Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Hobbes and the tragedy of democracy
Authors: Holman, Christopher
Keywords: Social sciences::Political science::Political theory
Issue Date: 2019
Source: Holman, C. (2019). Hobbes and the tragedy of democracy. History of Political Thought, 40(4), 649-675.
Project: RG70/18 
Journal: History of Political Thought 
Abstract: This article reconsiders Thomas Hobbes's critique of the democratic sovereign form from the standpoint of what it identifies as the latter's most important ontological conditions: the lack of a transcendent source of fundamental law, and a natural human equality that renders all individuals competent to participate in legislative modes. For Hobbes these two conditions combine to render democracy a tragic regime. Democracy is tragic to the extent that it must be a regime of self-limitation, there existing no ethical standard external to society that may intervene so as to guide our political self-activity, and yet the structure of deliberation in democratic assemblies tends to render such self-limitation impossible. Hence what Hobbes sees as the inherent tendency of democratic activity to descend into excess and madness. This risk is an intrinsic potentiality embedded within democracy's very conditions, a fact covered up by much post-Hobbesian liberal democratic theory that attempts to normatively ground the democratic form in various universal principles of natural law or right.
ISSN: 0143-781X
Schools: School of Social Sciences 
Rights: © 2019 Imprint Academic. All rights reserved. This paper was published in History of Political Thought and is made available with permission of Imprint Academic.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SSS Journal Articles

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
hobbes and the tragedy of democracy.pdf429.85 kBAdobe PDFThumbnail

Page view(s)

Updated on Jul 25, 2024

Download(s) 5

Updated on Jul 25, 2024

Google ScholarTM


Items in DR-NTU are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.