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HOBBES’ POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

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Author(s): MHAI NOVAC

Journal: Challenges of the Knowledge Society
ISSN 2068-7796

Volume: 3;
Issue: -;
Start page: 1144;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: self-interest | behaviorism | sovereignity | contract | commonwealth

ABSTRACT
This is basically an attempt at an original conceptual reconstruction of Hobbes’ philosophy as set in Lehiathan, namely one in the view of which Hobbes was neither an atheist nor an absolutist, as the standard interpretation holds, but rather what we could call an agnostical pragmatist (fact which, quite surprisingly, places Hobbes in the company of Burke). More to the point, my basic claim within this paper is that Hobbes was not such an ‘enemy of individual freedom’ as we traditionally hold him to be and that his thought was just as attached to the notion of individual freedom as the later contractualist views. The difference however, arises from the fact that Hobbes, unlike Locke, Rousseau or Kant, was what we could call a voluntaristic determinist and consequently viewed human freedom not so much as ‘unhindered action derived from reflective choice’, but rather as what we could call ‘reasonable fulfillment of the basic human inclinations’ (self-interest). As such, I will analyze the three main focal points of Hobbes’ thought, namely (i) human nature, (ii) the principle of association and (iii) the principle of authority. More specifically I will try to offer a perspective on the link between his voluntaristic determinism, his notion of legitimate absolute coercion (sovereignity) and his political theology (the view that any form of political authority rests on a religious legitimacy) in trying to demonstrate how all these were Hobbes’ specific way of seeking to find individual freedom a place under the sun.
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