Hobbes on Peace and Truth: An Objection to Richard Popkin’s “Hobbes and Scepticism I” and “Hobbes and Scepticism II”

  • Leiser Madanes
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 145)


It is often believed that Hobbes considered that one of the main tasks of the Commonwealth’s sovereign was to determine whether a given proposition or theory was either true or false. This misinterpretation of Hobbes’s thought had been advanced during his lifetime, and although he himself refuted it, this view remains common today.


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  1. 2.
    Thomas Hobbes, English Works,ed., Molesworth (London, 1841); hereafter, EW.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    London; Printed for Francis Tyton, at the three Daggers in Fleet Street (Newberry Library catalogue: case B 245.4187).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    I must beg the pardon of the reader for the continuous repetitions of Hobbes’s words which I thought necessary for the correct comprehension of my argument. In The Creed of Mr. Hobbes Examined,Tenison accuses Hobbes of repeating himself time and again. At one point the student says to the fictitious Hobbes: “If all things twice said, or elsewhere written by you, were picked out; your Great Leviathan would shrink to a little Scallop.”Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    London; Printed by J. Macock for Walter Kettilby (William Andrews Clark Memorial Library catalogue: B’ 1247 E II s).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    John Eachard D. D. (1636–1697) was the author of The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion Enquired into, a witty best-seller published in 1670. In 1672 he wrote Mr Hobbes’s State of Nature Considered; in a dialogue between Philautus and Timothy. To which are added five letters (London; Printed by E. T. and R. H. for Nath. Brooke) (Clark Library catalogue: *B 1232 El1). From the very beginning of the dialogue the author shows both his witty vein and scarce simpathy toward Hobbes’s materialism: “Timothy: Well met Philautus, how does your best self this morning. What, stout and hearty? - Philautus: I take care of myself, Sir, my body is pretty well. I thank you - Tim: Then all is well. I suppose.- Phil.: Yes truly in my opinion, all is well, when that is so.” Despite his sense of humor, Eachard is not much of a philosopher when compared with Tenison. Maybe Swift’s remarks were not extremely unfair: “I have known men happy enough at ridicule, who, upon grave subjects, were perfectly stupid; of which Dr. Eachard of Cambridge, who writ The Contempt of the Clergy, was a great instance”(Works XII, p. 279).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    London, 1965; second edition 1973, pp. 110–111 and 129–131.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

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  • Leiser Madanes

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