Social Scientist. v 8, no. 88 (Nov 1979) p. 37.

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Concept of Man in Political theory


"NOW we can see we are at home," said Hegel about Descartes. "Like sailors who have long ranged the stormy seas,wc can exclaim "Land5!"1 With Hobbes, political theorists have the same feeling of coming home. This familiarity of concernment had already started with Machiavelli's theory. He talks of a psychology we understand:

a man sooner forgets the death of his father than the loss of his patrimonyŚcharacteristic bourgeois sentiments, but expressed without the characteristic hypocrisy. Machiavelli's theory is really significant as a sign of, as a preparation for what was to come. He is a paradigmatic figure in a curious sense. So much is implicit in him; so little is elaborated. He simply noted down his conclusions about political activity in Italy. But it implied a whole set of methodological and substantive postulates, Hobbes would render them explicit.

Hobbes claimed that civil philosophy before him was "rather a dream than a science55. His theory is an inexhaustible reservoir of insights into the sociology of capitalism and partly its politics. Even his errors are instructive. Hobbes's Leviathan starts in a copybook fashion; methodologists would always be delighted with his scrupulous adherence to the logic of presentation. He starts out from some basic postulates in an ascending system of complexity

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