Thomas Hobbes

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Hardwick Hall

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher and scientist, best known for his work on political philosophy. In his Leviathan (1651) he defended a version of the so-called social contract theory, the foundation of most later Western political philosophy. Hobbes influenced the work of, among others, De la CourtDe la Peyrère and Spinoza. See: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hobbes/.

Spinoza and Hobbes were both criticised for their attacks on the biblical doctrine. Samuel Maresius, for example, in his Vindiciae dissertationis unequivocally qualifies Spinoza as a blasphemous and dangerous atheist, who undertakes in his treatise on Descartes to destroy Christianity by applying the principles of both René Descartes (the harbinger of speculative atheism for Maresius) and of Thomas Hobbes. Moreover, Vindiciae dissertationis puts the provocative contents of ‘Theological-Political Treatise’ at a par with generally maligned works like Il Principi (1532) by Niccolò Machiavelli and Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651).

To give another example, in mid-September 1670, warned by new complaints about the persistent sale of Spinoza’s treatise in Utrecht, the Provincial Synod of Utrecht cogently condemned the work for its plain blasphemous theses during its yearly meeting in mid-September 1670. The Synod decided to at least add ‘the extremely godless ‘Tractatus theologico-politicus’ under the charge of heresy to a list of other pernicious books (also including the already proscribed Leviathan by Hobbes) denying the truth of Christian religion (cf.Utrecht, HUA, 1401: ‘Nederlands Hervormde Kerk, ‘Oud Synodaal Archief’, ms. ‘Acta van de vergaderingen van de Synode van Utrecht’, inv. no. 1144, sixth session, art. 4; see also Israel, 1996, p. 9).


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