For the unruly subject the covenant, for the Christian sovereign the grace of God.

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  • Author(s): Phillips, James
  • Source:
    Philosophy & Social Criticism. Dec2016, Vol. 42 Issue 10, p1082-1104. 23p.
  • Additional Information
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    • Abstract:
      This article proposes that Hobbes runs two different arguments for sovereignty in Leviathan. The one is polemical and takes up the notion of a covenant from early-modern resistance theory in order to redeploy it in the cause of absolutism. The other is biblical and constructs an image of the sovereign whose authority is a Mosaic legacy. The one argument is addressed to the unruly subject and teaches obedience, whereas the other is addressed to the sovereign and sets out the positive vocation of a Christian ruler. The conjunction of secular materialism and divine right in Leviathan becomes less puzzling when the book’s addressees are differentiated. By depriving the subject of any right of appeal to God in protest against the sovereign, Hobbes dismantles one of the bulwarks of early-modern resistance. This motive for secularism has understandably no role to play in Hobbes’ conception of the sovereign. Indeed, as far as facilitating the sovereign’s biblically framed vocation is concerned, the secularism of Leviathan is arguably simply a means to an end. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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