Abstract
Because Hobbes is understood to be a proto-liberal thinker, a great deal hinges on how we understand his writings. Does he contribute to the development of a purely secular political self-understanding, as many liberals today claim? And, by extension, does that mean that liberal thought today best stands on a purely secular foundation? What, then, should we make of the extensive theological speculation throughout his Leviathan? Here, I argue that to reconcile the seemingly purely secular claims in Leviathan with the obviously religious claims found there we must move beyond reading him in terms of what I here call 'the fable of liberalism', and comprehend Leviathan as a whole in terms of Reformation era debates between Protestants and Roman Catholics about the limits and purview of reason. Understood in that way we see his claims about 'reason' in a new and important light. Rather than being an inevitable development that comes to supercede honour and glory, as the fable of liberalism suggests, 'reason' is seen to have an historically contingent character, whose parameters are established by wagers about the meaning of religious experience.
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DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/th.2007.5511502
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