Article ID: CBB058883309

Thomas Hobbes and the Term ‘Right Reason’: Participation to Calculation (2015)


Three times between 1640 and 1651, once at considerable length, Hobbes used and accepted, and then mocked, repudiated and discarded, the ancient/medieval term recta ratio/right reason. These repeated fluctuations in his thinking and rhetorical strategy occurred during the writing of his three major treatises on moral and political theory, one additional note on the term in De Cive, and an unpublished commentary on Thomas White's De Mundo. They are made obvious by his substitution of recta ratio for reason or natural reason when recycling passages from Elements of the Law for use in De Cive, and by his subsequent reversal of that substitution when revising other passages in De Cive for use in Leviathan. Despite incorporating recta ratio as a structural element in De Cive, he finally reverted in Leviathan to regarding the term as a deceptive verbal construct, non-existent in rerum natura, and ridiculing its users and proponents. Right reason carried connotations linked to it in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, and Hobbes's reversals in his view and use of it, and his final dismissal of it, provide further evidence and justification for the now familiar modern claim that he was a herald of modernity.

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Authors & Contributors
Katz, Claudio
Mayer, Robert
Steward, M. A.
Haakonssen, Knud
Milton, J. R.
Nuovo, Victor
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
European Legacy
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Journal of Classical Sociology
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Marquette University Press
University of Southern California
Loyola University of Chicago
Oxford University Press
Columbia University Press
Moral philosophy
Philosophy and politics
Philosophy and religion
Natural philosophy
Hobbes, Thomas
Locke, John
Cumberland, Richard
Gassendi, Pierre
Sergeant, John
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century, early
16th century
Great Britain
Cairo (Egypt)

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