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Leviathan, Or The Matter, Forme, & Power Of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civill.
London, Printed for Andrew Crooke), at the Green Dragon. 1651. Small folio. Contemporary full calf with blindstamped "mirror" borders to boards. Neatly rebacked in contemporary style, with five reaised bads, blindstamped fleur-de-lys' and gilt leather title label. Frontispiece mounted and marginal paper-restorations to first leaf of text (far from affecting text) and to second-last leaf (just shaving the catchwordn on p. 394). Last leaf with the lower half mounted from verso (blank part), no loss of text. Last leaf also with two small holes, one affecting one letter, the other merely marginal. The folded plate is unusually nice and fresh, with just a small strengthening at the inner lower fold. A small repair to inner margin of title-page, far from affecting lettering. Title-page and last leaf a bit browned. Otherwise just a bit of occasional browning or soiling. Two bookplates to inside of front board: T.B. Shaw, and a newer: Roberto Salinas Price.Fully complete, with both the engraved frontispiece and the folded table opposite p. 40 (this in much better condition than can be expected). (8), 396 pp.. First edition, first issue (winged head in woodcut device). Quite simply the most important work of philosophy produced in the English language and undoubtedly one of the most impressive performances by any writer of the English language, Thomas Hobbes' magnus opus is one of the finest achievements of the modern mind. It has shaped political modernity in a way that only a few other texts have, both in the way it has been understood and the way in which it has been misunderstood.Hobbes published the Leviathan in 1651. It builds on and extends his earlier works "Elements of Law" (1640) and "De Cive" (1642) in which he had attempted to establish the foundations for a civil science, a science of political life. Hobbes' intention is to show that man must subject himself to a sovereign power, a power greater than any other power known to man, save God. The emphasis on the fearsome might of the commonwealth has saddled Hobbes with a reputation for being a prophet of the totalitarian state. A conception to which the famous, or rather infamous, frontispiece of the work would seem to lend credence. This interpretation is certainly not without textual basis, but over the last twenty years, scholarship has corrected the image of Hobbes as a totalitarian thinker, showing that the power of the Leviathan is premised on his respect for the natural rights of the subjects, moving him closer to the concerns which liberalism shall take up (Luc Foisneau, Hobbes et la toute-puissance de Dieu, 2000; Richard Tuck (ed.), Hobbes. Leviathan, introduction; an early indication in Leo Strauss, The Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, 1936).Even if it had not been so spectacularly successful, the Leviathan would have deserved a place among the most important works of political thought. It is in this treatise that the concept of representation is introduced which has since then been a pivotal element in constitutional order, being the conduit through which the sphere of political life is reflected in the constitution. In this respect, the Leviathan constitutes a significant advance over Hobbes' earlier forays into political theory where he could not liberate himself from the corporatist categories of Romanist and medieval law. The idea that we authorize those who govern us and that we are committed to obey precisely because we do so is so simple and yet so powerful, in part because of the intricate way in which Hobbes manages to drive a wedge between the origin and the exercise of sovereign power. This distinction became pivotal in the development of the enlightened monarchies of Europe that held to the idea that the people was the source of power, but that the exercise of power lay with the king, their appointed representative.For centuries, it has been widely believed that Hobbes looked to the natural sciences for inspiration and that his civil science grew out of the application of the principles of Euclidian geometry to the interaction of men. This interpretation has some foundation in the text, but recent scholarship has suggested that Hobbes is engaging in a retrospective reinterpretation of his own work and that the intellectual foundations of Hobbes' political philosophy had been laid through long years of humanist studies. This re-appraisal of Hobbes' intellectual biography has led to a renewed interest in the fourth part of Hobbes' Leviathan, which has long been neglected, in which he treats of the so-called Kingdom of Darkness, the conceptions of civil order which arise through the misguided or even misleading interpretation of Scripture.The discovery of the importance of the theological dimension of Hobbes' thought has only added another reason to immerse oneself in the study of this great text which has shaped modernity, political, social and religious, in so many ways.Hugh Macdonald & Mary Hargreaves "Thomas Hobbes. A Bibliography", No.42. - Printing & the Mind of Man 138
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Last Found On: 2014-10-10           Check availability:      Antikvariat    

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