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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The English Civil War was of key importance for Hobbes’s political philosophy. Accordingly, Behemoth—his “booke of the Civill Warr”—is of prime interest for the study of Hobbes’s political views. It is mistaken, or at least seriously misleading, to read Behemoth as simply a history. The best interpretations of Behemoth as a history have established that Hobbes wrote a very unusual history book and led to the conclusion that Behemoth was more exactly a book of politics. As such, Behemoth has been read as Hobbes’s Machiavellian treatise. That, too, is mistaken. Hobbes’s analysis of the English Civil War politics was indeed Machiavellian or, rather, reason of state, but his own political position—bearing on his interpretation of the Civil War—was that of his political philosophy as the science of just and unjust. In Behemoth, Hobbes is at work both as political analyst and political philosopher.

Keywords: Hobbes, Behemoth, Machiavellism, reason of state, English Civil War, political philosophy

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