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Hobbes on Politics and Religion$
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Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803409.001.0001

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Hobbes on the Motives of Martyrs

Hobbes on the Motives of Martyrs

Chapter:
(p.79) 5 Hobbes on the Motives of Martyrs
Source:
Hobbes on Politics and Religion
Author(s):

Alexandra Chadwick

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198803409.003.0006

Hobbes acknowledges the threat to civil order posed by those who are prepared to sacrifice their bodily life for the sake of life eternal. Accordingly, his arguments aimed to restrict the circumstances in which it is necessary for Christians to choose martyrdom over obedience to a sovereign’s commands. Yet Hobbes’s consideration of the motives of would-be martyrs has often been thought to be in tension with his mechanistic-materialist psychology, in which all motivation is tied to the preservation of the body’s ‘vital motion’. This chapter shows that Hobbes’s psychology is able to account for the motives of martyrs. Reading Hobbes’s materialist model of motivation in the context of the Christian-Aristotelian account it was intended to replace, it argues that Hobbes’s psychology furthers his attempt to neutralize the danger religious motives pose to political order. For Hobbes, martyrs are not only mistaken about Scripture, but about their nature as human beings.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, martyrdom, mechanistic materialism, salvation, self- preservation, soul

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