The Elements of Representation in Hobbes

Aesthetics, Theatre, Law, and Theology in the Construction of Hobbes's Theory of the State


Commentators have traditionally constructed Hobbes's thinking on representation too narrowly, as a self-contained area of his political theory. This book challenges this orthodoxy of Hobbes scholarship, which owes less to Hobbes’s thought than to contemporary preconceptions of what counts as political thinking. In her powerful and original analysis, Mónica Brito Vieira mines neglected strands of Hobbes's theory of representation, and reinstates it in a much wider pattern of Hobbes’s theorizing about human thought and action in relation to widely varied images, roles and fictions. The result is a compelling portrait of how man's natural power to form representations through the imagination and artifice underpins his capacity to break away from nature, and fashion a world that best suits his needs.
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Biographical Note

Mónica Brito Vieira, Ph.D. (2005) in History of Political Thought, University of Cambridge, is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and a Visiting Scholar at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge. She specializes in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, and is the co-author (with David Runciman) of Representation (Polity, 2008).

Review Quote

"Le livre de Monica Brito Vieira représente une contribution importante à la discussion contemporaine sur la conception hobbesienne de la notion de représentation. [...] Brito Vieira démontre de manière convaincante que la conception hobbesienne de la représentation ne peut se réduire à l’interprétation de son aspect juridique." Luka Ribarevic, Archives de Philosophie (2012) Vol. 75, No. 2, pp. 365-367. Knjiga Mónice Brito Vieire jedan je od najvažnijih doprinosa suvremenoj raspravi o Hobbesovoj znanosti o politici. Luka Ribarević, Politicka misao 47:1 (2010) 245-251.

Table of contents

Introductory Note List of Figures Acknowledgements Abbreviations and Editions Introduction 1. Aesthetic Representation Introduction Resemblance vs. Representation Representations or Perceptual Images Images of God The Sovereign as Image Images of Saints The Eucharist: Presence or Representation? Metaphors as Representations The Representation of Objects in Perspective Conclusion 2. Dramatic Representation Introduction: Hobbes and the Theatre The Man and the Person The World as Stage Dis/simulating with Others Actors and Hypocrites Religious Play-Acting and the Power of Crowds ‘Quixotic’ Personalities and Republican Men Theatre of Politics The Powers of Theatre The Politics of Theatre Conclusion 3. Juridical Representation Introduction The Elemental View Representation by Fiction The State as Person Representing the Covenant into Being The Representativeness of the Sovereign Parliament as Representation The Dangers of Subordinate Representation The State’s Many Guises Conclusion 4. Representation in Theology Introduction Three Persons as Three Representatives Three Persons as Three Roles Revisions in Response to Critics The Trinity as Political Analogy Conclusion Bibliography Index


All those interested in intellectual history, the history of political philosophy, legal and political theory.