Why Isn’t Thomas Hobbes Conservative Enough?

According to a blog of the Washington Post, professors at Patrick Henry College feel discouraged from reading Thomas Hobbes. Patrick Henry College sees itself as a conservative Christian institution.

Isn’t it ironic that a “conservative” university would dicourage its students to read the conservative philosopher Thomas Hobbes?

I don’t know why Patrick Henry College takes this position but I have read Hobbes. His discussion of politics and religion is indeed a repudiation of the religious right’s agenda. Hobbes understood that fundamentalism undermines reason, induces fanaticism, and becomes self-destructive.

I am all for religion in the public square but unless it is tempered with tolerance and humility, religion is a destructive force. Thoughtful thinkers of the Christian Right understand that. Most of the political entrepreneurs do not.

Since the Renaissance, Europeans do not agree about the nature of God anymore. Among other things, that’s what Hobbes wrote about. We still don’t agree about God today. Hence Hobbes remains an important voice in contemporary politics.

If it were true that Patrick Henry College discourages the study of Hobbes then that would amount to an admission of weakness. It’s stuff like this that gives religion a bad name.


One comment

  1. Answer: because “conservative” has not always got anything to do with “conservative.” If I were a conservative Republican I would be livid with the hijacking of the right by the extreme right.


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