Ideals as Interests in Hobbes's Leviathan: The Power of Mind over Matter

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S. A. Lloyd proposes a radically new interpretation of Hobbes's Leviathan that shows transcendent interests--interests that override the fear of death--to be crucial to both Hobbes's analysis of social disorder and his proposed remedy to it. Most previous commentators in the analytic philosophical tradition have argued that Hobbes thought that credible threats of physical force could be sufficient to deter people from political insurrection. Professor Lloyd convincingly shows that because Hobbes took the transcendence of religious and moral interests seriously, he never believed that mere physical force could ensure social order. Lloyd's interpretation demonstrates the ineliminability of that half of Leviathan devoted to religion, and attributes to Hobbes a much more plausible conception of human nature than the narrow psychological egoism traditionally attributed to Hobbes. Recognizing the religious and moral interests that could drive human beings even to the point of self-sacrifice, Hobbes undertakes to redescribe those transcendent interests that fuel civil strife in order to show his readers that their interests, once properly understood, give them overwhelming reasons to adhere to a principle of political obligation that could, if generally followed, ensure perpetual domestic stability. In the concluding chapter the author argues that Hobbes succeeded in providing a powerful original method for resolving conflict rooted in transcendent interests, a method that may be usefully applied to problems in contemporary political philosophy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...refreshingly original...a brilliant reading of Hobbes, rigorously argued and tightly written. It deserves to revolutionize the study of Hobbes' political theory." International Studies in Philosophy

"For those who want to understand what Hobbes's political theory is, this will be the book to consult." Alan Donagan, California Institute of Technology

"The Hobbes scholarship is admirable, the writing is clear, and the quality of argument is uniformly high. Most importantly, Lloyd presents a genuinely original interpretation of Hobbes and meticulously constructs a very plausible argument in support of that interpretation." Greg Kavka, University of California, Irvine

"A rich and powerful book with an extremely intriguing thesis." Choice

"...this is a brilliant reading of Hobbes, rigorously argued and tightly written. It deserves to revolutionize the study of Hobbes' political theory." International Studies in Philosophy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521522328
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2003
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 1,485,804
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

A note on references
Introduction 1
1 The standard philosophical interpretation 6
2 Hobbes's compositive reconstruction, phase one: identification of the principle of political obligation 48
3 Compositive reconstruction, phase two: religion and the redescription of transcendent interests 99
4 Hobbes's mechanism for the reproduction of social stability 158
5 Hobbes's resolutive analysis, phase two: part 4 of Leviathan 167
6 Theory in practice: Leviathan and Behemoth 189
7 Hobbes's resolutive analysis, phase one: design and detail 234
8 The treatment of transcendent interests 271
9 Hobbes's absolutism 289
Notes 322
Index 384
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