The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.


The universities were a consistent preoccupation in Thomas Hobbes's political writings. In several ways his views on them remained consistent, most notably with respect of their vital role in forming political opinion and of the sovereign's consequent duty to watch over them carefully. But in other respects Hobbes's relations with the schools developed markedly over his career, in parallel, it is suggested, with his increasingly explicit disgust at Presbyterianism. The controversial forty-sixth chapter of Leviathan (1651) is at the heart of Hobbes's critique of the universities and of the school philosophy they taught; it is shown to be a satirical riposte to a well-established academic genre (favoured particularly by Presbyterian authors) praising the antiquity, utility, and necessity of the schools. This account of Hobbes's quarrel with the schools sheds light on one of the key issues in the history of early modern philosophical personae: how a self-conscious 'novator' such as Hobbes positioned himself in relation to the dominant late Aristotelian philosophical culture of the universities

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