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Hobbes on Persona, Personation, and Representation: Behind the Mask of Sovereignty

Simendic, Marko (2011) Hobbes on Persona, Personation, and Representation: Behind the Mask of Sovereignty. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis explores Thomas Hobbes’s idea of a person and personation. More particularly, it aims to uncover what it means for Hobbes to (re)conceptualise political representation as “bearing” of a certain person. This is especially important because Hobbes uses this notion to describe the relationship between the sovereign and their subjects. There are three aspects to the research undertaken. Firstly, this account discusses a number of intellectual sources that Hobbes relied on in crafting his idea of a person. To this end the thesis tackles Cicero’s conception of persona as well as various legal and theological sources that have marked the medieval development of this idea. The second aspect of the thesis deals with Hobbes’s definition of a person and its relationship with his definition of the state. Here it is argued that the contemporary commentators have misread Hobbes’s definition of a person and mistakenly identified Hobbes’s commonwealth with it. In response, this thesis offers a more sophisticated definition of a person and places the Hobbesian “person of the state” in its proper place: as the defining, although not the only element of the commonwealth. The third aspect of the thesis addresses the role of Hobbes’s account of representation in his wider political theory. This role is twofold. Firstly, personation describes the relationship between a number of principal agents in Hobbes’s political philosophy: God, the sovereign(s) and the subjects. Secondly, the theatrical nature of Hobbesian personation might suggest another way of approaching Hobbes’s political theory. This is a multi-perspectival approach that conceptualises human agency and mutual interaction as inseparable from its perception. The concluding part of the thesis deals with the way in which the three dimensions of Hobbes’s account come together and form a potent argument in favour of absolute and unitary authority.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Hobbes person persona personation representation
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.547335
Depositing User: Mr Marko Simendic
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2011 12:54
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 12:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1986

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