ISSN:2238-6408 (online)
Dirk Brantl - University of Graz

ABSTRACT: The stability of political systems permeates not only Hobbes‟ political theory, but also his ethical, legal, and historical thought. One specific problem in this context, and one his contemporaries took more seriously than current Hobbes scholarship, is the consequences Hobbes‟ mechanistic natural philosophy has for his practical philosophy. As human beings are as strictly determined as any other animate or inanimate object, the very notion of responsibility which lies at the heart of moral and political theory, seems to be defeated. The orthodox interpretation long held the view that Hobbes‟s solution to the problem was simply to argue that to counter a strong antisocial impulse all you need (and can) do is to produce an even stronger impulse to be social. Thus it has been argued that the threat of punishment is the glue that holds Hobbesian societies together.In Behemoth, however, Hobbes argues strongly not for violent passions, but for false opinions as the cause of the English civil war. Already from the Elements onwards, Hobbes puts an immense weight on opinions. The remedy of epistemic defects is at the center of the duties of a sovereign. Making people understand the notions of law and punishment, of authority and society via education is more important than the direct interference with people‟s desires via the threat of punishment. Accordingly, I will argue that while threat of punishment is an important aspect of Hobbes‟ solution to creating political stability, political education plays an equally central, if often underestimated role.

KEY WORDS: Authority, Education, Free Will