Hobbes and Republican Liberty

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Quentin Skinner is one of the foremost historians in the world, and in Hobbes and Republican Liberty he offers a dazzling comparison of two rival theories about the nature of human liberty. The first originated in classical antiquity, and lay at the heart of the Roman republican tradition of public life. It flowered in the city-republics of Renaissance Italy, and has been central to much recent discussion of republicanism among contemporary political theorists. Thomas Hobbes was the most formidable enemy of this pattern of thought, and his attempt to discredit it constitutes a truly epochal moment in the history of Anglophone political thought. Professor Skinner shows how Hobbes's successive efforts to grapple with the question of human liberty were deeply affected by the claims put forward by the radical and parliamentarian writers in the course of the English civil wars, and by Hobbes's sense of the urgent need to counter them in the name of peace. Skinner approaches Hobbes's political theory not simply as a general system of ideas but as a polemical intervention in the conflicts of his time, and he shows that Leviathan, the greatest work of political philosophy ever written in English, reflects a substantial change in the character of Hobbes's moral thought, responding very specifically to the political needs of the moment. As Professor Skinner says, seething polemics always underlie the deceptively smooth surface of Hobbes's argument.

Hobbes and Republican Liberty is an extended essay that develops several of the themes announced by Quentin Skinner in his famous inaugural lecture on 'Liberty before Liberalism' of 1998. Cogent, engaged, accessible and indeed exhilarating, thisnew book will appeal to readers of history, politics and philosophy at all levels and provides an excellent introduction to the work of one of the most celebrated thinkers of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" Hobbes and Republican Liberty is rigorously argued, meticulously researched and lucidly written, as we have come to expect from Skinner....Skinner has indeed made a valuable contribution to the study of Hobbes as well as to the study of English political thought during the civil war period; it is one that cannot be ignored." - Geoff Kennedy, University of Ulster
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521886765
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2008
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Quentin Skinner is one of the leading historians in the world and Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations     vi
Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xvii
Notes on the text     xxii
Introductory: Hobbes's humanist beginnings     1
The Elements of Law: liberty described     18
The Elements of Law: liberty circumscribed     56
De cive: liberty defined     82
Leviathan: liberty redefined     124
Liberty and political obligation     178
Conclusion     211
Bibliography     217
Index     237
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