The relevance of Thomas Hobbes in the 21st century

December 27th, 2007 - 3:07 pm ICT by admin  

By Sanjay Kumar
New Delhi, Dec.27 (ANI): When the English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, wrote Leviathan in the seventeenth century, he changed the face of Western theorizing insofar as the definition and notion of state was concerned. He talked about fear as the basis of the existence of the state.
What does this fear mean in the modern context?
This was the topic of the first lecture series organized by the Indian Economy and Social History Review in New Delhi, which was addressed by the renowned historian and academician, Professor Carlo Ginzburg, the father of micro history.
In the jam packed Stein Auditorium of the India Habitat Centre, intellectuals and academicians were left enthralled by Professor Ginzburg’s discourse on Fear, Reverence, Terror: Reading Hobbes Today.
He avoided talking on terrorism, describing it as a “vague subject, but analyzed the roots of Hobbes’s use of the idea of fear as the basis for the creation of the state.
Hobbes, Ginzburg claimed was a erudite thinker with a deep knowledge of Greek and Roman history.
He said that fear is the basis of the origin of religion and origin of state and fear and reverence converge converge.
Commenting on happenings in the modern world, Ginzburg said: We live in a world where the state spreads terror, and it is a world where a huge leviathan squats and the future does not hold much as the way things are moving it would be a covenant of a wounded.
The globalized world presents a different context from the world that Hobbes saw and experienced in the seventeenth century. However Professor Ginzburg does not see any change in the fear factor that sustains authority.
Talking of the bombing of Baghdad by USA in 2003, he described it as technological terror.
Professor Carlo Ginzburg is well known for brilliant and methodologically innovative explorations into mentalities, art history, literature and social history. He is among the pioneers and practitioners of the genre of micro-history. His The Cheese and the Worms (1980) is an acknowledged classic. His other writings available in English include The Night Battles (1983); The Enigma of Piero (2000); Clues, Myths and the Historical Method (1989); Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (1991); Wooden Eyes, (1998); The Judge and the Historian (1999); History, Rhetoric, and Proof (1999); and No Island is an Island (2000). He is emeritus professor at UCLA.
The lecture was organized by the Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR), which was founded in 1963 by Professor Tapan Raychaudhuri of the Delhi School of Economics. (ANI)

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