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Hobbes' Dialogue of the Common Laws and the difference between "natural" and "civil philosophy"

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This article explains the apparent tension between Hobbes' late work A Dialogue between A Philosopher and A Student of the Common Laws of England and his avowed goal of a deductive philosophy which eschews rhetoric and history, by analysing the difference between Hobbes' civil and natural philosophy. A Dialogue's simultaneous use of deduction, rhetoric, and historical citation is congruent with the method applied by Hobbes in Leviathan in order to construct his "civil philosophy". This highlights Hobbes' awareness increasing with the years of the difference between the teachings of "natural philosophy" which are understood by demonstration, and once this is done are evident per se, and those of politics and jurisprudence which in order to make the people obey the sovereign maintaining peace and security, may require employing the language of persuasion before and after being demonstrated. However, I have argued that the awareness of this difference does not undermine the general unity of his philosophical system and in particular of his notion of science.

10.1163/187502599X00022
/content/journals/10.1163/187502599x00022
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/content/journals/10.1163/187502599x00022
1999-01-01
2016-12-06

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