The role of counsel in Hobbes' political thought
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 00:57 by Thomas Alexander Corbin
In all of Thomas Hobbes’ political writings, counsel plays some role. It is either directly explored as a concept, as it is for example in The Elements of Law and Leviathan, or it is used as an instrument of analysis, as it is in Behemoth. Yet, despite this, there is currently no large scale survey of the role counsel plays in Hobbes’ political thought. This thesis aims to address this gap. Counsel is one of several forms of political language Hobbes discusses. Another, more famous form is that of command. Command acts as the forerunner of law and travels downhill from Sovereign to Subjects. One reason for this unidirectional path is that a command imparts obligations upon those commanded and Hobbes’ sovereign cannot be obligated by its subjects. Counsel, unlike command, does not create any form of obligation, and as such, it is not required to travel the same one-way path. Counsel, in other words, is a form of political language which gives subjects a voice to use in communicating with their sovereign. Exploring the role of counsel in Hobbes’ political thought provides us with a more nuanced picture of how Hobbes himself saw the practical operations of the civil society he proposed. Specifically, as this thesis shows, by exploring the role of counsel we are provided with a platform to review both the relationship between sovereign and subject as well as the relationship between morality and politics in Hobbes’ thought.