Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes : Turning Point for Honor

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Has modern Western society lost its sense of honor? If so, can we find the reason for this loss? Laurie Johnson Bagby turns to the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes for answers to these questions, finding in him the early modern 'turning point for honor.' She examines Hobbes's use of the word honor throughout his career and reveals in Hobbes's thought an evolving understanding of honor, at least in his analysis of politics and society. She also looks at Hobbes's life and times, especially the English Civil War, a cataclysmic event that solidified his rejection of honor as a socially and politically useful concept. Bagby analyzes key ideas in Hobbes's philosophy which shed further light on his conclusion that the desire for honor is dangerous and needs to be eliminated in favor of fear and self-interest. In the end, she questions whether the equality of fear in the state of nature is actually a better source of social and political obligation than honor. In rejecting any sense of obligation based upon earlier notions of natural superiors and inferiors, does Hobbesian and future liberal thought unnecessarily reject honor as a source of restraint in society that previously promoted protection of the weaker against the stronger?show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 186 pages
  • Lexington Books
  • MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739136054
  • 9780739136058

About Laurie M Bagby

Laurie M. Johnson Bagby is associate professor in the department of political science at Kansas State University and author ofHobbes's Leviathan;Political Thought: A Guide to the Classics; andThucydides, Hobbes, and the Interpretation of more

Review quote

These questions motivate Laurie M. Johnson Bagby's interesting inquiry into Hobbes' understandings of honor and their place in intellectual history...One of the strengths of this book is its reach throughout Hobbes's thought. Bagby has admirably scoured his works to offer a comprehensive account of honor.... Bagby raises such questions to inspire reflection and further research.... As intended, Bagby has inspired questions about the potential for honor in our culture. I hope that her work initiates research along the lines that she suggests. Hobbes, in her informative analysis, offers a helpful perspective for our deliberations... Bagby (Kansas State Univ.) offers a close textual reading of the meaning of the idea of honor in the work of Thomas Hobbes. Bagby does a good job in contextualizing Hobbes's thoughts on honor. Her reading is both sensitive and creative... Recommended..... This book is part of the contemporary revival of interest in the concept of honor. Laurie Bagby joins the ranks of authors such as Brad Miner, James Bowman, and Harvey Mansfield in arguing that the diminishment of the old-fashioned concept of honor is detrimental to society. The works of Thomas Hobbes are singled out as forming the turning point in the Western attitude to honor. Although the overall project of recovering the old concept of honor is highly controversial, the historical and analytical discussion of this concept in Hobbes's times and works is thought-provoking and engaging...--Gabriella Slomp With an eye toward the growing recognition that the assault on honor within modern liberal regimes threatens the longevity of egalitarian political societies, Laurie Bagby directs our attention to the figure she contends to be the originator of our crisis, Thomas Hobbes. Her provocative thesis, that Hobbes's attempt to found politics on the equality of all people necessitated the rejection of the 'gentlemanly' virtues and, to the extent to which modern political life is indebted to his thought, has thereby only exacerbated society's inability to protect the vulnerable (particularly women), is sure to generate much-needed debate about the successes and failures of modern liberalism...--Michael P. Krom Professor Johnson Bagby presents a searching, and highly topical, revaluation of the role of honor in modern, post-Hobbesian society. Drawing on historical, biographical, and textual material, this book explores the ancient and medieval concepts of honor, as well as the evolution of Hobbes's own thinking on honor. The book makes a very timely plea for a revival of the notion of honor, suitably updated, to cure some of the problems to which Hobbesian society is unfortunately prone. Classical notions of honor cannot simply be brought back in this egalitarian, gender-neutral world, so the book thoughtfully weighs ways in which honor might be revamped to become a force once again in our society...--Steven Forde, University of North Texasshow more