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.
1 The Spirit in the Leviathan
Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) expresses through a striking simile the threat that religious autonomy can pose to public salus.1 The body politic is often invaded by a “spirituall power” that annuls the operations of the soul (“the Civill Power”), and takes control of the nerves, “the terrour of punishments, and hope of rewards”; the result is no other than “the Fire of a Civill warre”. This political disease can be compared to epilepsy, the presence of “an unnaturall spirit, or wind in the head” that obstructs the nerves and prevents the right functioning of the soul; “he that is seized therewith—Hobbes adds—, falleth down sometimes into the water, and sometimes into the fire, as a man deprived of his senses”. In their ignorance of natural causes, the ancient Jews mistook this disease “to be one kind of possession by Spirits”.2 This belief belongs to Jesus’s times: the mention of the water and the fire, although Hobbes does not care to tell us, is taken from an exorcistical scene depicted in Mark 9: 14–29.3 Hobbes had used the imaginery of possession earlier in the chapter for the same polemical purpose. If a subject obeys an independent spiritual power, he lives under two competing authorities, witnessing “a Ghostly Authority against the Civill”. And this is “a Kingdom divided in it selfe, and cannot stand”.4 Again, Hobbes does not give us any source for these words; they are those of Mark 3: 24, Matthew 12: 25, and Luke 11: 17, by which Jesus defends himself against the teachers of the Law, who accuse him of casting out demons, not by the Holy Spirit, but by the power of Beelzebul.5
This insistence on the theme of possession as a rhetorical device against the threat of autonomous religious powers is certainly the obverse of Leviathan’s philosophical and Biblical critique of spiritual possession. A critique that is but a fragment of the early modern crisis of certainty; Hobbes is indeed a key figure, along with Descartes and Spinoza, in the redefinition of the notions of matter and spirit.6 It may well be said that the core of Leviathan, the “King of the Proud”, is his bitter reaction against those who asserted that their particular views regarding spirits gave them authority over temporal bodies.7 To avert these claims, Hobbes engaged in a debate over the traditional definition of the spiritual and the material realms, which in turn resulted in an original outlook over the connections between nature and supernature. This is not a trivial matter: control over the (public) definition of spirit is part of the “Essence of Soveraignity”; and it is a crucial right because, as Hobbes implies, pneumatological ideas lay at the core of religion: “If he [the Sovereign] give away the government of Doctrines, men will be frighted into rebellion with the feare of Spirits”.8
The complex discussion over this subject shows Hobbes’s dexterity in combining Biblical exegesis, natural philosophy, anthropology, and political theory. An important part of Leviathan can be read as an attack on the “superstitious fear of Spirits”, well nurtured by religious institutions and leaders.9 More precisely, in Leviathan (as in Elements of Law), Hobbes stands against “incorporeal substances” and “spirits supernatural”, scholastic reifications of the immaterial which fueled the belief in the (natural) immortality of the soul, in hell and purgatory, in ghosts and apparitions, in transubstantiation, in prophetic dreams and visions, and other experiences of the early modern spiritual world.10 Such metaphysical doctrines hide a political core. Hobbes ridiculed the scholastic definition of spirit, but at the same time warned about its efficacy, grounded in men’s ignorance and fears: was it not like a scarecrow, an empty name designed to terrorize the subjects, and prevent them from obeying the laws of the sovereign?11
This paper seeks to understand one layer of Hobbes’s critique concerning spirits: his assault on spiritual possession. It is important to highlight that this critique is delivered against demonic as well as divine possession.12 Indeed, for Hobbes, they were two by-products of the same exegetical and philosophical errors. His discussion of these topics in Leviathan helped, in the first place, to challenge the theoretical ground upon which Catholics justified demonic possession. Hobbes clearly states that the notion of incorporeal substance allows belief in hell, purgatory, demonology, and “the use of Exorcisme”; it is with these terrors that “they keep (or thinke they keep) the People more in awe of their Power”—the Latin version is categorical: Per Exorcismos & caeteram Demonologiam populos terrent.13 At the same time, his critique of divine possession allowed him to counter the ecstatic claims of subversive radical reformers and prophets who, convinced of being inspired by the spirit of God, demanded obedience from the sovereign’s subjects.14 This attack on spiritual possession is indeed one of Leviathan’s many originalities: in his eagerness to deactivate all possible interpenetration between matter and spirit, Hobbes made one target out of two often incompatible enemies, institution and charisma.15
First, we will analyse briefly Hobbes’s criticism of the scholastic notion of incorporeal substance, addressing his theory of perception and his definition of spirits as matter. Then we will turn to his parallel rejection of demonic and divine inhabitation, and his strategies of naturalization and metaphorization of contemporary and scriptural spirit-possession experiences. We will see how the mechanistic and exegetical views outlined in Leviathan render possession impossible. Finally, we will highlight Hobbes’s ideas for a civil exorcism that could liberate Christians from these subversive spiritual powers and their pernicious doctrines. A word on the persistence of these issues: facing a world like ours, in which different entities ―from states and would-be states to local factions and entire communities― support their claims to earthly power with references to sacred texts and sacred leaders, it does not seem trivial to take a look at a debate in which the foundations of divine Revelation were being openly discussed, and, perhaps for the first time, openly treated as a part of human culture.
2 What Spirits are Not, and What They are: Hobbes’s Understanding of Nature
As is well known, sense perception, in Hobbes’s view, does not depend on sensible qualities and species, but on internal physical reactions to outward stimuli; these reactions generate what he calls “seemings”, “fancies”, and “phantasmes”. What we perceive is a subjective phenomenon, which means that external objects are not the same thing as the images and ideas that we derive from them. Because the process involves a projection, most men think that their internal perceptions and imaginations correspond to outward substantial phenomena.16 This discussion is essential for Hobbes’s understanding of spirits, and it is connected to his theory of the natural seeds of religion.17 The fear that stems from ignorance of natural causes and anxiety over their future well-being drives men to think that their own imaginations—that is, the powers that are held to be responsible for their good or bad fortune—are substances with external reality. And because they do not see these powers, they think of them as forms without matter, as incorporeal bodies.18 This misunderstanding of nature’s operations, Hobbes notes, is the origin of the Pagan gods, and also of daemones, spirits good or bad, invisible and powerful agents that pervade Pagan religion, and which found their way first into Judaism, and then into Christianity.19 The Scholastics developed meaningless Aristotelian jargon to give substance to these imaginations, as if they were “not Inhabitants of their own Brain, but of the Air, or of Heaven, or Hell; not Phantasmes, but Ghosts”.20
What about Hobbes’s own definition of spirit? For him, an “incorporeal substance” is an outright contradiction, because substances, as part of the res of the universe and contrary to “seemings” and phantasmata, occupy space. Spirits, then, are substances, that is, they are bodies, although subtle and invisible: witness the air and the vital spirits.21 “That which is not Body—Hobbes concludes—is no part of the Universe: And because the Universe is All, that which is no part of it, is Nothing”.22 This outlook results in some perplexing propositions: when Christ walked on the water, the Apostles thought of him as a spirit, “meaning thereby an Aeriall Body, and not a Phantasme”.23 Moreover, as is well known, in his controversy with John Bramhall, he admitted the corporeality of God; indeed, He is “a most pure, and most simple corporeal spirit”.24 To think of Him as incorporeal, although a sign of pietas, is to make Him a phantasma. If God should be incorporeal, He would be “nothing at all”, resembling—the example is telling—“the Sprights that were said to walk in Church-yards”, mere imaginations conceived by “the Exorcists in the Church of Rome”.25
3 What Spirits are and May be: Hobbes’s Reading of the Bible
Because all that exists is body, Hobbes will not accept spirits as “incorporeal substances”. This means that the Scholastic notion of angels and demons as immaterial entities inhabiting a preternatural realm is effaced. But if this is so, what are we to do with scriptural passages concerning spirits? Leviathan affirms that they may refer to metaphors, “an office, or quality”, mental images, or substances.26 First, “Spirit” may stand, in a metaphorical sense, for a disposition or inclination; thus, “the Spirit of God” would be a pious inclination, and an “unclean spirit” would be an evil disposition.27 Second, “Satan”, “Devil”, and “Abaddon” are offices and qualities (“enemy”, “accuser”, “destroyer”); these Biblical terms, which should never have been left untranslated, address not substantial spirits, but earthly, human enemies of the Kingdom of God.28 In the third place, we may think of “spirits” as mental images, the product of sense perception, dreams, and visions. In Biblical times, phantasmata were often mistaken with real substances, that is, angels of God or evil angels.29
In the case of good spirits, Hobbes affirms that they could be understood as “Accidents of the brain”: Scripture shows how dreams, visions, and images can work as supernatural messengers (ἄγγελοι, that is, “angels”) of God’s will. Rejecting the substantial character of angels does not amount to reject their existence: it is not ontology but their role that makes them angels.30 In the case of evil spirits, Hobbes goes further. His diatribe against the “confederacy of deceivers” and their demonology shows his preoccupation with the philosophical, religious, and political implications of erroneous metaphysical doctrines.31 Hence, demons are not just “accidents” but “Idols of the Brain”, and an idol, according to Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 8: 4) and sound philosophy, is nothing; nothing more, at least, than mechanical agitation in our brains.32 Demonology, then, works with “Idols or Phantasms of the braine, without any reall nature of their own”; belief in these imaginations drives men closer to Paganism than to Christianity.33 The Questions concerning liberty, necessity, and chance (1656) insists on the general tenor of Hobbes’s views: in the Scripture, the “devil” is either mere fancy or a human enemy ―witness Bramhall’s overall conclusion: Hobbes “hath killed the great infernal Devil”.34
But it is also true—and here lies the scriptural limit for Hobbes’s pneumatological skepticism—that the Bible, and specially Christ’s teaching, implies that angels and demons are real and substantial beings.35 Because the Revelation teaches us that these spirits exist, we must accept them. Nevertheless, Hobbes denies the possibility of constructing a pneumatology, that is, a scientific knowledge of the nature of these Biblical entities. Implied in the English Leviathan, this rejection is clear in the Elements of Law, in Critique du De Mundo (c. 1643), and in the Appendix to the Latin version of Leviathan. Christians, he affirms, believe that there are immortal spirits such as angels and demons; but, as with any aspect of the Revelation, it is impossible to know this, that is to say, to have natural evidence of such entities, because we cannot perceive them. Angeleology (and more important, demonology), in this sense, are impossible sciences.36 This did not prevent Hobbes from insisting on his opinions: if angels and demons exist, what should we think about their nature? Philosophy, as seen above, suggests that they have some kind of body; the Bible, for its part, does not teach that these spirits are “incorporeal”.37 If we must accept that God can send apparitions that are “reall and substantiall”, we may understand them as “subtile Bodies”.38 They are supernatural because God uses them as His “Ministers, and Messengers”, not because of their ontology. This is clear from Hobbes’s Elements of Law: “But spirits supernatural commonly signify some substance without dimension; which two words do flatly contradict one another”.39 The traditional equation between supernature and immateriality is thus wholly rejected.
To summarise, Hobbes presents his Biblical critique in two ways. First, he offers his own exegesis of key passages, interpreting spirits as metaphors, offices and qualities, and mental images. Second, when forced by the Scripture to acknowledge the substantial reality of Biblical spirits, he denied that they were “supernatural” in the traditional sense, that is, incorporeal, and insisted instead on his own notion of spirits as bodies. This last emphatic stance, as we shall see, will be of the utmost importance for denying the possibility of possession.
4 What Spiritual Possession may be, and What it is Not: Hobbes on Demoniacs, Enthusiasm, and Bodies within Bodies
Let us now turn to Hobbes’s ideas about spiritual possession. We will start with his strategy of metaphorization. He affirms: “The Scriptures by the Spirit of God in man, mean a mans spirit, enclined to Godlinesse (…). In the like sense, the spirit of man, when it produceth unclean actions, is ordinarily called an unclean spirit”.40 The “entrance” of Satan in a man, for example, can be understood as “the wicked Cogitations, and Designes of the Adversaries of Christ, and his Disciples”. Witness Judas (John 13, 27), of whom Hobbes affirms: “By the Entring of Satan (that is the Enemy) into him, is meant, the hostile and traiterous intention of selling his Lord and Master”.41 This metaphorical use of possession is present in Hobbes’s account of Jesus’s treason: “The Priests and Scribes seeking to kill our Saviour at the Passeover, and Judas possessed with a resolution to betray him…”.42 In the same line of argument, Matthew 12: 43–45, which relates a re-possession of an exorcized man, stands, for Hobbes, as “a Parable, alluding to a man, that after a little endeavour to quit his lusts, is vanquished by the strength of them”.43 Let us note that in both examples, temptation and vice do not come from the devil, as in the Christian tradition, but from a Hobbesian natural source of action: human desire.44
Hobbes’s account of divine possession is also metaphorical. He openly related this possession to the idea of “inspiration” and thus to the vexed problem of prophecy. Leviathan contends that there are people who “pretend Divine Inspiration to be a supernaturall entring of the Holy Ghost into a man”.45 In his debate with Bramhall, Hobbes affirms that the Bishop understands the prophet’s inspiration in this way, as if God were “pouring into him the Divine Substance”. He opposes this: “I understand Inspiration in the Scripture Metaphorically, for Gods guidance of our minds to Truth and Piety”.46 Rejecting the notion of forms without matter, Hobbes points out that Ezekiel, for example, was not possessed by God: “And (Ezek. 2, 30) the Spirit entred into me, and set me on my feet, that is, I recovered my vitall strength, not that any Ghost, or incorporeall substance entered into, and possessed his body”.47 When the Scripture relates that a man “is said to speak in the Spirit, or by the Spirit of God”, this does not mean that he is divinely possessed: “Their knowledge of the future, was not by a Ghost within them, but by some supernaturall Dream or Vision”.48 This strategy of metaphorization runs contrary to those who speak of the Holy Spirit as a substance that can be poured inside of men “as into barrels”.49
Hobbes also suggested a naturalization of possession. Besides referring to a disposition or inclination, “spirit” also may stand for an extraordinary bodily passion, even a mental disease: “Mad-men—says Hobbes—are said to be possessed with a spirit”.50 He affirms that in ancient times there were two etiologies for madness: “Some, deriving [it] from the Passions; some, from Daemons, or Spirits, either good, or bad, which they thought might enter into a man, possesse him, and move his organs in such strange, and uncouth manner, as mad-men use to do”.51 Thus Hobbes places the origin of possession beliefs in the Pagan tradition, which serves two purposes: to ground possession in the ignorance of natural causes, and to engulf demonology and radical sectarianism within the depths of ancient religion, alien to true religion (that is, Hobbes’s idea of Christianity). Greeks and Romans mistook extraordinary behaviour as operations of gods and daemones (that is, phantasmata) inside a man. Seeing the convulsions and mental outrage, but having no visible cause for them, they thought of invisible, immaterial, and hence supernatural powers: “And if not naturall, they must needs thinke it supernaturall; and then what can it be, but that either God, or the Divell is in him?”52 Jews and Christians were influenced by this Pagan outlook; Jews “called mad-men Prophets, or (according as they thought the spirits good or bad) Daemoniacks”.53 Certainly, there was a considerable amount of confusion in those times. Incapable of discerning both nature and supernature, and facing Christ’s extraordinary behaviour and words, some of his enemies took him for a madman (Mark 3: 21); others, for a demoniac (Mark 3: 22); others called him both mad and possessed (John 10: 20); but those who were amazed by Jesus’s presence took him not for a demoniac or a madman, but for a prophet (John 10: 21). Bramhall raged against this statement: “He maketh very little difference between a prophet, and a madman, and a demoniac”.54
And indeed, for Hobbes ―save for Christ and the Biblical prophets, who we must accept by faith― there was little difference. Those who understand nature know that divine and demonic possession, if not metaphors, stand for some mental illness. This is evident regarding demoniacs. The Bible speaks of “Mad-men, or Lunatiques and Epileptiques: For they esteemed such as were troubled with such Diseases, Daemoniaques”.55 As it has been frequently mentioned, there is a strong nominalism in Leviathan’s idea of demoniacs: “That there was many Daemoniaques in the Primitive Church, and few Mad-men, and other such singular diseases; whereas in these times we hear of, and see many Mad-men, and few Daemoniaques, proceeds not from the change of Nature, but of Names”.56 This outlook was not new in England: the controversy over Catholic and Puritan exorcisms in the late sixteenth century helped to associate contemporary possessions with natural illness;57 in the following years, Anglican divines such as Robert Burton would connect possession with mental disease;58 in 1641, the erudite Joseph Mede (to whom Hobbes refers explicitly in his controversy with Bramhall) would relate Biblical possession with madness in his exegesis of John 10: 20, a passage concerning an accusation towards Christ: “He has a demon, and he is mad”—“Where I suppose the latter words to be an explication of the former”, says Mede.59
What about divine possession? Already in Elements of Law Hobbes connects inspiration with madness. He recalls in passing the famous case of the Puritan William Hacket, executed in London in 1591: “We have had the example of one that preached in Cheapside from a cart there, instead of a pulpit, that he himself was Christ, which was spiritual pride or madness”. (Interestingly enough, Hacket was also said to be an exorcist and a male witch with the power of possessing people).60 Hobbes will be transparent on the subject in his debate with Bramhall: “The pretence or arrogating to ones self Divine Inspiration, is argument enough to shew a Man is Mad”.61 Furthermore, in Leviathan, Hobbes takes the Pagan belief in divination as grounded on ideas of possession, and claims that Pagan prophecy was no more than “the insignificant Speeches of Mad-men, supposed to be possessed with a divine Spirit; which Possession they called Enthusiasme”.62 The term “enthusiasm” (ἐνθουσιασμός, or ‘God within’) is important here: from the middle of the seventeenth century onwards it would be a term of abuse against those who pretended direct connections with the supernatural.63 Indeed, Hobbes would use it while discussing the problem of prophecy, ancient and modern. The Law of Moses did not teach that prophecy comes from “any such Enthusiasme, or any Possession”; the prophets of the Old Testament did not “pretend Enthusiasme; or, that God spake in them”.64 Hence—and here Hobbes is addressing radical sectarians—, because in present times we cannot discern between natural and supernatural dreams, voices, and visions (and, above all, because miracles have ceased), all the prophecy men need is encoded in the Scriptures. All divine knowledge and precepts are already there, and they can be deduced “without Enthusiasme, or supernaturall Inspiration”.65
Biblical and contemporary instances of possession, then, are only metaphors or natural diseases. They could not be anything else, because spirit possession, Hobbes affirms, is simply impossible. As mentioned above, Hobbes associates the traditional notion of inspiration, an “infusion” of the Holy Spirit, with the idea of possession.66 Moses, who listened to God and had supernatural dreams and visions, did not pretend “to Prophesy by possession of a Spirit”.67 To take Moses as being possessed in this sense would be to think of him as Jesus’s equal. This rejection is an aspect of Hobbes’s idea of the corporeality of God: Christ is the only one in whom “the Godhead [as St. Paul speaketh Col. 2.9.] dwelleth bodily”.68 But the fact that God inhabits Christ is no proof of divine possession either: when Luke 4: 1 says that Jesus went into the wilderness “full of the Holy Ghost”, “this cannot be interpreted for a Possession: For Christ, and the Holy Ghost, are but one and the same substance; which is no possession of one substance, or body, by another”.69
This emphasis on substance is striking, and it suggests Hobbes’s uncompromising materialism. If “incorporeal substance” is an oxymoron, and spirits are bodies, then it is impossible to conceive a substance penetrating other substance: “Can there be a corporeall Spirit in a Body of Flesh and Bone, full already of vitall and animall Spirits?” The Bible does not mention this anywhere: “I have not yet observed any place of Scripture, from whence it can be gathered, that any man was ever possessed with any other Corporeall Spirit, but that of his owne, by which his body is naturally moved”.70 This is why, speaking of possessing demons in the Bible, Hobbes affirms: “I find that there are Spirits Corporeall, (though subtile and Invisible); but not that any mans body was possessed, or inhabited by them”.71
5 Exorcizing the Leviathan
As a consequence of his critique of the Scholastic notion of spirit, Hobbes’s turned spiritual possession into an unthinkable experience. Metaphors and diseases could account for any instance of possession, given that neither philosophy nor Scripture allow us to think of bodies within bodies. These ideas led Hobbes to attack the existence of demoniacs and inspired enthusiasts, and hence, to empty the legitimacy of exorcists and self-appointed prophets. This debate over the possibility of possession is part and parcel of Leviathan’s overall spirit: the rejection of immateriality as an aspect of the traditional notion of the supernatural. In other words, Hobbes suggests the annihilation of any material presence of the supernatural in the kingdoms of men—at least, before the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the electi. Witness Hobbes’s treatment of one of the most debated early modern hierophanies, that of the Eucharist. He laughed at the dogma of transubstantiation, a miracle in which “the Whitenesse, Roundnesse, Magnitude, Quality, Corruptibility, all which are incorporeall, &c. go out of the Wafer, into the Body of our blessed Saviour”. It comes as no surprise that Hobbes turned to the imagery of possession to pour scorn on this pretended manifestation of the supernatural: “Do they not make those Nesses, Tudes, and Ties, to be so many spirits possessing his body? For by Spirits, they mean alwayes things, that being incorporeall, are neverthelesse moveable from one place to another”.72
Ultimately, Hobbes argues that traditional notions about spirits and spiritual possession are alien to the true Christian message.73 This is clear from his opinion of Biblical exorcisms as examples of accommodatio: because he preached in times of ignorance, Jesus commanded “the Madnesse, or Lunacy he cureth” as if they were devils.74 But why did Christ not tell the truth about possession? This, Hobbes affirms, is a matter “more curious than necessary for a Christian mans Salvation”; hence, to debate the possibility or impossibility of spiritual possession is an exercise in futility. The only article of faith is that Jesus is the Christ; “the opinion of Possession by Spirits, or Phantasmes, are no impediment in the way” of Salvation.75 Let us highlight that in Behemoth (1682), Hobbes includes divine possession as part of “the study of the curious”.76
Hobbes, then, emphasized the opposition between true religion and false religion when dealing with the Scholastic definitions of spirit and spiritual possession. This is certainly an important aspect of his critique of ancient philosophy and its historical relations with Christianity. He suggested that the demonology of the Pagans, alive in early modern Churches and sects, had defaced Christ’s true message. In Hobbes’s view, those traditional ideas concerning spirits were ultimately derived from ancient teachings. Christianity has been corrupted by those “half-baked Christians” (semicocti Christiani) who, since the first centuries of the Church, could not accept the simplicity of the Apostles’ message, and so they distorted it with philosophy.77 In De corpore (1655), Hobbes states this explicitly: the Church Fathers and the school divines were mistaken in using Pagan philosophy to interpret the Scriptures. In a striking use of irony, he compares them to the Empusa, Aristophanes’s lame daemon: they walk firmly with one leg (the Bible) but hobble with the other one (philosophy).78
But who knows that this Spirit of Rome, now gone out, and walking by Missions through the dry places of China, Japan, and the Indies, that yeeld him little fruit, may not return, or rather an Assembly of Spirits worse than he, enter, and inhabite this clean swept house, and make the End thereof worse than the Beginning? For it is not the Roman Clergy onely, that pretends the Kingdome of God to be of this World, and thereby to have a Power therein, distinct from that of the Civill State.83
For Hobbes, then, secular theology and exegesis, natural philosophy, and political authority, should liberate the people from the spiritual menace. His debate over spirit and spirit possession is a key to understanding this because its underlying subject is a primal motive for human action and obedience: fear. The Latin version of Leviathan lays bare the reason for Hobbes’s pneumatological obsession: propterea quod magis mettuntur Spiritus quam Homines.84 Fear of invisible possessing devils and apocalyptic Holy Ghosts must be eradicated by the corporeal, visible “mortall God”, the only legitimate source of awe in the Christian Commonwealth.85 This implied a new account on the notion of spirit, the rejection of immateriality, and the denial of any interpenetration between matter and spirit. Indeed, a new set of boundaries between nature and supernature, one in which spirit possession, for example, would be deemed impossible. Hobbes’s true religion and true philosophy would thus enable a civil exorcism capable of casting the pernicious doctrines of spirits and its adherents—that is, scarecrows and half-baked Christians—out of the body politic.
Much of the research for this paper has been done at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven during the winter of 2017; I would like to express my deep gratitude to my host there, Professor Werner Thomas. Parts of this paper were read and discussed at the Iowa State University’s History Department in the fall of 2017; I would like to extend my thanks to the audience, and especially to Professor Michael D. Bailey, for their questions and comments. I would also like to thank Professor Fabián Campagne (University of Buenos Aires) and the anonymous reviewers of Hobbes Studies for their perceptive suggestions.
For Hobbes’s biopolitical understanding of the Commonwealth, see F. Falk, “Hobbes’ Leviathan und die aus dem Blick gefallenen Schnabelmasken,” Leviathan: Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, 39 (2011), 247–266; G. Agamben, Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm, trans. N. Heron (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015), 25–69; Z. Hanafi, The Monster in the Machine: Magic, Medicine, and the Marvelous in the Time of the Scientific Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 136–137.
All quotes in Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 3 vols., ed. N. Malcolm (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2012), II.XXIX, 172. For the metaphors of the soul and the nerves, see Ibid., “The introduction”, 1.
Mk 9: 21–22, Revised Standard Version: “And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has he had this?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us’.”
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.XXIX, 171. See also I.XVIII, 93. For Hobbes’s Erastianism, see J.R. Collins, The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 11–57.
See, for example, Mk 3: 22–24: “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.’ And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand’.”
For the crisis of certainty, see S. Schreiner, Are You Alone Wise? The Search for Certainty in the Early Modern Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); S. Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (New York: Norton & Company, 2011); S. Clark, Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); R. Popkin, The History of Scepticism: From Savonarola to Bayle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); W.J. Bouwsma, The Waning of the Renaissance, 1550–1640 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000); S. Toulmin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990). For the debate over matter and spirit, see A. Funkenstein, Theology and the Scientific Imagination: From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 23–89; R.S. Woolhouse, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz: The Concept of Substance in Seventeenth-Century Metaphysics (London: Routledge, 1993); E. Giancotti, “La naissance du matérialisme moderne chez Hobbes et Spinoza,” Revue Philosophique, 2 (1985), 135–148.
Hobbes, Leviathan, II.XXVIII, 166. For the title, see Job 41:34, and K.I. Parker, “That ‘Dreadful name, Leviathan’: Biblical Resonances in the Title of Hobbes’ Famous Political Work”, Hebraic Political Studies, 2 (2007), 424–447. For Hobbes’s “spiritual” enemies, see M.S. Jendrysik, Explaining the English Revolution: Hobbes and His Contemporaries, (Lanham: Lexington, 2002), 121–150; J. Steinberg, The Obsession of Thomas Hobbes: The English Civil War in Hobbes’s Political Philosophy (New York: Peter Lang, 1988); G. Shulman, “Hobbes, Puritans, and Promethean Politics”, Political Theory, 16 (1988), 426–443.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.XVIII, 93. For an interesting view on Hobbes’s ideas regarding the Sovereign’s control of doctrines, see L. Foisneau, Hobbes: La vie inquiète (Paris: Gallimard, 2016), 48–67.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.II, 7.
Ibid., IV.XLVI, 371–373; I.II, 7; Thomas Hobbes, The Elements of Law: Natural and Politic, ed. F. Tönnies (London: Cambridge University Press, 1928), I.11.4, 42. See L. Nauta, “Hobbes on Religion and the Church between ‘The Elements of Law’ and ‘Leviathan’: A dramatic change of direction?,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 63 (2002), 577–598.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLVI, 373: “…as men fright Birds from the Corn with an empty doublet, a hat, and a crooked stick”.
For an updated bibliography on early modern possession and exorcism, see F. Young, A History of Exorcism in Catholic Christianity (Cambridge: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 244–261; B. Levack, The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 314–335. For divine possession, see N. Caciola and M. Sluhovsky, “Spiritual Physiologies: The Discernment of Spirits in Medieval and Early Modern Europe,” Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural, 1 (2012), 1–48; N. Caciola, Discerning Spirits: Divine and demonic possession in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003); N. Caciola, “Mystics, Demoniacs, and the Physiology of Spirit Possession in Medieval Europe,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42 (2000), 268–306.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLVII, 383. For the Latin quote, IV.XLVII, 324. On exorcism, see, IV.XLV, 356–357; IV.XLVI, 379.
Ibid., I.XII, 59; III.XXXVII, 234.
For the historical tensions between institution and charisma, see M. Frohlich, “Authority”, in A. Hollywood and P. Beckman (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 305–314; J. Potts, A History of Charisma (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); B. McGinn, “‘Evil-sounding, Rash, and Suspect of Heresy’: Tensions between Mysticism and Magisterium in the History of the Church,” The Catholic Historical Review, 90 (2004), 193–212.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.I, 3–4. See C. Leijenhorst, “Sense and Nonsense about Sense: Hobbes and the Aristotelians on Sense Perception and Imagination”, in P. Springborg (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes’s Leviathan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 82–108; C. Leijenhorst, The Mechanisation of Aristotelianism: The Late Aristotelian Setting of Thomas Hobbes’s Natural Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 56–100.
For Hobbes’s idea of the natural seeds of religion, see Leviathan, I.XII, 52–60; on this chapter ―and the way in which Hobbes’s natural philosophy helps to link religion to superstitious fear― see D. Stauffer, “‘On religion’ in Hobbes’s Leviathan”, The Journal of Politics, 72 (2010), 868–879. The notion of the natural seeds of religion is an influence of Epicureanism, for which see P. Springborg, “Hobbes and Epicurean religion”, in G. Paganini and E. Tortarolo (eds.), Der Garten und die Moderne: Epikureische Moral und Politik vom Humanismus bis zur Aufklärung (Stuttgart: Frommann Verlag, 2004), 184–189.
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 207; IV.XLVI, 373.
Ibid., I.XI, 51; IV.XLV, 353. See also Hobbes, Elements of Law, I.11.6, 43: “The Graecians [had] their number of gods, their number of daemons good or bad” as a result of their ignorance of natural causes.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 352.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 207. See the Latin Appendix, III, 361: Cum denique sciret Spiritum omnem utcunque tenuem, esse tamen Corpus. See also Elements of Law, I.11.5, 43.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLVI, 371. See also Thomas Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, late Bishop of Derry; called The Catching of the Leviathan, ed. W. Molesworth, EW iv (Darmstadt: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1966), 383–384.
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 210. St. Paul’s “spiritual bodies” (1 Cor 15: 44) give Biblical background to this idea (IV.XLV, 1016).
Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 306. See also the Latin Appendix, III, 360: Affirmat quidem Deum esse Corpus. Hobbes defends his position referring to Tertullian’s De carne Christi, Athanasius’s opinions in Nicea, Acts 17: 28, and, above all, Col 2:9: “For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily”. For Hobbes’s idea of the corporeality of God, see D. Weber, Hobbes et le Corps de Dieu: ‘Idem esse ens & corpus’ (Paris: Vrin, 2009); C. Leijenhorst, “Hobbes, Heresy, and Corporeal Deity”, in J. Brooke and I. Maclean (eds.), Heterodoxy in Early Modern Science and Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 193–222.
Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 383. Hobbes even accuses those who think of God as incorporeal as atheists “by ignorance of the consequence” of their metaphysical categories (383).
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 208, 210–211, 244.
Ibid., Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 208. Earlier in the sixteenth century, Jean Calvin raged against the “sadducees”—ancient and modern—that stated that Biblical spirits were metaphors. See J. Calvin, Institution de la Religion Chrestienne, trad. Charles Icard (Breme: Herman Brauer de le Jeune, 1713), IV.14.9, 102–110. At the end of the century, Reginald Scot gave an account of spirits as metaphors. See The discoverie of Witchcraft (London, 1584), 509. Concerning Scot, see the recent study by P. Almond, England’s First Demonologist: Reginald Scot and ‘The Discoverie of Witchcraft’ (London: Tauris, 2011).
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXVIII, 244.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 210; IV.XLV, 352–353.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 210–211.
Ibid., IV.XLIV, 333. See J. Champion, "The Kingdom of Darkness: Hobbes and Heterodoxy", in S. Mortimer and J. Robertson (eds.), The Intellectual Consequences of Religious Heterodoxy 1600–1750 (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 95–120.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 207–208. For Hobbes’s views on idolatry, see F. Coleman, “Hobbes’s Iconoclasm,”, Political Research Quarterly, 51 (1998), 987–1010; for the concept of idolatry, J.-P. Rubiés, “Theology, Ethnography, and the Historicization of Idolatry,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 67 (2006), 571–596. For the impact of Hobbes’s understanding of demons, see, among others, A. MacMillan, “Exorcizing Demons: Thomas Hobbes and Balthasar Bekker on Spirits and Religion”, Philosophica, 89 (2014), 13–48; J. Parkin, Taming the Leviathan: The Reception of the Political and Religious Ideas of Thomas Hobbes in England 1640–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 115; J. Bath and J. Newton, “‘Sensible Proof of Spirits’: Ghost Belief during the Late Seventeenth Century,” Folklore, 117 (2006), 1–14; A. Fix, Fallen Angels: Balthasar Bekker, Spirit Belief, and Confessionalism in the Seventeenth Century Dutch Republic (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999), 75; S. Schaffer, “Occultism and Reason in the Seventeenth Century,” in A.J. Holland (ed.), Philosophy: Its History and Historiography (Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing, 1985), 117–143; T. Jobe, “The Devil in Restoration Science: the Glanvill-Webster Witchcraft Debate,” Isis, 72 (1981), 342–356.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLIV, 334. See also III.XXXVIII, 244. See G. Wright, Religion, Politics, and Thomas Hobbes (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006), 230. Hobbes is reasoning here as an heir of the Reformation as a battle against Pagan Christianity, for which see S. Hendrix, “Rerooting the Faith: The Reformation as Re-Christianization,” Church History, 69 (2000), 558–577.
Thomas Hobbes, The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance, ed. W. Molesworth, EW v (Darmstadt: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1966), 210–211; Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 356.
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 210–211, 214.
Hobbes, Elements of Law, I.11.5, 42–43; Thomas Hobbes, Critique du De Mundo de Thomas White, ed. J. Jacquot and H.W. Jones (Paris: Vrin-CNRS, 1973), IV.3, 32. The Latin Appendix highlights the incomprehensibility of revealed spirits: Omnes enim in eo consenserunt incomprehensibilem esse naturam Dei & Trinitas & Angelorum & (ut addit Athanasius) animae rationalis (I, 331). For the impossibility of a science of demons, see I. Bostridge, Witchcraft and its Transformations (c. 1650–c. 1750) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 42, 51.
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 214; IV.XLV, 355–356. In the Latin Appendix, Hobbes says of “incorporeal substance”, “immaterial substance”, and “separated substance”, that voces illa in Scriptura Sacra non sunt (I, 345); the Bible, indeed, shows that substantial spirits are corporeal: Si sunt, probari inde posse dicit Substantias corporeas esse (III, 362).
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 211.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 211; Hobbes, Elements of Law, I.11.4, 42.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.VIII, 38.
Ibid., IV.XLV, 355.
Ibid., IV.XLII, 304.
Ibid., I.VIII, 39.
M.A. Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008), 236.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 361.
Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 327.
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 209.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 229, 209.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 215.
Ibid., III.XXXIV, 208. For the connections between spiritual possession and madness, see A. Ossa-Richardson, The Devil’s Tabernacle: the Pagan Oracles in Ealy Modern Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), 87–135; H.C.E. Midelfort, “Charcot, Freud, and the Demons”, in K.A. Edwards (ed.), Werewolves, Witches, and Wandering Spirits: Traditional Belief and Folklore in Early Modern Europe (Missouri: Truman State University Press, 2002), 199–215; H.C.E. Midelfort, A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); M. MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); H.C.E. Midelfort, “Madness and the Problems of Psychological History in the Sixteenth Century,” The Sixteenth Century Journal, 12 (1981), 5–12.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.VIII, 37.
Ibid., I.VIII, 38.
Ibid., I.VIII, 37.
Ibid., I.VIII, 37; Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 324.
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXIV, 211. See also I.VIII, 38–39, and Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 327.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 356. The nominalistic influence on Hobbes is highlighted by S.J. Finn, Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Natural Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2006), 150–166; see also Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity, 1–47, 350–439.
See, for example, E. Jorden, A brief discourse of a disease called the suffocation of the mother (London: John Windet, 1603). For this late sixteenth century controversy, see M. Gibson, Possession, Puritanism, and Print: Darrell, Harsnett, Shakespeare, and the Elizabethan Exorcism Controversy (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2006); M. MacDonald (ed.), Witchcraft and Hysteria in Elizabethan London. Edward Jorden and the Mary Glover Case (London: Routledge, 1991).
R. Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford: Henry Cripps, 1638): “The last kinde of Madnesse or melancholy, is that demoniacall (if I may so call it) obsession or possession of devils, which Platerus and others would have to be praeternaturall” (I.IV, 11).
J. Mede, “S. John 10.20”, in The Works of That Reverend, Iudicious, and Learned Divine Mr. Ioseph Mede (London: John Clark, 1648), 87. See Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 327. For the influence of Mede’s work in the eighteenth century, see H.C.E. Midelfort, Exorcism and Enlightment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 90.
Hobbes, Elements of Law, I.10.9, 39. For the Hacket case, see A. Walsham, “‘Frantic Hacket’: Prophecy, Sorcery, Insanity, and the Elizabethan Puritan Movement,” The Historical Journal, 41 (1998), 27–66.
Hobbes, An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall, 327.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.XII, 56. Later, speaking about the Pagans, Hobbes adds: “The Prophets of their Oracles, intoxicated with a spirit, or vapor from the cave of the Pythian Oracle at Delphi, were for the time really mad, and spake like mad-men” (Ibid., III.XXXVI, 226).
See, for example, Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, I.IV, 9: “The other species of this fury are Enthusiasmes, Revelations, and Visions, so often mentioned by Gregory and Beda in their workes; Obsession or possession of devils, Sibylline Prophets, and Poetical Furies…”. For the concept of “enthusiasm”, see L. Laborie, Enlightening Enthusiasm: Prophecy and Religious Experience in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015); M. Heyd, ‘Be Sober and Reasonable’: The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries (Leiden: Brill, 1995); F.B. Burnham, “The More-Vaughan controversy: the revolt against philosophical enthusiasm,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 35 (1974), 33–49.
Hobbes, Leviathan, I.VIII, 38. For Hobbes, “possession” and “enthusiasm” are interchangeable terms. See, for example, this passage: “How then could the Jewes fall into this opinion of Possession?” (I.VIII, 38). Hobbes’s own Latin translation reads: Quomodo ergo in opinionem hanc Enthusiasmi incidere potuerunt Iudaei? (I.VIII, 40).
Ibid., III.XXXII, 198. Hobbes’s strategy for rejecting the radical’s prophetic claims is two-fold. On the one hand, he appeals to the discernment of spirits, a theological tool designed to uncover which spirit was at work behind the actions of men (natural, preternatural, supernatural). See, for example, this statement: “To say he [God] hath spoken to him in a Dream, is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him” (III.XXXII, 196). For discernment in Hobbes, see P. González Sidders, “‘Do not believe every spirit!’: Hobbes y el discernimiento de espíritus en el Leviathan,” Ingenium. Revista de historia del pensamiento moderno, 9 (2015), 127–149; A. Martinich, Two Gods of the Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes on Religion and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 225–226; Nauta, “Hobbes on Religion and the Church”, 584. On the other hand, Hobbes appeals to the cessation of miracles: “Seeing therefore Miracles now cease, we have no sign left, whereby to acknowledge the pretended Revelations, or Inspirations of any private man” (Leviathan, III.XXXII, 198). Note that Hobbes also uses this strategy for denying the possibility of contemporary exorcisms. See the Latin version of the Leviathan: Sed fieri potest, dona haec Spiritualia Ecclesiae concessa fuisse tamdiu, nec diuitius, quam Doctrinam Euangelicam non haberent Christiani scriptam. Posteà verò (ut piè credi potest) Scripturam illam pro Lege perpetua haberi voluit Deus, neque amplius miraculis aestimandam (IV.XLV, 309). For cessationism, see J.M. Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993).
Hobbes, Leviathan, III.XXXVI, 228.
Ibid., I.VIII, 38.
Ibid., III.XXXVI, 228. For the corporeality of God, see note 24 above. For Hobbes’s on Moses and Christ, see J. Mitchell, “Luther and Hobbes on the Question: Who was Moses, Who Was Christ?”, The Journal of Politics, 53 (1991), 676–700.
Ibid., IV.XLV, 354.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 354. See the Latin version: Aut potest esse in carne vel osse repleto jam ante Spiritus vitalibus & animalibus, Spiritus alius Corporeus? (IV.XLV, 307). The reference to “flesh and bone” is taken from the words uttered by the resurrected Christ in Lk 24: 39: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have”. See Wright, Religion, Politics, and Thomas Hobbes, 242.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 355.
Ibid., I.VIII, 40. Hobbes says—loosely applying one of his strategies concerning spirit possession—that this absurdity is indeed a sort of madness (I.VIII, 40).
See A. Lupoli, “Hobbes and Religion without Theology”, in A.P. Martinich and K. Hoekstra, The Oxford Handbook of Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 453–480; T. Fuller, “The Idea of Christianity in Hobbes’s Leviathan,” Jewish Political Studies Review, 4 (1994), 139–178.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 354. And then: “No more therefore is it improper, to command Madnesse, or Lunacy (under the appelation of Devils, by which they were then commonly understood) to depart out of a mans body” (IV.XLV, 354). For the doctrine of accommodatio, see S. Benin, The Footprints of God: Divine Accommodation in Jewish and Christian Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993).
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLV, 355. The Latin version just mentions the futility of discussing the ontology of spirits: Ad quem finem disputatio de Spirituum Corporeitate nihil attinebat (IV.XLV, 308). For Hobbes’s insistence on this single article of faith, see, for example, III.XLII, 272; IV.XLV, 355, and M. Krom, The Limits of Reason in Hobbes’s Commonwealth (London: Continuum, 2011), 136–171.
Thomas Hobbes, Behemoth or the Long Parliament, ed. P. Seaward (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2010), 178–179: “These and the like Points are the study of the curious, and the cause of all our late mischief”; for example, “Whether Sanctity comes by Inspiration or Education?”. Cf. Leviathan: “There be, that pretend Divine Inspiration to be a supernatural entering of the Holy Ghost into a man, and not an acquisition of God’s graces by Doctrine and Study” (IV.XLV, 361). For Hobbes’s notion of curiosity, see K. Tabb, “The Fate of Nebuchadnezzar: Curiosity and Human Nature in Hobbes,” Hobbes Studies 27 (2014), 13–34; P. Harrison, “Curiosity, Forbidden Knowledge, and the Reformation of Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England,” Isis, 92 (2001), 265–290.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLVI, 316. Especially, with Aristotelianism. For this critique, see D. Stauffer, “‘Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy’: Hobbes’s Critique of the Classical Tradition,” American Political Science Review, 110 (2016), 487–490.
Thomae Hobbes Malmesburiensis, Elementorum Philosophiae. Sectio prima: De corpore, ed. W. Molesworth, OL I (Darmstadt: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1966), iii–iv. For the Empusa, see J. Affleck, C. Letchford (eds.), Aristophanes: Frogs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 23.
Hobbes, De corpore, iv.
It could be said that this civil exorcism is akin to what D. Stauffer and D. Johnston have seen as Hobbes’s “disenchantment” of the world; see Stauffer, “‘Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy’”, 49; D. Johnston, The Rhetoric of Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Cultural Transformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 134–163.
Hobbes, Leviathan, IV.XLVII, 381.
Ibid., IV.XLVII, 384.
Ibid., IV.XLVII, 387. For Hobbes’s use of this Biblical passage, see n. 43 above. The passages quoted above are certainly a part of Hobbes’s rhetorical strategy, that is, the satirical use of the language of spirit possession and exorcism precisely against the “spiritual enemies” who deploy those beliefs and practices: school divines, Catholics, enthusiasts. The strategy, as Quentin Skinner notes, involves the use of simile, metaphor, “mocking tropes” (irony, sarcasm, aestismus, diasyrmus), and figures of speech (antithesis, epanaphora, tapinosis) as vehicles for satire. See Q. Skinner, Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 395, 403, 413, 415; and see 401 for possession; 408 for demoniacs; 400–401, 404, 413, 423 for supernatural inspiration. I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer of this article for pointing out this reference to me.
Ibid., II.XXIX, 155. The English version is far less straightforward: “Because the fear of Darknesse and Ghosts, is greater than other fears” (II.XXIX, 172).
Ibid., II.XVIII, 87–88; II.XXIX, 171–172. For the hobbesian notion of fear, see, among many others, C. Ginzburg, Paura, Reverenza, Terrore: Cinque saggi di iconografia politica (Milano: Adelphi Edizioni, 2015), 51–80; M. Jakonen, “Thomas Hobbes on fear, mimesis, aisthesis and politics”, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 12 (2011), 157–176; J.H. Blits, “Hobbesian Fear,” Political Theory, 17 (1989), 417–431.