Hobbes on Love and Fear of God

In Robin Douglass & Johan Olsthoorn (eds.), Hobbes's On the Citizen: A Critical Guide. Cambridge, UK: pp. 161-179 (2020)

Thomas Holden
University of California at Santa Barbara
Hobbes clearly and consistently maintains that we have a duty to love and fear God. However, he also problematizes love of God and, by implication, other passions putatively directed “to Godward.” We lack any conception of God, and therefore cannot love God in any literal sense. Moreover, even if love of God were psychologically possible, it is not clear that it would be appropriate, since love is apt only when someone is good to us. Love also requires wishing for the well-being of the beloved, which is absurd in the case of God. Similar arguments apply to fear of God.
Keywords Hobbes  God  passions  love  fear  law of nature
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