Sreedhar to lecture on Hobbes and Locke

Susanne SreedharThis Wednesday, Prof. Susanne Sreedhar — Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and frequent lecturer in CC203 — will be presenting a talk titled “Hobbes and Locke on Toleration” as part of the Fall 2010 lecture series organized by the Boston University Institute for Philosophy & Religion.

From the event description:

Prominent in common understandings of the philosophical history of toleration sits a familiar story: the 17th century as battleground, with Locke, the champion of individual rights of conscience and proponent of separation of church and state facing off against the dreaded enemy, Hobbes, whose all-powerful Leviathan leaves no space for dissent – political, religious or otherwise. This familiar tale has a happy ending: the victory of the former over the latter paved the way for modern theories of toleration.

Of course, the victor in this tale has been scrutinized as much as he has been venerated; Locke’s theory has received both positive and negative commentary by subsequent readers. Hobbes’s views on toleration, on the other hand, have received little attention in the years since. It is as though Hobbes’s defeat left him unworthy of criticism rather than subject to it. Most contemporary debates about the nature and limits of toleration – and there are many – begin by assuming what Hobbes explicitly denies: namely, that the state should not impose religion on its people. This paper challenges the contours of the familiar story, reframing the received understanding of Hobbes’s position and, thus, disrupting a too-easy telling of his relationship to Locke.

This lecture will take place Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 5:00pm, in Barristers Hall, first floor of the BU School of Law at 765 Commonwealth Avenue.


Prof. Sreedhar is the author of Hobbes on Resistance: Defying the Leviathan, from Cambridge University Press.

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