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An Early European Critic of Hobbes’s De Corpore

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The Animadversiones in Elementorum Philosophiae by a little known Flemish scholar G. Moranus, published in Brussels in 1655 was an early European response to Hobbes’s De Corpore. Although it is has been referred to by various Hobbes scholars, such as Noel Malcolm, Doug Jesseph, and Alexander Bird it has been little studied. Previous scholarship has tended to focus on the mathematical criticisms of André Tacquet which Moranus included in the form of a letter in his volume. Moranus’s philosophical objections to Hobbes’s natural philosophy offer a fascinating picture of the critical reception of Hobbes’s work by a religious writer trained in the late Scholastic tradition. Moranus’s opening criticism clearly shows that he is unhappy with Hobbes’s exclusion of the divine and the immaterial from natural philosophy. He asks what authority Hobbes has for breaking with the common understanding of philosophy, as defined by Cicero ‘the knowledge of things human and divine’. He also offers natural philosophical and theological criticisms of Hobbes for overlooking the generation of things involved in the Creation. He also attacks the natural philosophical underpinning of Hobbes’s civil philosophy. In this paper I look at a number of philosophical topics which Moranus criticised in Hobbes’s work, including his mechanical psychology, his theory of imaginary space, his use of the concept of accidents, his blurring of the distinction between the human being and the animal, and his theories of motion. Moranus’s criticisms, which are a mixture of philosophical and theological objections, gives us some clear indications of what made Hobbes’ natural philosophy controversial amongst his contemporaries, and sheds new light on the early continental reception of Hobbes’s work.

Affiliations: 1: Department of English and Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX. UK, s.clucas@bbk.ac.uk

10.1163/18750257-03001002
/content/journals/10.1163/18750257-03001002
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/content/journals/10.1163/18750257-03001002
2017-03-13
2018-10-19

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