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The despotical doctrine of Hobbes, part ii: aspects of the textual substructure of tyranny in Leviathan

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Part I having argued that the history of the modern reception of Hobbes's Leviathan shows a pattern of distortion in the reading of its despotical character, Part II tries to reveal more clearly the ways in which Hobbes's political theory was a doctrine of tyranny. To this end, the essay (1) uses Lockean political liberty as a negative heuristic to help reveal the oppressive principles in Leviathan, (2) explores the conception of ‘arbitration’ in Hobbes to see how the utter surrender of liberty and judgment lies at the root of his political theory, and (3) speculates on the dreadful implications of the idea of absolute power in the hands of Hobbesian man.

Keywords: C.D. Vaughan; David Gauthier; Gregory Kavka; Jean Hampton; Michael Oakeshott; Sheldon Wolin; Thomas Hobbes; absolutism; contractarianism; despotic theory; liberal theory; political philosophy; political theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Political Science, The University at Albany, Albany, NY. Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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