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Made with Words:
Hobbes on Language, Mind, and Politics
Philip Pettit

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF format]


"In this brief, clearly written book, Pettit argues that Hobbes believes language is a human invention. With language comes the ability to imaginatively project oneself into the future, to reason, and to contract and coordinate with others. . . . Thus, Pettit maintains that Hobbes's state of nature is not and cannot be precultural, but is rather a condition in which people have culture and language but no government. An interesting implication of Pettit's view is that the common interpretation of Hobbes--that people's selfish untamed nature leads to social conflict--is mistaken: the invention of language and subsequent warping of people's desires are what ultimately cause conflict in the state of nature."--J. H. Spense, Adrian College, for CHOICE

"Philip Pettit is pre-eminent among political philosophers for integrating the study of language, of human nature and of such things as the nature of rules an meaning. He has found a kindred spirit in Thomas Hobbes and has written an enjoyable and generous account of Hobbes' remarkably prescient explorations of similar themes. . . . Beautifully clear, consistently interesting."--Simon Blackburn, Times Higher Education

"Despite its brevity, this book is dense in its arguments, filled with trenchant phrases, and effective in its recreation of Hobbes' theory as grounded on the invention of language and thereby reason, the bright side of language."--Arlene W. Saxonhouse, European Legacy

"Mr. Pettit's brief, incisive study will arouse the attention of political philosophers as well as historians and linguists."--Arnd Bohm, Scriblerian

"By inserting Hobbes' philosophy of language into the heart of his theory of human nature and politics, Pettit has not only decisively closed the gap between two usually far too distinct scholarly domains, but he has also adverted to the major concern with language that preoccupied early-modern philosophers in general."--Hannah Dawson, Hobbes Studies


"Philip Pettit is a major figure in political theory and an important voice in philosophy in general. He has an astonishing range, and in this book he expands it still further. More than a mere introduction, Made with Words offers a coherent and well-argued picture of most of the main components of Hobbes's wide-ranging philosophy. It is for providing a sense of the sweep of Hobbes's philosophy as an integrated system that readers will be most indebted to Pettit. A book of bracing clarity and interest, it will help students to consider Hobbes carefully and it will encourage scholars to reconsider him."--Kinch Hoekstra, University of Oxford

"This is an elegant and persuasive account of Hobbes's philosophy in the whole, from one of our leading political philosophers. Because the writing is so clear and lively, and the scholarship worn with relative ease, it will appeal to a wide readership."--Duncan Ivison, University of Sydney

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File created: 4/21/2017

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