Read Thy Self: Selfhood and Self Knowledge in the Works of Thomas Hobbes
My research is in the role that self-knowledge plays in the work of Thomas Hobbes, in particular in his masterpiece of political philosophy, Leviathan. Though I am focussing on Leviathan, my work requires engaging more comprehensively with his oeuvre than is typical of Hobbes scholarship, which is usually fragmented both along disciplinary lines, and also with regard to the areas of Hobbes’ texts that are focused on. While the ultimate goal of Hobbes’ shift in self-understanding is undoubtedly political, the path to this goal takes a more circuitous route, encompassing areas of Hobbes’ thought as diverse as his eschatology, his theory of personation, his first philosophy, and many more. Beyond Hobbes himself, I wish to contextualise his thought by exploring late 16th and early 17th century notions of self-knowledge within late scholastic and humanist texts. My project also seeks to engage with and challenge the still dominant Burckhardtian narrative of the Renaissance as the birth of the modern notion of the “self” and of modern ideas about subjectivity. Through this I aim to enhance and refine our understanding of the development of early modern notions of selfhood, and of the relationship between political authority and personal identity more generally.