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On the Citizen is both the second version of Hobbes’s political theory, a precursor of Leviathan, and part of a scientific project titled “The Elements of Philosophy.” The chapter disentangles how the work relates to these different contexts. It examines the development of Hobbes’s political thinking by comparing On the Citizen with an earlier text (The Elements of Law), giving particular attention to his discussions of the state of nature, the political covenant, and governmental accountability. Turning to the second context, the chapter tracks the evolution of Hobbes’s thinking away from purely formal, definitional science. On the Citizen lays out the problem of the contestability of foundational concepts in moral and political philosophy and tries out a solution in the form of a concept of “right reason.” Alongside that ultimately unsatisfactory line of thinking, Hobbes also advances an empirical approach to science of a more political nature. As indicated by the title, On the Citizen was framed to cover political subjects, an empirical focus that propelled Hobbes’s development as a political theorist. Leviathan is a master work in political theory because it was preceded by On the Citizen.
An exciting English-language edition which for the first time presents Thomas Hobbes's masterpiece Leviathan alongside two earlier works, The Elements of Law and De Cive. By arranging the three texts side by side, Baumgold offers readers an enhanced understanding of Hobbes's political theory and addresses an important need within Hobbes scholarship. The parallel presentation highlights substantive connections between the texts and makes it easy to trace the development of Hobbes's thinking. Readers can follow developments both at the 'micro' level of specific arguments and at the 'macro' level of the overall scope and organization of the theory. The volume also includes parallel presentations of Hobbes's chapter outlines, which serve as a key to the texts and are collected in a précis appendix.