Thomas Hobbes: Radical in the Service of Reaction

Arnold A. Rogow, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (287p) ISBN 978-0-393-02288-9
While Hobbes is thought of as a champion of possessive individualism, Rogow (James Forrestal; The Dying of the Light notes that the author of Leviathan put the sanctity of life foremost and endorsed social-welfare programs. Yet in many ways, the author admits, Hobbes was a precursor of today's radical right, a thinker who believed that the endsin the case of his philosophy, civic peace and stabilityjustified almost any means. Rogow defends the philosopher against those who claim him as either an early Marxist, a precursor of fascism or a herald of England's emerging capitalist class. Hobbes stressed the dark side of human nature and saw society as a clash of individuals' drives for self-preservation; he was more complex than the ""Hobbesian'' authoritarian many critics consider him to be, the author argues. Rogow's attempt to link Hobbes's life to his thought is stymied by a paucity of personal data, but his portrait succeeds in kindling interest in the pessimistic political thinker who wrongheadedly cast Thucydides as an antidemocrat. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1986
Release date: 05/01/1986
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-393-33599-6
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