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Vain Philosophy, the Schools and Civil Philosophy

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Vain philosophy has a central place in Hobbes's civil philosophy, for his account of its development as well as the causes of this 'false philosophy' (as he also calls it) are both important for understanding his views on the nature of philosophy; further, his doctrine of vain philosophy reveals how philosophy is to be situated in the commonwealth in those institutions that have as their role the dissemination of philosophical knowledge, viz. the schools and universities. In this essay I explain what Hobbes means by vain philosophy, and how it differs from true philosophy. After doing this, I analyze its causes, finding pride as the root cause of this false form of philosophy. Finally, I discuss philosophy as concretely taught in the commonwealth through the schools, and in doing so examine the reasons for Hobbes's concern with this vain philosophy as inimical to his civil philosophy.


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