Inquiry 42 (2):149 – 176 (1999)
|Abstract||Hobbes promises to teach philosophers how to imitate God. With this bold claim as its basis, the paper questions the widely accepted view that Hobbes authored an early instance of a modern social science. It focuses on the constraints that Hobbes imposes on the language of philosophical practitioners. He restricts its truth-claims to the closed circle of language; he does not philosophize to describe, model, predict, or mirror empirical reality. He nevertheless makes claims for a useful science, one that can construct a stable commonwealth. The restrictive claims concerning truth and Hobbes's claim to a practical philosophy are reconciled through an investigation of his distinction between 'a posteriori' and 'a priori' sciences. Hobbes teaches philosophers to imitate God as a creator : as a 're-creator' of divinely produced effects (a posteriori), or (like an architect) by manipulating matter to create things we design ourselves (a priori). The science of politics is a priori. It dictates the motions (of men) so as to create a well-ordered commonwealth, an artificial man, a creation made in our own image.|
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