5 Hobbes's Science of Politics and His Theory of Science

Hobbes thought of his theory of politics as a 'science'. At the end of his English Optical Treatise he expressed the hope that 'I shall deserve the reputation of having been ye first to lay the grounds of two sciences; this of Optiques, ye most curious, and yt other of Natural Justice, which I have done in my booke De Cive'. 1 The parallel, or distinction, between natural science and civil science recurs again and again in Hobbes's writings; and the difficulty for Hobbes's commentators lies in deciding what the relationship is between these two different types of science. Most critics have assumed that the two types are closely related, and that we therefore have to understand how Hobbes conducts his physical science in order to be able to understand his science of politics. But a few writers, most notably Tom Sorell in his important recent study of Hobbes's philosophy, have argued in favour of a so-called 'autonomy thesis', according to which Hobbes's political science is independent, qua science, of his science of nature. 2

Among interpretations which argue that Hobbes's two sciences were closely related, we can distinguish two versions of the argument: a strong version and a weak one. The strong version claims that Hobbes envisaged a single, continuous chain of derivation leading from physics, via psychology, to politics: this interpretation makes him a would-be 'social scientist' of a very literal kind, and an intellectual ancestor certainly of Comte, and possibly of Mill. The weak version, on the other hand, claims only that Hobbes applied the method of physical science to the science of politics, so that the political theory resembles or parallels the physics without necessarily being derived from it.

A classic example of the strong version of this argument can be found in Alan Ryan's book, The Philosophy of the Social Sciences:

Hobbes believed as firmly as one could that all behaviour, whether of animate or inanimate matter, was ultimately to be explained in terms of particulate motion: the laws

-146-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Aspects of Hobbes
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 644

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.