, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 201-205
Date: 25 Aug 2010

Perez Zagorin, Hobbes and the Law of Nature

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Hobbes and the Law of Nature is the final book of eminent intellectual historian Perez Zagorin, who died in 2009, the year of its publication. Hobbes is renowned for his clarity, and yet his teaching remains controversial in some of its most important respects. Zagorin left us with an admirable attempt at a cohesive account of Hobbes’s political philosophy, which he approaches by way of Hobbes’s doctrine of natural law.

As Zagorin notes in his preface, “few people today ... have any knowledge or awareness of the concept of the law of nature or natural law in its relation to morality, law, or politics.” Natural law is almost universally rejected “as an idealistic concept founded on the philosophical and religious assumption that nature and the universe as a divine creation of the eternal God are mindful of mankind and repositories of purpose, norms, and meanings based on right reason that include the principles of morality for human beings” (ix). Zagorin’s justification for writing the b ...