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The Two Gods of Hobbes: Rethinking Political (Dis)obligation in the Leviathanís Theological Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  The¬†Two¬†Gods¬†of¬†Hobbes:¬†Rethinking¬†Political¬†(Dis)obligation ¬†in¬†the¬†Leviathan‚Äôs¬†Theological¬†Politics ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Thamy¬†Pogrebinschi ÔÄ™ ‚ÄúLEVIATHAN,¬†(...)¬†that¬†Mortal¬†God¬†to¬†which¬†we¬†owe,¬†under¬†the¬† Immortal¬†God,¬†our¬†peace¬†and¬†defense.‚ÄĚ ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Hobbes¬†(Leviathan,¬†XVII,¬†13). It¬†has¬†become¬†commonplace¬†to¬†assert¬†that¬†Thomas¬†Hobbes¬†is¬†the¬†founder¬†of¬†modern¬† political¬†thought.¬†The¬†arguments¬†which¬†have¬†been¬†presented¬†in¬†order¬†to¬†justify¬†this¬†assertion¬†are¬†numerous¬†and¬†varied.¬†According¬†to¬†some¬†interpreters,¬†Hobbes¬†was¬†responsible¬†for¬†breaking¬†with¬†scholasticism, ¬† with ¬† classical ¬† culture ¬† and ¬† with ¬† the ¬† natural ¬† law ¬† tradition ¬† (Strauss, ¬† 1952 ¬† and¬†Macpherson,¬†1979).¬†According¬†to¬†others,¬†he¬†was¬†the¬†founder¬†of¬†contractualism¬†and¬†therefore¬†the¬†first¬†to¬†base¬†political¬†authority¬†on¬†the¬†consensus¬†of¬†men¬†and¬†no¬†longer¬†in¬†the¬†divine¬†right¬†of¬†kings¬†(Hampton,¬†1986¬†and¬†Kavka,¬†1986).¬†Some¬†declare¬†further¬†that¬†Hobbes¬†is¬†the¬†father¬†of¬†liberalism,¬†of¬†individualism¬†and¬†even¬†of¬†legal¬†positivism¬†(Strauss,¬†1952¬†and¬†Schmitt,¬†1996).¬† Indeed,¬†these¬†different¬†readings¬†that¬†have¬†led¬†the¬†history¬†of¬†thought¬†to¬†place¬†Hobbes¬†at¬†the¬† epicenter¬†of¬†modernity¬†converge¬†in¬†such¬†a¬†way¬†as¬†to¬†form¬†a¬†kind¬†of¬†official¬†interpretation¬†of¬†his¬†theory.¬†This¬†plurality¬†of¬†interpretations¬†of¬†Hobbes¬†comes¬†together¬†in¬†such¬†a¬†way¬†as¬†to¬†form¬†a¬†homogenous ¬† version ¬† in ¬† which ¬† sometimes ¬† are ¬† also ¬† combined ¬† elements ¬† of ¬† materialism,¬†mechanism,¬†and¬†rationalism.¬†¬† This ¬† official ¬† or ¬† standard ¬† interpretation ¬† of ¬† Hobbes ¬† is, ¬† however, ¬† taught ¬† in ¬† schools ¬† and¬† discussed¬†in¬†academia¬†without¬†questioning¬†its¬†assumptions.¬†What¬†if¬†the¬†attributed¬†qualities¬†which¬†place¬†Hobbes¬†at¬†the¬†origins¬†of¬†modern¬†political¬†thought¬†could¬†not¬†in¬†truth¬†be¬†conferred¬†on¬†him?¬† ÔÄ™ I would like to thank the Department of Political Science of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School University, and its chair, Professor David Plotke, for supporting the translation of this paper. 1

Authors: Pogrebinschi, Thamy.
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The Two Gods of Hobbes: Rethinking Political (Dis)obligation
 in the Leviathan’s Theological Politics
            Thamy Pogrebinschi
“LEVIATHAN, (...) that Mortal God to which we owe, under the 
Immortal¬†God,¬†our¬†peace¬†and¬†defense.‚ÄĚ
        Hobbes (Leviathan, XVII, 13).
It has become commonplace to assert that Thomas Hobbes is the founder of modern 
political thought. The arguments which have been presented in order to justify this assertion are 
numerous and varied. According to some interpreters, Hobbes was responsible for breaking with 
scholasticism,   with   classical   culture   and   with   the   natural   law   tradition   (Strauss,   1952   and 
Macpherson, 1979). According to others, he was the founder of contractualism and therefore the 
first to base political authority on the consensus of men and no longer in the divine right of kings 
(Hampton, 1986 and Kavka, 1986). Some declare further that Hobbes is the father of liberalism, 
of individualism and even of legal positivism (Strauss, 1952 and Schmitt, 1996). 
Indeed, these different readings that have led the history of thought to place Hobbes at the 
epicenter of modernity converge in such a way as to form a kind of official interpretation of his 
theory. This plurality of interpretations of Hobbes comes together in such a way as to form a 
homogenous   version   in   which   sometimes   are   also   combined   elements   of   materialism, 
mechanism, and rationalism.  
This   official   or   standard   interpretation   of   Hobbes   is,   however,   taught   in   schools   and 
discussed in academia without questioning its assumptions. What if the attributed qualities which 
place Hobbes at the origins of modern political thought could not in truth be conferred on him? 
ÔÄ™
I would like to thank the Department of Political Science of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of
the New School University, and its chair, Professor David Plotke, for supporting the translation of this paper.
1


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