Words and Things in the Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes
Often cited in modern scholarship as an ‘ultra- or supernominalist’, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was notorious in his own day for arguing that ‘True and False are attributes of Speech, not of Things. And where Speech is not, there is neither Truth nor Falshood.’ Hobbes’s insistence on a linguistic account of truth was widely perceived by his contemporaries to undermine scientific, religious, and moral distinctions, which purportedly depended on a natural connection between propositions and the intrinsic nature of things in the world. But it is evident that Hobbes himself saw this nominalist theory of propositions as a source of stability, capable of resolving perennial sites of philosophical confusion with geometric rigour. The aim of this project is to unpick Hobbes’s philosophy of language from its controversial reception, and identify his own intentions in advancing such a doctrine.