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Hobbes and Republican Liberty Hardcover – March 10, 2008

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521886765 ISBN-10: 0521886767

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Editorial Reviews

Review

" Hobbes and Republican Liberty is rigorously argued, meticulously researched and lucidly written, as we have come to expect from Skinner....Skinner has indeed made a valuable contribution to the study of Hobbes as well as to the study of English political thought during the civil war period; it is one that cannot be ignored." - Geoff Kennedy, University of Ulster

Book Description

Quentin Skinner is one of the foremost historians in the world, and in Hobbes and Republican Liberty he offers a dazzling comparison of two rival theories about the nature of human liberty. This new book complements Professor Skinner's Liberty before Liberalism, and is a work of similar breadth and power.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521886767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521886765
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,314,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting extended essay on the development of Hobbes' concept of liberty. The author is the very distinguished intellectual historian Quentin Skinner. This is a nice example of Skinner's contextualism; the study of an idea via a close reading of its text and the surrounding contemporary literature, plus an informed view of contemporary events. Skinner discusses the concept of liberty in Leviathan and in some of Hobbes' earlier works, showing how Hobbes' conception of liberty changed significantly, at least partly in response to the polemics of other writers (most now largely forgotten) and also in response to major events.
Hobbes point of departure was his effort to construct a systematic philosophy based on an atomistic, mechanical view of the universe. His conception of human psychology was highly individualistic, rather bleak, and social bonds were required to protect us from each other. Skinner follows Hobbes' definitions of liberty as based on this mechanical view, eventually freedom from external constraints on movement and not much else. Skinner discusses Hobbes response to Republican theorists and others involved in the controversy about the extent of Royal authority in the events leading to the Civil War. Some of Hobbes' thought appears to have been inspired by minor writers of the time.

Skinner does a nice job of how Hobbes develops a sophisticated analysis of liberty in Leviathan and how Hobbes' arguments are related to contemporary controversies and the events of the Civil War. In particular, Skinner shows how Hobbes attempted to reduce the sting of his rather authoritarian approach, even when he was attacking Republican theorists for their rather naive (to him, at any rate) views of the power of the state and sovereignty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Terrence McGarty on November 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hobbes seems to come in and out of favor. In many ways he is seen as a sycophant to the King in his writings. Skinner uses the comparison of liberty as view in the classic republican sense to that as developed by Hobbes. For Skinner the classic republican liberty is that of the free man, as compared to the slave, one whose actions are limited by a free man. Skinner then takes this concept and draws the line to and through the development of English law.

Skinner develops the liberty theme in Chapter 1 and on pp 34-35 he details some of the strengths and weaknesses of Hobbes and his approach. In reading Skinner one sees more clearly the jumps to faith used by Hobbes, the definitions without any basis in demonstrable fact of evidence that Hobbes uses in his constructions. This is in sharp contrast to Locke who is soon to follow. Specifically on p 35 the discussion of the equality of natural liberty to natural right is worth the reading. Skinner does the concepts justice.

On p 48 Skinner makes some telling comments. For example he states: "Politics, we are being reminded, is pre-eminently the arena in which fortune holds sway" He then continues with the statement: "Hobbes is one of the earliest English philosophers to write in a similar way (as to Aristotle) of "politics" as the art of governing cities."

Chapter 3 details the concept of liberty in the act of living in a real city. On p 79 Skinner states a telling statement: "For Hobbes, accordingly, the puzzle remains; what can it possibly mean when someone claims to be a free man while living under a monarch, in which the fullest rights of sovereignty will inevitably be held by the king himself." This is the quandary of Hobbes.
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By Jeffrey Barnouw on September 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
good work
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Hobbes and Republican Liberty
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