Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Sovereignty as a Vocation in Hobbes's Leviathan

In this book, Matthew Hoye proposes that concerns about the virtues of the natural person bearing the office of the sovereign are essential for understanding Hobbes's political thinking and his critique of existing political systems and commitments.

Matthew Hoye
11 December 2023
Read the full book here (€)
Cover 'Sovereignty as a Vocation in Hobbes's Leviathan'

The philosopher Hobbes used 'Leviathan' as an example to show how power would work in a centralised state. The leviathan was a biblical sea monster who acted forcefully, like how a natural person who would be given the office of sovereign would also have to act. 

This book argues that the fundamental foundation of Hobbes’s political philosophy in Leviathan is wise, generous, loving, sincere, just, and valiant—in sum, magnanimous—statecraft, whereby sovereigns aim to realize natural justice, manifest as eminent and other-regarding virtue. It shows how concerns over the virtues of the natural person bearing the office of the sovereign suffuse Hobbes’s political philosophy, defining both his theory of new foundations and his critiques of law and obligation.

These aspects of Hobbes’s thought are new to Leviathan, as they respond to limitations in his early works in political theory, Elements and De Cive—limitations made apparent by the civil wars and the regicide of Charles I. Though new, the book argues that they tap into ancient political and philosophical ideas, foremostly the variously celebrated, mystified, and maligned figure of the orator founder.

This website uses cookies.  More information.