Thomas Hobbes and Fear: The Political Use of a Human Emotion

  • Sergio Starkstein


Hobbes’s Leviathan is among the first philosophical texts to provide a systematic argument concerning the crucial role of fear in shaping social institutions, and to examine how this emotion may be manipulated for social control. Hobbes’s political ‘remedy’ for social chaos is the establishment of a powerful sovereign capable of enforcing a strong political system by using the fear of social punishment. It is argued that Hobbes’s political construction does not help to reduce human fears, since it basically consists in a strong state allegedly able to reduce anxiety to ‘tolerable’ levels, but in which the ‘horizon of expectations’ is stabilised by fear.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaFremantleAustralia

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