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Potentia – Hobbes and Spinoza on Power and Popular Politics - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Potentia: Hobbes and Spinoza on Power and Popular Politics

Sandra Leonie Field


This book offers a detailed study of the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Benedict de Spinoza, focussing on their concept of power as potentia, concrete power, rather than power as potestas, authorized power. The focus on power as potentia generates a new conception of popular power. Radical democrats—whether drawing on Hobbes’s ‘sleeping sovereign’ or on Spinoza’s ‘multitude’—understand popular power as something that transcends ordinary institutional politics, as, for instance, popular plebiscites or mass movements. However, the book argues that these understandings reflect a resi ... More

Keywords: Hobbes, Spinoza, potentia, popular power, democracy, radical democracy, repressive egalitarianism, civic strengthening, multitude, sleeping sovereign

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780197528242
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780197528242.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Sandra Leonie Field, author
Assistant Professor of Humanities, Yale-NUS College, Singapore