Chapter

Hobbes's Linguistic Turn

Terence Ball

in Reappraising Political Theory

Published in print November 1994 | ISBN: 9780198279952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598753 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198279957.003.0004
 Hobbes's Linguistic Turn

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Here, I examine and criticize the claim that Hobbes was a proto‐positivist precursor of the modern scientific study of politics. Against this view, I argue that Hobbes may be better viewed as a thinker acutely aware of the communicative constitution of human society. Because communicative distortion and breakdown are ever‐present possibilities, an all‐powerful `sovereign definer’ is needed to prevent or preclude the communicative breakdown that characterizes the Hobbesian state of nature.

Keywords: civil science; communication; Thomas Hobbes; linguistic turn; political science; political theory; positivism; state of nature

Chapter.  8937 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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