Logos against Leviathan: The Hobbesian Origins of Modern Antipolitics

  • Gershon Weiler


The manifest enmity of Thomas Hobbes to Aristotle is among the very first impressions the reader gets on reading Leviathan.1 Aristotle is mentioned over and over again and to him are attributed, by proxy as it were, not only the things he actually said but also all that Hobbes objected to and detested about scholasticism and about those false and harmful political doctrines which, as he argued, it engendered. In contrast Plato is mentioned only few times and without any substantial reference to the contents of his philosophy. This is all the more surprising as Hobbes, in one of the few passing mentions of Plato, refers to him as ‘the best philosopher of the Greeks’.2 That the scarcity of references to Plato masks a deep affinity and indebtedness to Plato has not gone unnoticed. Leo Strauss, in his classic book on Hobbes,3 devotes much space to an exposition of Hobbes’s Platonism. According to Strauss, what Hobbes learnt from Plato was that political science ought to be an exact science.4


Political Philosophy Practical Wisdom Political Knowledge Universal Knowledge Political Virtue 
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  1. 1.
    Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. R. Tuck (Cambridge, 1991).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    L. Strauss, The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis, trans. E. M. Sinclair (Chicago and London, 1963).Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    St Thomas Aquinas, On the Governance of the Rulers (De Regimine Principum), trans. G. B. Phelan (Toronto, 1935), p. 15.Google Scholar
  4. 21.
    See Ch. Hill, The Century of Revolution 1603–1714 (Wokingham, 1961), pp. 149 ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 29.
    C. Schmitt, Der Leviathan in der Staatslehre des Thomas Hobbes: Sinn and Fehlschlag eines politischen Symbols (Hamburg, 1938).Google Scholar
  6. 47.
    J. N. Figgis, The Divine Right of Kings (New York, 1965; originally published in 1896), pp. 265–6.Google Scholar
  7. 49.
    H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, 1958), p. 207 ff.Google Scholar
  8. 50.
    See J. L. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (London, 1966).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Gershon Weiler

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