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Arbitrary RuleSlavery, Tyranny, and the Power of Life and Death$
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Mary Nyquist

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226015538

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226015675.001.0001

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Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

(p.257) CHAPTER EIGHT Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism
Arbitrary Rule

Mary Nyquist

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes early modern visual and textual conventions that project New World and African societies into a precivil past. In diverse print and visual media, identifiable conventions, such as rhetorical iteration suggesting privation, erasure of social institutions and of history, figures such as the Amazons, scenarios featuring the practice of human sacrifice, and, generally, indications that force rather than persuasion holds sway, signify the precivil character of the society in question. Taken together, they enable Europe to position itself vis-a-vis what the author refers to as the privative age—privative signifying the prepolitical absence of the privileges and stabilizing order associated with the public arena in Greco-Roman traditions. The final section of the chapter focuses on the frontispieces designed for De Cive over a period that begins in 1642 and extends into the early stages of the Commonwealth.

Keywords:   precivil past, African societies, privative age, prepolitical absence, Greco-Roman traditions, De Cive, Commonwealth

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