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3. Contract and Sovereignty
About this Lecture
In this module we detail, explore and closely read a number of further excerpts from Leviathan, focusing in particular on: (i) how Hobbes diverged from his contemporaries in his assessment of natural law and the foundations of morality; (ii) the ways in which this impacted his assessment of natural right; (iii) Hobbes’s state of nature and the practical requirements of defending oneself and one’s own interests causing natural law to be swallowed up by natural right; (iv) the idea that it is only through a contract that people can create a sovereign and thereby enter the political state.
In this course, Professor Jeffrey Collins (Queen’s University) explores the political theory of Thomas Hobbes, primarily through his best-known work Leviathan. In the first module, we are introduced to Hobbes’s life and times, and briefly place his thinking into two contexts: those of Humanism and the “New Science”. In the second module we zoom in on the historical context of the English Civil War as we attempt to make sense of Hobbes’s views on human nature and the individual. In the third module, we move on to consider Hobbes’s account of the social contract as the means by which sovereignty is brought into existence, thus creating the political state. Here we look directly at Hobbes’s own words in Leviathan, reading the text closely and picking apart its meanings. In the fourth module, we explore the precise nature of sovereignty, exploring the sorts of powers Hobbes argued the sovereign should have. In the fifth module, we explore the themes of liberty and disorder in Hobbes’s “science of politics", before, in the sixth and final module, considering Hobbes’s influence over later liberal and conservative thinkers.
Jeffrey Collins is Professor of History at Queen’s University, Canada. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1999. He has published numerous articles on early modern religion, politics, and political thought, and is regular book reviewer for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement. His first book, ‘The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes’, was published by Oxford University Press in 2005; his second, ‘In the Shadow of Leviathan: John Locke and the Politics of Conscience’, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. He is currently working on an intellectual history of Charles I’s purported “king’s book,” the Eikon Basilike, published immediately after his execution in 1649.
Cite this Lecture
Collins, J. (2021, November 11). Political Ideas – Thomas Hobbes - Contract and Sovereignty [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/thomas-hobbes/contract-and-sovereignty
Collins, J. "Political Ideas – Thomas Hobbes – Contract and Sovereignty." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Nov 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/thomas-hobbes/contract-and-sovereignty