The other ‘Hobbes’ people’: An alternative reading of Hobbes
This paper argues that while Hobbes has been very influential in sociological thinking, in particular through the influence of Ferdinand Tönnies and Talcott Parsons, there is an important alternative reading of Hobbes that one might call the ‘real’ Hobbes, which has remained unknown to social theory. Because these classical readings of Hobbes still inform most social theory, sociologists are in effect trapped within them. Through a careful analysis of classic interpretations of Hobbes by Tönnies and Parsons, coupled with a close reading of Hobbes’ actual texts, and his criticisms of Aristotle, this paper will suggest that a different understanding of the ‘people’ who populate Hobbes’ social universe is possible. It will be suggested that this new understanding of Hobbes also makes the contemporary understanding of the history of political philosophy more fruitful for theoretical sociology.