The Creature from the British Isles: The Historical and Contemporary Importance of Thomas Hobbes’s Political Philosophy
Political philosophy is of central importance to much of the goings-on of a nation. Even though he is commonly addressed in those works at the forefront of political theory, one man often stands on the outside: Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes is often cited as too pessimistic or too intent on the necessity of authoritarianism. Although neither point is untrue, his work encompasses much more than these two characteristics, often having far more significance than many political theorists are willing to admit. This paper gives an account of Hobbes’s historical importance and the reactions that he evoked, specifically in the work of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, before progressing into an examination of his contemporary importance by using his work as a lens through which to analyze the Trump and Biden administrations’ respective responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hobbes believed that one of humanity’s driving factors is fear and, with the current political and social situations being created by the pandemic, his fear-based political philosophy has become strikingly significant and prescient once again, which may point to a resurging importance of security—even of the authoritarian kind—in place of freedom when the world is faced with an uncertain future.
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