Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Thomas Hobbes on Governance - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 214
Governance/Leviathan/Hobbes/Höffe: [Leviathan's title copperplate] is an image of the state or sovereign being the representative of all citizens: The citizens authorize the sovereign to act on their behalf. According to the Anglican state church, the crowned ruler carries both the symbol of worldly power, the sword, and the crosier, which identifies the ruler as also responsible for religious doctrines. The king is not supposed to decide on religious truth itself, but on its publicly binding interpretation. Hobbes does not consider the alternative, an ideological neutrality of the state. >State/Hobbes, >Social Contract/Hobbes, >Peace/Hobbes, >War/Hobbes.
Höffe I 220
Because "contracts without the sword are mere words and have no power to offer a person even the slightest security" (Leviathan, chap. 1 7), the deadly >natural state is only overcome by a community whose public powers are forcibly defended.
Contract: To justify this, Hobbes introduces an intermediate argument, the authorized "deputy". Because one has to assign all rights to him, his social contract becomes a contract of submission.
Ruler: Even deprived of all rights (legibus solutus), the sovereign possesses absolute power in the literal sense. Because of this omnipotence Hobbes calls him a god,
Höffe I 221
but only "mortal" God because of his transitoriness. He claims that the enlightened self-interest, the >reason in the sense of wisdom of life, requires to establish it.
Höffe I 225
Governance/church/state: [According to] the theologian and cardinal Bellarmin (1542-1621) the Pope has priority, the primacy, in relation to the worldly power. That is to say he has the right to excommunicate princes and relieve subjects of their duties of obedience to the prince.
HobbesVsBellarmin: Hobbes vehemently denies this right. He sticks to a primacy thesis, which he advocates for the secular ruler. In contrast to the idea of a relative and differentiated autonomy, because it is concentrated on the respective area of responsibility, he pleads for an undifferentiated autonomy, which now belongs to the political side and is combined with a subordination, even subjugation of the spiritual side.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Hobbes I
Thomas Hobbes
Leviathan: With selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668 Cambridge 1994

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-07-30
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