Thomas Hobbes: Conscience and the CommonwealthProfessor Sarah Mortimer
Thomas Hobbes: Conscience and the Commonwealth
For Hobbes, the conscience and opinions of individuals were some of the most dangerous phenomena in the commonwealth; they were among the chief causes of its dissolution and demise. Writing in the midst of wars driven, at least in part, by disagreement over religious and political ideas, Hobbes was acutely aware of the problems posed by intellectual as well as military conflict. In this talk, I will explore Hobbes's response to this situation, showing how he sought to create consensus and neutralise the power of individual conscience. Hobbes's solution was radical and innovative, generating controversy among his contemporaries. And his ideas are still debated, especially by those keen to find in Hobbes' writing the intellectual resources to deal with present day questions of religious liberty and state power.
Professor Sarah Mortimer is Associate Professor of Early Modern History at Oxford and a tutor at Christ Church. She has written articles on Hobbes and Grotius, and her most recent work is Reformation, Resistance, and Reason of State (1517-1625): the Oxford History of Political Thought volume 6 (Oxford, 2021).
This is the third of four talks from the Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury Society
January 28, 2022, 12:00pm BST