Luc Foisneau

General seminars
amse seminar

Luc Foisneau

The restless life: Hobbes and the foundations of modern anthropology

VC Cinéma le Miroir

Centre de la Vieille-Charité - Cinéma le Miroir

Centre de la Vieille Charité
2 rue de la Charité
13002 Marseille

Monday, June 6 2016| 2:30pm to 4:00pm

Michel Lubrano: michel.lubrano[at]
Antonin Macé: antonin.mace[at]


The key-idea of Hobbes’s political anthropology is the idea that a state is not equivalent to a hive, and that it is wrong, therefore, to base political relationships on a natural inclination: unlike bees men have no political instinct that would drive them to form groups; they have passions that produce divisions among them. That is the reason why, unlike Aristotle and political aristotelianism, Hobbes refuses to consider men as political animals, since human nature, as already seen by Epicurus, incites men to prefer their own good to the good of their group. Within such an anthropology, the fact that we live nevertheless in societies is not something obvious, but a major political problem. How come that human beings constitute political bodies, since there have no inclination to it, but only individual passions going against it ? If we end up joining groups, it is because our reason persuade us that associating with others is the best way to satisfy our passions, precisely those passions that turn us into asocial beings. Far from simplifying  the riddle of association, this Hobbesian hypothesis makes it still more complicated: we are now supposed to justify the groups in which we live on the basis that we don’t like to live in societies. That paradox shall serve as a way to think about the importance of Hobbes’s anthropology in modern philosophy, and beyond.