The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes

The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes

by Jeffrey R. Collins
     
 

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The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes offers a revisionist interpretation of Thomas Hobbes's evolving response to the English Revolution. It rejects the prevailing understanding of Hobbes as a consistent, if idiosyncratic, royalist, and vindicates the contemporaneous view that the publication of Leviathan marked Hobbes's accommodation with England's revolutionary regime.

Overview

The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes offers a revisionist interpretation of Thomas Hobbes's evolving response to the English Revolution. It rejects the prevailing understanding of Hobbes as a consistent, if idiosyncratic, royalist, and vindicates the contemporaneous view that the publication of Leviathan marked Hobbes's accommodation with England's revolutionary regime. In sustaining these conclusions, Professor Collins foregrounds the religious features of Hobbes's writings, and maintains a contextual focus on the broader religious dynamics of the English Revolution itself. Hobbes and the Revolution are both placed within the tumultuous historical process that saw the emerging English state coercively secure jurisdictional control over national religion and the corporate church. Seen in the light of this history, Thomas Hobbes emerges as a theorist who moved with, rather than against, the revolutionary currents of his age. The strongest claim of the book is that Hobbes was motivated by his deep detestation of clerical power to break with the Stuart cause and to justify the religious policies of England's post-regicidal masters, including Oliver Cromwell.
Methodologically, Professor Collins supplements intellectual or linguistic contextual analysis with original research into Hobbes's biography, the prosopography of his associates, the reception of Hobbes's published works, and the nature of the English Revolution as a religious conflict. This multi-dimensional contextual approach produces, among other fruits: a new understanding of the political implications of Leviathan; an original interpretation of Hobbes's civil war history, Behemoth; a clearer picture of Hobbes's career during the neglected period of the 1650s; and a revisionist interpretation of Hobbes's reaction to the emergence of English republicanism. By presenting Thomas Hobbes as a political actor within a precisely defined political context, Professor Collins has recovered the significance of Hobbes's writings as artefacts of the English Revolution.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stimulating and clearly written."—Johann Sommerville, Journal of Modern History

"A highly stimulating work. It invites fresh approaches not only to Hobbes but to the movements of ideas to which Jeffrey Collins relates him, and in which he repeatedly identifies patterns, and correspondences that cut across expectation. Not for nearly half a century... has there been so challenging an interpretation of the relationship between the political thought and the revolutionary events of seventeenth-century England."—Blair Worden, Times Literary Supplement

"Once in a blue moon a book comes along capable of effecting a Gestalt switch and Jeffrey Collins' The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes is just such a book... the first thorough archival investigation of the Interregnum Hobbes... Collins has put together a very convincing picture of the man who for so long has remained such an enigman to us."—British Journal of the History of Philosophy

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199237647
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
01/10/2008
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey R. Collins is an Assistant Professor of History at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1999 and served, for three years, as a Harper Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago. He has published articles in Historical Journal, History, and Church History.

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