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Hobbes on Politics and Religion$
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Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803409.001.0001

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Hobbes and Early English Deism

Hobbes and Early English Deism

(p.202) 12 Hobbes and Early English Deism
Hobbes on Politics and Religion

Elad Carmel

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the relationship between Hobbes and English deism was closer than is usually appreciated. Hobbes and the subsequent deists had similar ideas on the relationship between politics and religion, a topic which was at the very centre of their projects. They all were motivated primarily by anticlericalism and were the leading figures in the early battle against priestcraft. This argument is presented in two parts. The first reviews the ways in which Charles Blount, John Toland, Matthew Tindal, and Anthony Collins were indebted to Hobbes, each in his own distinct way. The second part argues that Hobbes’s theory contained some central elements that were, in fact, rather ‘enlightened’—the hope for natural reason being one main theme—thus bringing Hobbes’s project closer to that of subsequent deists. Deism, in this sense, was one possible highway to what may be seen as a Hobbesian enlightenment.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, Charles Blount, John Toland, Matthew Tindal, Anthony Collins, English deism, anticlericalism, enlightenment

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