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Modernity and Its DiscontentsMaking and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellow$
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Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198393

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198393.001.0001

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Was Hobbes a Christian?

Was Hobbes a Christian?

Chapter:
(p.67) Chapter 4 Was Hobbes a Christian?
Source:
Modernity and Its Discontents
Author(s):

Steven B. Smith

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300198393.003.0004

Secularization is a key feature of modernity. The modern national state was made possible only once theological politics—the whole domain of “priestcraft”—was put firmly under sovereign control. Few would deny that Thomas Hobbes was the first to develop the modern theory of the state with full vigor and clarity. Hobbes attacked the power of the clergy and the priesthood, but did he attack religion? Was he an atheist who attempted to view human nature under the categories of reason and self-interest, or did he remain a Christian despite himself? This chapter examines Hobbes’s greatest book, Leviathan, in order to answer this question. Hobbes, it argues, was not an atheist, but his work hollowed out religion, making it a matter of private belief and even allowing room for toleration of religious diversity. He created the premises of liberal modernity.

Keywords:   Hobbes, Thomas, Kingdom of Darkness, Lucretius, Priestcraft, Prophecy, Schmitt, Carl, Secularism, Sovereignty, Strauss, Leo

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