On benevolence and love of others

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Hobbes is famous for his insights into the impact of man’s fear, glory and greed on war and peace, not for his views on the bearing of men’s benevolence on the commonwealth. Are Hobbesian people even capable of love of others? In the literature, we find two main answers: one view is that Hobbes ruled out the possibility of disinterested benevolence among men; the other is that Hobbes considered actions driven by genuine benevolence possible but uncommon.

After reviewing in broad outlines the two above positions, this chapter seeks to demonstrate the claim that Hobbes did not consider relevant to establish if men are capable of genuine benevolence or not, because he maintained that benevolent men can be as inept as egoists in differentiating apparent and real good for themselves and their loved ones and the effect of misguided altruism on the commonwealth is as damaging as the effect of ill-advised egoism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterpreting Hobbes's political philosophy
EditorsSharon A. Lloyd
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108234870
ISBN (Print)9781108415613
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Benevolence
  • Altruism
  • Egoism
  • Love of others


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