Literature Study GuidesLeviathanPart 3 Chapters 44 47 Summary

Leviathan | Study Guide

Thomas Hobbes

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Leviathan | Part 3, Chapters 44–47 : Of a Christian Commonwealth | Summary



The final chapters of Leviathan are sometimes given their own section under the title "The Kingdom of Darkness." The darkness Thomas Hobbes warns against takes four forms, all of which threaten the age of reason: (1) claiming that the kingdom of God is of this world and that the Church, and not the sovereign, should govern the people; (2) abuse of religious doctrines to manipulate the fears of people for the personal gain and corrupt intent of religious leaders; (3) combining Aristotle's metaphysical philosophy with Christian religion; and (4) adhering to traditions and false doctrines that go against reason. Hobbes enumerates and takes particular issue with what he perceives to be oppressive and corrupt structures within the Catholic Church. Hobbes's comparison of the Catholic Church to the "Kingdom of Fairies" echoes his disdain of the Greek and Roman pagan religions in Chapter 12: "The fairies ... have but one universal king ... Beelzebub, Prince of Demons. The ecclesiastics likewise ... acknowledge but one universal king, the pope."


While some of Thomas Hobbes's anti-Catholic sentiments had crept into earlier parts of Leviathan, they are fully transparent in these final chapters. His boldface rejection of the Pope having any authority in the commonwealth did not endear this book to the Catholic French, but Hobbes may have been more interested in scoring points with Puritans in England. Also, his criticism extends beyond the Catholic Church, warning against any forces—religious or otherwise—that might seek to obstruct reason. Hobbes's long and angry resentment of the Catholic Church peaked when Galileo's desire to publish scientific scholarship threatened the narrow-minded bureaucracy of the Church. Galileo stood trial in 1633, and the verdict at its conclusion was that his writing would be banned by the Church and he would be forced to abjure forever the public assertion of any further scientific theories. Hobbes met Galileo in Florence likely in the mid-1630s and decried the Church's abuse of power in discouraging his brilliant work. This section of Leviathan exposes the Catholic Church as an enemy of reason.

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