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QUENTIN SKINNER'S HOBBES AND THE NEO-REPUBLICAN PROJECT*

  • JEFFREY R. COLLINS (a1)
Abstract

For nearly half a century, Quentin Skinner has been the world's foremost interpreter of Thomas Hobbes. When the contextualist mode of intellectual history now known as the “Cambridge School” was first asserting itself in the 1960s, the life and writings of John Locke were the primary topic for pioneers such as Peter Laslett and John Dunn. At that time, Hobbes was still the plaything of philosophers and political scientists, virtually all of whom wrote in an ahistorical, textual-analytic manner. Hobbes had not been the subject of serious contextual research for decades, since the foundational writings of Ferdinand Tönnies. For Skinner, he was thus an ideal subject, providing a space for original research on a major figure, and an occasion for some polemically charged methodological manifestos. Both of these purposes animated his 1965 article “History and Ideology in the English Revolution,” and his 1966 article “The Ideological Context of Hobbes's Political Thought”. The latter of these remains to this day one of the most widely cited scholarly articles in the fifty-year run of Cambridge's Historical Journal. Among other results of these early efforts was the scholarly controversy during which Howard Warrender chided Skinner for having reduced the “classic texts in political philosophy” to mere “tracts for the times”.

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Quentin Skinner , “History and Ideology in the English Revolution”, Historical Journal 8 (1965), 151–78

Mark Goldie , “Fifty Years of the Historical Journal”, Historical Journal 51 (2008), 851

Howard Warrender , “Political Theory and Historiography: A Reply to Professor Skinner on Hobbes”, Historical Journal 22 (1979), 931–40

Kinch Hoekstra , “The De Facto Turn in Hobbes's Political Philosophy”, in Tom Sorell and Luc Foisneau , eds., Leviathan after 350 Years (Oxford, 2004), 3374

Mark Goldie , “The Context of The Foundations”, in Annabel Brett and James Tully , with Holly Hamilton Bleakley , eds., Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought (Cambridge, 2006), 319

Quentin Skinner , “The Idea of Negative Liberty”, in Richard Rorty , J. B. Schneewind and Quentin Skinner , eds., Philosophy in History (Cambridge, 1984)

Quentin Skinner , “Classic Liberty and the English Civil War”, in Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner , eds., Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 2002), 2: 929

Paul A. Rahe , Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic (Cambridge, 2008)

Deborah Baumgold , “The Difficulties of Hobbes Interpretation”, Political Theory 36 (2008), 839, 844–7

Michael Drolet , “Quentin Skinner and Jacques Derrida on Power and the State”, History of European Ideas 33 (2007), 234–55

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Modern Intellectual History
  • ISSN: 1479-2443
  • EISSN: 1479-2451
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-intellectual-history
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