Hobbes’s Radical Nominalism

Authors
Gordon Hull
University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Abstract
This paper analyzes Hobbes’s understanding of signification, the process whereby words come to have meaning. Most generally, Hobbes develops and extends the nominalist critique of universals as it is found in Ockham and subsequently carried forward by early moderns such as Descartes. Hobbes’s radicality emerges in comparison with Ockham and Descartes, as, unlike them, Hobbes also reduces the intellectual faculty entirely to imagination. According to Hobbes, we have nothing in which a stabilizing, pre-discursive mental language could inhere. Hobbes thus concludes that all thinking is affective and semiotic, and depends on the regulation of conventionally established regimes of signs. Establishing this regulation is one of the central functions of the Hobbesian commonwealth
Keywords Ancient Philosophy  Continental Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 1085-1968  
DOI 10.5840/epoche200611119
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