Thomas Hobbes and secrecy

Marshall, A (2019) Thomas Hobbes and secrecy. In: Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury Society Lecture, 29 November 2019, Malmesbury, UK.


Hobbes remarks that an essential part of the duties of those who wish to rule over states was: "To be warned, and to be forearmed", for the "defence of the City". He then remarked that the use of "discoverers to Ministers of State… [are] like the beames of the Sunne to the humane soule, and we may more truly say in vision politicall, then naturall, that the sensible, and intelligible Species of outward things, not well considered by others, are by the ayre transported to the soule, (that is to say to them who have the Supreme Authority) and therefore are they no lesse necessary to the preservation of the State, then the rayes of the light are to the conservation of man; or if they be compared to Spiders webs, which extended on all sides by the finest thre[a]ds, doe warn them, keeping in their small holds, of all outward motions”. 'Leviathan' also gives advice on counsel and the need for counsellors to be acquainted with such intelligencer and to have what Hobbes called "a deep knowledge" to enable such advice to be given. While the work 'Elements of the Law' particularly praises Venice for committing state affairs to the few- and as Hobbes noted in 'Leviathan' "Deliberations" ought to be kept secret as the "Counsells of many … are dangerous". The paper reflects on these points and shows how they can be linked into the modern attitudes and discussions about secrecy in government and the use of espionage.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Keywords: Hobbes, political theory, secrecy, espionage
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2022 15:18
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2022 15:18
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