Hobbes’s materialism and Epicurean mechanism

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ABSTRACT: Hobbes belonged to philosophical and scientific circles grappling with the big question at the dawn of modern physics: materialism and its consequences for morality. ‘Matter in motion’ may be a core principle of this materialism but it is certainly inadequate to capture the whole project. In wave after wave of this debate the Epicurean view of a fully determined universe governed by natural laws, that nevertheless allows to humans a sphere of libertas, but does not require a creator god or teleology to explain it, comes up against monotheism and its insistence on the incoherence of an ordered world in the absence of a God and his purposes. The following questions were central to this debate: Can we understand the universe as law-governed in the absence of a god? If so, what room is there in a fully determined mechanical universe for human freedom? If humans do enjoy freedom, does the same hold for other animals? Is this freedom compatible with standard views of morality?
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First archival date: 2017-08-16
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