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From nature to history, and back again : Blumenberg, Strauss and the Hobbesian community

Yar, Majid (2002) From nature to history, and back again : Blumenberg, Strauss and the Hobbesian community. History of the Human Sciences, 15 (3). pp. 53-73.

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Abstract

This article explores the origins of the problematic of political community by considering it in relation to the founding principles of 'modern thought'. These principles are identified with the extirpation of moral values and ends from nature, in keeping with the rise of a 'disenchanted' and mechanical scientific world-view. The transition from an 'ancient' to a 'modern' world-view is elaborated by drawing upon the work of Hans Blumenberg and Leo Strauss. The 'demoralization' of nature, it is claimed, projects the formation of the political commons into the space of history, a space within which community must be produced via artifice on the part of the willing subject. This Leitbild of modern community is examined through a reading of Hobbes's Leviathan which, it is claimed, stands as the founding attempt to remember the political commons from the sphere of human immanence, without recourse to natural or theological externality. However, it is argued, nature occupies an intermediary and ambiguous position in Hobbes's thought, at once transcended and reinscribed into political life as a 'hedonist anthropology' that defines the human animal. Further, Hobbes's insistence that conventionally produced standards need be misrecognized as necessary and non-contingent undermines their legitimacy from the standpoint of human autonomy. This failure to break decisively with the appeal to nature leads to a political community that is at best a simulacrum, far removed from the vision of ethical unity that characterizes the classical conception of the polis and political life. Yet, it is argued, Hobbes's strategy nevertheless presents the key to subsequent attempts to complete a political 'revolt' against nature, as developed in the thought of Rousseau, Kant and Hegel.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: History of the Human Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: artifice • history • nature • politics • power • recognition • will
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Politics & International Relations (Merged into PPR 2010-08-01)
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Applied Social Science
ID Code: 13464
Deposited By: Ms Margaret Calder
Deposited On: 19 Sep 2008 16:26
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 15:08
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/13464

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