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Fugitive DemocracyAnd Other Essays$
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Sheldon S. Wolin and Nicholas Xenos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691133645

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691133645.001.0001

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Hobbes and the Culture of Despotism

Hobbes and the Culture of Despotism

(p.149) Chapter 7 Hobbes and the Culture of Despotism
Fugitive Democracy

Sheldon S. Wolin

, Nicholas Xenos
Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that Hobbes's was the first modern philosopher in whom a despotic mentality was at work. He perpetuated Bacon's political reading of science, and he fully appreciated the political structure implicit in Bacon's conception of scientific knowledge. Bacon's credo “knowledge is power” was transcribed to read “knowledge is for the sake of power” (scientia propter potentiam). Hobbes's despotic mentality is revealed in the several departments of his theory, not just in his political writings: in his thinking about human nature, physical nature, knowledge, scientific inquiry, and thinking itself. He fashioned images of man and mind as subjects fit for despotic rule: the one for the rule or rules of a sovereign lawgiver, the other for the rules of method decreed by a sovereign science.

Keywords:   political theory, Thomas Hobbes, despot, Francis Bacon, despotic mentality

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