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Reflections on Hobbes, Nature and Artifice

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In his own time Hobbes became a public intellectual even if at times a banned author. Political theorists of today will in some cases recognise similar pressures and dilemmas. As a classic author, however, Hobbes has become a trope in political theory through an overt process of anachronism. The authors in this special issue – Browning, Jaede, Boyd, Prozorov – proceed from this common and canonical content, as does Prokhovnik in her Introduction. The scholarly template, presumed in this discussion, focuses on the first two books of Leviathan, and on the life-and-death dilemmas posed there in relation to political power and obligation. The four articles thoroughly explore the concepts of nature and artifice within that reading strategy. The conclusion of this critical review of their work is that within broader commentary in political theory nature and artifice are themselves tropes, and that the natural life of humans is inherently artificial.

Affiliations: 1: School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol, UK,


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