Leviathan drawn out by its tail
Leviathan drawn out by its tail: The religious ideas of the second half of Leviathan Jonathan Harmon In this dissertation, I examine the religious writings of Thomas Hobbes, primarily as they occur in the second half of Leviathan (but drawing from other sources as necessary). My aim is to illustrate the continuity between Hobbes' thoughts on religion and other areas of his philosophy, especially his political theory. Hobbes' distinctive philosophical position, filtered through the lens of the Bible, is what animates the theology of the second half of Leviathan. In short: Hobbes is a materialist, a determinist, an empiricist, a nominalist, a political absolutist, and a social and intellectual elitist. He came of age in a Anglican-Calvinist context and had a humanist education. He was born on the cusp of the scientific revolution, and considered himself a scientist and a mathematician. All of these influences affect the views presented in Leviathan. Hobbes approaches the Christianity of his era hypercritically, with an eye to excising foreign and irrational influences (Greek, Scholastic philosophy, pagan religion, Catholic hierarchy) and replacing them with (ostensibly) Biblically-grounded and philosophically-robust doctrines. In effect, Hobbes is attempting to rationally reconstruct Christianity on the basis of Scripture and his own philosophical system, and his overriding concern is with political stability and the absolute authority of the sovereign. In Chapter 1, I focus on the first half of Leviathan. My discussion explores issues and controversies in the natural theology of Hobbes. Chapter 2 draws some parallels between Hobbes' determinist physics and the doctrine of predestination most often associated with Jean Calvin. Chapter 3 begins the analysis of the second half of Leviathan. I consider Hobbes' position on the relationship between reason and revelation. I consider the sources of religious belief from a Hobbesian perspective - miracles, prophecy, and scripture. Hobbes subjects all of these to rigorous epistemological critiques. In Chapter 4, I examine Hobbes' unique account of eschatology, and the purposes to which he puts it. Hobbes' account of heaven and hell, the soul and salvation, are startling to the modern reader, but actually are a idiosyncratic blend of the radical ideas of some of Hobbes' contemporaries and his own philosophical commitments. I consider some of the potential sources for these innovations in his theory, whether direct or indirect. Hobbes embraces a vision of the relationship between Church and State that emphasizes their unity and absolute subordination to the sovereign. In Chapter 5, I analyze this extended argument, highlighting Hobbes' encyclopedic attempt to demolish any argument that splits authority into temporal and spiritual realms. In Chapter 6 I consider the double question of Hobbes' religious sincerity: both as an individual and as the author of Leviathan. I consider the thoughts of the Straussian school as they apply to Hobbes. I return to the thoughts of Hobbes' contemporaries and what they believed that Hobbes was saying about religion. I compare Hobbes to Machiavelli on a major point of overlap.