Event Detail

Tue Apr 7, 2009
201 Moses, 4–6 PM
Conal Condren (New South Wales)
Lucianic Humour in Philosophy: Hobbes, His Critics and a Paradox of Contextualisation

Histories of philosophy are largely trajectories of doctrine and proposition leading to and judged by current standards of philosophical propriety; in them, the historical importance of the persona of the philosopher in early modern debate has been largely overlooked as it is not overtly important now. One consequence of trying to render histories of philosophy less anachronistic has been to uncover the significance of serio laudere satire in philosophy, embracing argumentative reduction of doctrines and ad hominem denigration of the philosophers associated with them.

This paper takes the case of Thomas Hobbes and the hostile reception of his work and suggests that there were intelligible philosophical grounds for Hobbes and his critics to have been arguing in ways that now seem philosophically improper. The paradoxical consequence is that better contextualization can make interpretation not less, but more problematic than is often thought.