The Judeo-Christian Elements in Hobbes's Leviathan MORDECAI ROSHWALD Pray for the wellbeing of the kingdom: For were it not for the fear it inspires, man would swallow his neighbour alive. I. The Rabbinical Connection The above motto, which fits to perfection the central political conviction of Hobbes, and may suit the present study as well, is not taken from any of the phil- osopher's writings, but is attributed to Rabbi Hanina, a Jewish scholar from the first century A.D.I The saying contains Hobbes's famous dictum homo homini lupus est. Indeed, even the metaphors "swallowed alive" and "wolf ' could be re- garded as complementary, if we recollect the story of Red Riding Hood. The sa- ying of Rabbi Hanina also stresses the fear of authority as an effective protection against human pugnacity and its social corollary, bellum omnium contra omnes. It also invokes the fundamental interest of human beings in the wellbeing, or well-functioning, of the state, and even summons religion in support of the politi- cal institution, which also accords with the philosophy of Leviathan. Does this suggest a major influence of rabbinical thinking, preceding the pub- lication of Leviathan by more than a millennium and a
Hobbes Studies – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1994
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