Human nature and stasis: On the Influence of Thucydides on Hobbes's Science of Politics

Milisavljević, Vladimir Ž. (2017) Human nature and stasis: On the Influence of Thucydides on Hobbes's Science of Politics. Synaxa – Matica Srpska International Journal for Social Sciences, Arts аnd Culture (1). pp. 41-58. ISSN 2619-9998

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The article assesses the influence of Thucydides on Hobbes’ conception of man and, more generally, on his model of “Civil Science”. That influence is traced back to the time when Hobbes worked on his translation of Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War. At that time already, Hobbes described Thucydides as “the most politic historiographer that ever writ”. The main thesis of the article is that Hobbes’ admiration for Thucydides can be best explained by his ability to describe political conflict. This thesis is supported by a comparative analysis of some important themes in Thucydides’ historical narrative and a number of major theoretical statements of Hobbes’ anthropology and political theory. There is a remarkable similarity between Hobbes’ account of the three principal causes of conflict between individuals in the state of nature – competition, diffidence and glory – and the three main instincts of man to which the Athenians appeal to justify their striving for power in a speech that Thucydides relates. However, Thucydides exerted the most powerful influence on Hobbes by his descriptions of internal war. The final part of the article examines two topics from Thucydides’ famous description of the stasis which took place in Corcyra – the impossibility of justice and the perversion of language in time of sedition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: history, justice, nature, polis, politics, science, stasis, war
Institutional centre: Centre for philosophy
Depositing User: Vesna Jovanović
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2019 11:11
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2019 11:11

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