• When Self-Preservation Bids: Approaching Milton, Hobbes, and Dissent

    Author(s):
    Christopher Warren (see profile)
    Date:
    2007
    Group(s):
    LLC 17th-Century English, TC Law and the Humanities
    Subject(s):
    Early modern studies, English literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    John Milton, Hobbes, political theory, 17th Century, Samson Agonistes
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M65C9W
    Abstract:
    Critics have long used the heuristic device of opposing John Milton and Thomas Hobbes, but this essay explores surprising affinities between the two. After observing that Milton and other Restoration dissenters often agreed with Hobbes on questions of ecclesiastic jurisdiction and toleration nearly as much as they disagreed with what seemed at times like Hobbes' unswerving de facto-ism, the essay shows how Milton and other dissenters found in Hobbes'Leviathan an alluring theory of political obligation that, under certain circumstances, offered much-sought-after rights against the persecuting Restoration state. Emphasizing the epistemological questions brought to the fore by Hobbes' distinct focus on self-preservation, the essay reads Milton's Samson Agonistes as a partial and complicated reception of Hobbes' thought. In adopting, and at the same time rewriting, elements of Leviathan's famous state of nature, Samson Agonistes, it is argued, marks an important moment in the history of political theory and a significant moment for the development of modern popular sovereignty.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal Article
    Pub. DOI:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6757.2007.00096.x
    Publisher:
    Wiley-Blackwell
    Journal:
    English Literary Renaissance
    Volume:
    37
    Issue:
    1
    Start Page:
    118
    End Page:
    150
    Status:
    Published
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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