Thursday, January 26, 2017

their God-given gift...................

Early in the twentieth century, an American philosopher, John Dewey, wrote that in Hobbes's day politics was by common consent "a branch of theology," and that "Hobbes's great work was in freeing, once and for all, morals and politics from subservience to divinity."
     We should add two qualifications to Dewey's encomium.  First, it was not Hobbes's goal to provide a purely secular understanding of politics.  Although he believed that theologians and clerics were often a bad influence on statecraft, there was no reason to suppose that he wanted to elbow God himself out of the picture.  Hobbes's account of government does not deny the divine right of kings to rule; it just does not rest on it.  For him, political authority is legitimate when there is a tacit or explicit pact between citizens, which their God-given gift of rationality leads them to make.

-Anthony Gottlieb,  The Dream Of Enlightenment:  The Rise Of Modern Philosophy

We would do well to remember that context matters and that "Hobbes lived through England's civil wars, and several wars of religion on the Continent....And Hobbes was not the only thinker to be so badly shaken by sectarian conflict that peace came to seem the paramount goal of government, to be secured at almost any cost."

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