity, like that of any other substance, consists solely in the actualization of the divine plan of the best of all possible worlds.
Thomas Hobbes on Spiritual Possession and (Civil) Exorcism
Ismael del Olmo
The aim of this paper is to trace Thomas Hobbes’s arguments for the rejection of spiritual possession in Leviathan (1651). Several layers of Hobbes’s thought converge in this subject: his suggestion regarding the sovereign’s right to control religious doctrine; his mechanistic critique of incorporeal substances; his tirade against demonology and Pagan philosophy; his ideas about fear and the natural seeds of religion; his Biblical criticism. Hobbes’s reflections over the matter of spiritual possession allowed him to simultaneously attack institutionalized and charismatic supernatural experiences, rejecting on Biblical as well as philosophical grounds the possibility of demonic and divine possession. This assault on traditional pneumatology led him to new interpretations of the notions of spirit and immateriality, a core element in Leviathan’s resignification of the interaction between nature and supernature. The paper will address Hobbes’s call for a civil exorcism―political, exegetical, and philosophical―against the spiritual powers that possess the Commonwealth.