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Rousseau and HobbesNature, Free Will, and the Passions$
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Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724964

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724964.001.0001

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The French Reception of Thomas Hobbes

The French Reception of Thomas Hobbes

(p.21) 1 The French Reception of Thomas Hobbes
Rousseau and Hobbes

Robin Douglass

Oxford University Press

This chapter sets out the intellectual context for Rousseau’s engagement with Hobbes by surveying Hobbes’s French reception during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The chapter first examines how Pierre Nicole and Pierre Bayle drew on Hobbes’s political ideas in their own theories, before assessing the metaphysical and theological elements of Nicholas Malebranche’s critique of Hobbes. It then turns to the natural law context and shows how Jean Barbeyrac and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui helped to establish a somewhat artificial opposition between Hobbesian Epicureanism and Pufendorfian sociability. The final sections consider how Hobbes’s ideas were attacked by Montesquieu, Denis Diderot, and contributors to the Encyclopédie. The chapter reveals that attacks on Hobbes increased as the eighteenth century progressed, even though many of his ideas appear to have diffused into the thought of the time.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, natural law, Pierre Bayle, Montesquieu, Denis Diderot, Pierre Nicole, Nicholas Malebranche, Samuel Pufendorf, Jean Barbeyrac, Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui

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