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Article: Glory and the Evolution of Hobbes’s Disagreement Theory of War: From Elements to Leviathan

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Abstract: The centrality of glory, contempt, and revengefulness to Leviathan’s account of war is highlighted by three contextual features: Hobbes’s displacement of the traditional conception of glory as intrinsically intersubjective and comparative; his incorporation of the Aristotelian view that revengefulness is provoked by expressions of mere contempt; and the evolution of his account between 1640 and 1651. An archeology of Leviathan’s famous chapter thirteen confirms that Hobbes’s thesis throughout his career was that disagreement is the universal cause of war because prickly, glory-seeking humans view its expression as a sign of contempt: although Leviathan abandons Hobbes’s previous argument that war is primarily rooted in vainglorious individuals pursuing domination, Leviathan’s ‘glory’ argument for war is a descendent of the older ‘comparison’, not ‘vanity’, argument.

Image: Cromwell Battle of Naseby 1645 (Charles Landseer 1851, Alte Nationalgalerie)


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