Political metaphysics : God, determinism, and constructivism in the thought of Thomas Hobbes and Gerrard Winstanley
Chapman, Victoria Frances
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Divinity
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Chapman, V. F. (2007). Political metaphysics : God, determinism, and constructivism in the thought of Thomas Hobbes and Gerrard Winstanley (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11678
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This thesis assesses the role of theology in the political theories of the seventeenth-century contemporaries Thomas Hobbes and Gerrard \v'instanley. It claims that a proper understanding of their respective political theories relies upon a thorough and nuanced understanding of the nature of the theology that they are positing. I argue that the key to understanding Hobbes's authoritarian theory of sovereignty is his deistic theology. Likewise, an appreciation of the nuances of Winstanley's collectivism relies, I claim, upon a thorough grasp of his pantheistic metaphysics. Iviore specifically, I show that, because of his deistic theology, Hobbes is able to posit coherently a compatibilist relationship between the deterministic elements of his political metaphysics and the constrnctivist nature of his political theory. Hobbes sets out a materialistic account of political motivation which relies upon a deterministic emphasis on the role of physical motion on human psychology. He also, I claim, combines this with a normative account of political obligation in the form of divinely-ordained determinism. These deterministic elements are not, however, incompatible with his emphasis on the role of human construction evidenced in his notion of the artificial sovereign and body politic. This is because, I demonstrate, Hobbes's deistic theology emphasises the divinely-created status of humanity, whilst allowing human creative freedom. Winstanley's pantheistic metaphysics also reveal his fundamentally compatibilist approach to determinism and constrnctivism. \Xlinstanley posits God as radically imminent. He identifies human reason with the divine. As a result, human constructive political action in the fo1m of activist political collectivism is both the product of human creativity and divine determinism. Properly speaking, for Winstanley theology and the political are one and the same thing. This thesis makes two central points. First of all, it emphasises Hobbes's and Winstanley's compatabilist approach to determinism and constrnctivism, a compatibilism only revealed by a nuanced and thorough understanding of Hobbes's deistic theology and Winstanley's pantheism. In so doing, it offers a revised approach to both thinkers that contests the dichotomous approach to determinism and constructivism that has been set out by much secondary Hobbes and Winstanley scholarship. Secondly, this thesis makes a more general point: a thorough study of Hobbes's and Winstanley's theological politics demonstrates the importance of a nuanced appreciation of the nature of the theology that is posited by a particular tl1eological political theory. Theology is not a monolithic concept, and should not be treated as such.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11678