Skip to main content

Robert Filmer about Thomas Hobbes

Image result for richard nixon futurama

With no small content I read Mr. Hobbes’ book De Cive, and his Leviathan, about the rights of sovereignty, which no man, that I know hath so amply and judiciously handled. I consent with him about the rights of exercising government, but I cannot agree to his means of acquiring it. It may seem strange that I should praise his building and yet mislike his foundation, but so it is.

That was Robert Filmer, the divine-right-of-kings theorist, apologist for the whims of the Stuart family.
I take the quote from Yves Charles Zarka's book about Hobbes, newly translated into English by James Griffith. Griffith also contributes an introduction, stressing that though Leo Strauss is "to some degree an ally of Zarka's in the argument against historicism, they are not involved in identical projects."  
I have a full review of Zarka's book in a forthcoming issue of The Federal Lawyer.  I go into more particulars about the Filmer/Hobbes contrast there, as well as going further into the issue of historicism in political philosophy.
The last time I mentioned Filmer in print it was in my book about the politics of Supreme Court appointments, where I briefly allude to Nixon's apparent aspirations for the power of a "Filmeresque monarch." I think that's the phrase I used.
I remember at that time wondering whether it might not be better to use a Hobbesian reference, but decided against it.
Can't say that I remember why.   But perhaps I was anticipating the eventual cartoon Futurama, and its fascination with Nixon's posthumous preservation. See image above.

Or ... not. 


  1. You wrote "Filmer-like monarchy." Are you too lazy even to look in the index? Or do you expect an editor to do it for you? :-)

  2. Yes, in my hobbyist blogging I'm careless about quotes. Especially of myself! I appreciate your industriousness in looking that up, though.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…