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The Power of Words. Political and Theological Science in Thomas Hobbes

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image of Hobbes Studies

Far from being only an insincere homage to the spirit of his time, Hobbes’s concern for theology is a consequence of his political individualism. Irrespective of God’s real existence, in order to answer the ‘Foole’ and to assure legitimation and obedience to Leviathan, calculating reason is not enough, as individual faith in God and in the binding force of His law of nature is required. In Leviathan II, chapter XXXI, the correspondence between the earthly king, i.e. the mortal god, and the immortal God proves to be the starting point for a new political theology, conceived as a practical science for the needed order of peace in this unique, material world. The divine image of sovereignty, embodied by Almighty God, is the beginning and the end of an immanent, sacred history of salvation that resembles a utopian tale, not in an attempt to oppose or overturn the present political order, but to solve the problems of modern political rationality by means of theological imagination.

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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