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Featured publication

'Hobbes on the supernatural from The Elements of Law to Leviathan' by Takuya Okada, published in History of European Ideas (online first, 16 July 2019).

Takuya Okada

Hobbes's unusual religious views in his classical work, Leviathan, are often seen as a product of his attempt to reconcile Christianity with his philosophical materialism. Yet given Hobbes's materialistic view in his earlier works too, this explanatory framework alone is not sufficient for grasping distinctive features of Leviathan. This article remedies this lacuna by paying close attention to an understudied aspect of the development of Hobbes's religious theory from The Elements of Law to Leviathan: his treatment of the supernatural and, particularly, of matters of faith known by supernatural revelation as opposed to natural reason. I argue that over time Hobbes developed an epistemological analysis of supernatural revelation and refined his argument about the sense in which matters of faith are supernatural and about the extent to which they are found in the Bible. It was not materialism per se but the more sophisticated analysis of the supernatural in Leviathan that enabled Hobbes to admit the sphere of the supernatural to a much smaller extent than in De Cive and to discuss in detail what he sees as a matter of faith and beyond the scope of philosophy in De Cive.

Authored by Takuya Okada (2014-15 Oxford-Uehiro-St Cross Visiting Student Scholar).

Much of the work on this paper was undertaken during Mr Okada's visit to the Oxford Uehiro Centre.

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