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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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Thomas Hobbes: Relating Nature and Politics

Thomas Hobbes: Relating Nature and Politics

(p.83) 4 Thomas Hobbes: Relating Nature and Politics
Engaging Nature

John M. Meyer

The MIT Press

John M. Meyer focuses on meta-theoretical lessons from Thomas Hobbes rather than on Hobbes’s substantive views about nature. He shows how Hobbes, who offers thoroughly realized accounts of both the natural world and the political community, illuminates the relationship between conceptions of nature and conceptions of politics. Meyer rejects two leading interpretations of Hobbes: the dualist interpretation that sees Hobbes as sharply contrasting a violent, brutal nature with a peaceful, orderly political commonwealth, and the derivative interpretation that sees Hobbes as simply deriving his political theory from his mechanistic view of nature. Meyer in fact sees in Hobbes’s political theory a mutually constitutive relationship between human beings’ participation in and interaction with nature on the one hand and their political life on the other. Based on this discussion of Hobbes, Meyer urges recognition of a mutually constitutive relationship between nature and politics rather than the reductionist insistence – often pursued by environmentalists –that our conception of politics may be directly derived froman account of the natural world.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, De Corpore(Hobbes), Leviathan(Hobbes), environmental political theory, nature and politics, nominalism, mechanism

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