The Starting Point of Hobbes's Science of Politics

Luka Ribarević
2008 Anali Hrvatskog Politološkog Društva  
As a logical starting point structuring the entire theoretical field of political analysis, Hobbes's definition of the state of nature is a key for understanding his science of politics. The paper shows that the concept of the state of nature implies two fundamentally distinct types of states in which neither people nor troubles with which they are faced are identical. In the original state of nature conflicts among people stem directly from their nature. Based on the analysis of Hobbes's
more » ... s of Hobbes's understanding of human nature and critical reading of his interpretation of the state of nature by Jean Hampton, the paper identifies the mechanism by which reason and passion turn the state of nature into a state of war. However, alongside the original state of nature, a historical state of nature also coexists, in which conflicts spring from religious views and political beliefs immanent to people as religious and political beings, and as beings of language and conscience. What is crucial for conflicts in this historical state of nature is the influence exerted by language as a discursive context on human action. As the state of war feeds from both human nature and history, any attempt of overcoming the state of nature must abandon them: the state is necessarily an artificial and ahistorical project, based on science of politics as a new political language appropriate for human self-preservation.
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