The Coming American Revolution. Dissident Marxism in the United States: Volume 3
Edited by Paul Le Blanc, Thomas Bias and Bryan D. Palmer
The Civil Rights Act of 1875
Alan Friedlander and Richard Allan Gerber
A History of Religious Thought in Early Islam
Josef van Ess
Edited by Gwendolin Goldbloom
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.
Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass
Despite advocating for the necessity of absolutism, Hobbes is adamant that authority can only properly be derived from an act of human artifice and consent. But if the institution of sovereignty is subject to genuine choice, how can it be necessarily absolutist? I argue that one way of resolving this apparent dilemma is to focus on how Hobbes constructs and defends his own claim to authority in the Introduction to Leviathan. By encouraging his readers to read themselves and others, rather than rely on books, Hobbes ironically calls into question his own authority at the outset of his own book. But rather than subverting his claim to authority, it only strengthens it. After examining how this seemingly paradoxical tactic works, I demonstrate how an analogous claim applies to Hobbes’s account of politics.