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Hobbes and Theology

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Going beyond the belief-unbelief controversy in the scholarly debate about Hobbes’s theological ideas, the essays in this issue look at the philosopher’s theology as a practical science for attaining particular ends, irrespective of his religious feelings. This approach is both to reassert the seriousness of Hobbes’s discourse on theology and to show how deeply political issues are involved in the development of his theological science. From this perspective his theses on heresy turn out to be the necessary corollary of his attempt to de-legitimate clerical control over politics; while in order to answer to the Foole and solve the legitimacy enigma, Almighty God appears to be the divine icon of earthly kings rather than the Lord of a transcendent world. Likewise this issue looks at the correspondence between political theology and materialism by investigating both the new meaning of ‘Potentia Dei’ in Hobbes’s theological thought and the radical outcomes he draws with his criticism of the Cartesian argument of the Deus deceptor. On the whole, all the essays converge in highlighting the strong connection between new ideas on nature and knowledge, theological nonconformity and political science in Hobbes’s thought.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Political Philosophy, Università di Padova, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Giuridiche e Studi Internazionali, via del Santo 28, 35123 Padova, Italy, email:


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