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In the Shadow of Leviathan
John Locke and the Politics of Conscience


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  • Date Published: October 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108746229

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About the Authors
  • Thomas Hobbes and John Locke sit together in the canon of political thought but are rarely treated in common historical accounts. This book narrates their intertwined careers during the Restoration period, when the two men found themselves in close proximity and entangled in many of the same political conflicts. Bringing new source material to bear, In the Shadow of Leviathan establishes the influence of Hobbesian thought over Locke, particularly in relation to the preeminent question of religious toleration. Excavating Hobbes's now forgotten case for a prudent, politique toleration gifted by sovereign power, Jeffrey R. Collins argues that modern, liberal thinking about toleration was transformed by Locke's gradual emancipation from this Hobbesian mode of thought. This book investigates those landmark events - the civil war, Restoration, the popish plot, the Revolution of 1688 - which eventually forced Locke to confront the limits of politique toleration, and to devise an account of religious freedom as an inalienable right.

    • Reopens the old and neglected question of Hobbes's influence over Locke with new evidence and interpretive methods
    • Develops and explains not just the arguments of Hobbes and Locke, but their political context, the circulation and reception of their ideas, and the print history of their books
    • Draws out the significance of early modern intellectual history to modern, liberal thinking around religious toleration
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    • Winner, 2021 Morris D. Forkosch Prize, American Historical Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a major scholarly contribution, and among many important contributions of this extremely valuable new book by one of the most important interpreters of Hobbes, and now also of Locke.' John Marshall, Hobbes Studies

    'In the Shadow of Leviathan is a worthy sequel to Jeffrey Collins's outstanding 2005 book, The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes … Among the many virtues of Collins's book, the most impressive is his meticulous examination of the historical context in which the shift in Locke's thinking occurred. In a time in which many academic books are written too hastily, it is satisfying to read a work that is clearly the product of many years of painstaking research. Political theorists, in particular, will find that they have much to learn - as this one did - from Collins's thorough examination of the debates and political dynamics of the Interregnum and especially the Restoration.' Devin Stauffer, The Review of Politics

    'A definitive and transformative study.' E. J. Eisenach, Choice

    '… Collins's consistently brilliant reading of Hobbes and Locke through the lens of 'the Restoration toleration wars' provides a vital reminder of the inadequacy of toleration, in and of itself, as the interpretive key to the ecclesiastical politics of the era.' Brent S. Sirota, Journal of British Studies

    '… In the Shadow of Leviathan is an important work of scholarship from which no one can fail to learn a great deal. It is to be hoped that it will stimulate other scholars to rescue the relationship between Locke and Hobbes from a period of anomalous and wholly undeserved neglect.' Nicholas Jolley, Journal of the History of Philosophy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108746229
    • length: 458 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.611kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Note on the text
    List of abbreviations
    1. John Locke and Interregnum Hobbism
    2. The Restoration projects of Thomas Hobbes
    3. John Locke and the Restoration politique
    4. Non-domination liberty in spiritual context
    5. Locke, conscience, and the Libertas Ecclesiae
    6. Locke and Catholicism: the 'Roman Leviathan'
    7. Locke and a 'more liberal' Hobbism
    Conclusion. Conscience and Liberalism's two paths

  • Author

    Jeffrey R. Collins, Queen's University, Ontario
    Jeffrey R. Collins is Associate Professor of History at Queen's University, Canada. He is the author of The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes (2005) and numerous articles on modern religion and political thought in journals such as Modern Intellectual History and the Journal of Modern History. He is also a regular book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement.


    • Winner, 2021 Morris D. Forkosch Prize, American Historical Association

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