Noel Malcolm on Hobbes

Noel Malcolm’s monumental 2,355 page edition of Leviathan is rightly attracting attention well beyond philosophical circles. And you can read Malcolm’s chapter on Oakeshott’s Hobbes in the forthcoming A Companion to Michael Oakeshott.

But things are looking up for the Monster, thanks to the labours of Noel Malcolm, a polymath at All Souls College, Oxford, and a former journalist and commentator. In the 1990s Dr Malcolm transformed the study of Hobbes by assembling and annotating his surviving correspondence. Dr Malcolm seems to have read, and judiciously assessed, everything that may be relevant to everything that may be relevant (this includes graveyard inscriptions, so it can fairly be said that he leaves no stone unturned). He has now published the first fully critical edition of “Leviathan”, including the different, and shorter, Latin version, which Hobbes published some 17 years after the English text that anglophone students of politics study to this day. Anyone who wonders why Hobbes used the name of a biblical sea-beast that was traditionally identified with the devil to refer to the state, or commonwealth, “to which…we owe our peace and defence”, will find the obscure but likeliest solution to this puzzle, and others, uncovered here.