On Sovereign’s Right to Interpret the Scriptures: The Political Sense of Hobbs’s Theory Cover Image
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Suverenovo pravo na tumačenje Biblije: o smislu jednog teorema Hobsove politike
On Sovereign’s Right to Interpret the Scriptures: The Political Sense of Hobbs’s Theory

Author(s): Vladimir Milisavljević
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Nova srpska politička misao
Keywords: interpretation; language; law; Scriptures; sovereign;

Summary/Abstract: Hobbes’s political theory is often considered as a modern form of „political theology“. However, in this paper, I argue for a secularist explanation of his political views. Hobbes’s theory of sovereign’s exclusive authority in the matter of interpretation of the Scriptures cannot be fully accounted for as a logical consequence of his thesis that sovereignty is one and indivisible. On the contrary, this theory is deeply rooted in his general philosophical views on language, text and law. First of all, Hobbes’s statement of sovereign’s right to decide on the meaning of Scriptures is partly based on his conception of the inner indeterminateness of human language, especially when it comes to written texts. This conception is inspired by sceptical authors, such as Montaigne: Hobbes justifies sovereign’s right to the interpretation by the necessity of putting an end to the plethora of commentaries. However, this authority is positively established only with the second step of his argument – with his identification of sovereign’s interpretation of Scriptures with civil law, which is itself defined in his writings in terms of sovereign’s command. This theory deprives the Scriptures of the greatest part of their authority and opens a new chapter in the history of relations between religion and politics.

  • Issue Year: 15/2007
  • Issue No: 03+04
  • Page Range: 91-111
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Serbian