The Interpretation of Covenants in Leviathan
Theist interpreters of Hobbes, that is, those who think that Hobbes was a theist, and nontheist interpreters, that is, those who think he was not, agree that the most conspicuous difference between Leviathan and his other two treatises on political theory is the extensive treatment of religion. While it may appear that they agree about little else, that is not true. They agree about an infinite number of things, to use ‘infinite’ as Hobbes does. They agree that Hobbes was born in 1588 and attended Magdalen Hall, that he wrote Leviathan and many other works, that he was a materialist and determinist, and that he engaged in disputes with John Bramhall and John Wallis, among others. This chapter presents a theist interpretation of Hobbes's treatment of divine covenants. Sections I and II discuss the nature of interpretation because the chances of agreement or disinterested evaluation of the competing views will be increased if the nature and standards of interpretation are made explicit. Sections III–V criticizes Edwin Curley's nontheist interpretation of Hobbes's doctrine of covenants.
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