Monday, October 11, 2010

Thomas Hobbes' views on political theory and the place of reason are theological and hence best understood theologically


"...[Thomas] Hobbes was a sincere, and relatively orthodox, Christian. [...] he believe that God exists and that religion is an important part of human life; he believed that God in some mysterious way has made revelations to various people, believed that Jesus was both God and the Messiah, and believed that there would be a heaven and hell at the end of this world. [...] he certainly had a strong commitment to the Calvinist Christianity of Jacobean England. [...] theological concepts, especially those of English Calvinism, are an inextricable part of his philosophy, especially his moral and political views. Thus, the correct understanding of Hobbes's philosophy must include an explanation of the role of characteristically Christian concepts."
(A. P. Martinich, The Two Gods of Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes on Religion and Politics [UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992; paperback edition 2002], 1-2)

""Religion," Hobbes says, "can never be abolished out of human nature." By this he means that no matter how brightly the light of reason shines, there will always be a boundary to reason's luminescence--and a beyond that can neither be abolished nor ignored without peril. Following Hobbes [...], religion is the account of this beyond which reason cannot illuminate, and is only religion when this boundary has been reached."
(Joshua Mitchell, Not By Reason Alone: Religion, History, and Identity of Early Modern Political Thought [USA: University of Chicago, 1996], 125. Italics original.)

"...where God himself by supernatural revelation planted religion, there he also made to himself a peculiar kingdom, and gave laws, not only of behaviour towards himself, but also towards one another; and thereby in the kingdom of God, the policy and laws civil are a part of religion; and therefore the distinction of temporal and spiritual domination hath there no place. [...] God is king of all the earth by His power, but of His chosen people, He is king by covenant. [...] From the propagation of religion, it is not hard to understand the causes of the resolution of the same into its first seeds or principles; which are only an opinion of a deity, and powers invisible and supernatural; that can never be so abolished out of human nature..."
(Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan [USA: Forgotten Books, 2008], 80. Emphasis added.)

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