According to Hobbes, a commonwealth can only occur when the natural multitude of men are made one thanks to a covenantal device. The artificial unity of the political community can be seen as strengthened by the use of concepts that reflect some natural unity, such as “body” or “person”. Both notions can indeed be found in Hobbes’s political treatises, but the degree of importance attached to them varies greatly. The key to this evolution is to be found in De cive, where Hobbes explicitly dismisses the notion of a body politic and substitutes the concept of person for it. This paper examines the significance of this conceptual change by following its trajectory from Elements of Law to Leviathan and discussing its implications for Hobbes’s understanding of civil unity.
This paper presents the state of research on Hobbes in France these last 7-8 years. First of all, it explains how the generation of forerunners in the 1970s and 1980s has been replaced by the birth of a vigorous French school of Hobbes scholars in the 1990s and then by a new generation of academics during the recent years. The first part of this paper deals with the institutions and the institutional life concerned with Hobbes in France (Centre Hobbes, Groupe Hobbes, conferences, etc.). The second part is devoted to eight recent monographs on the English philosopher. The third one is focused on various collections of papers as well as special issues. The fourth part reckons five recent translations into French of some of Hobbes's works (Elements of Law, Latin Leviathan, Vitae, De cive). The whole gives a complete account of the intense activity of scholars on Hobbes in France today, including works that are about to be published.