An UFO called state of nature
on the presence of the modern state of nature before Hobbes
Academic literature is unanimous in recognizing the relevance of Hobbes’s concept of state of nature for modern political philosophy. Many authors, especially under the influence of Leo Strauss and Quentin Skinner, have argued that this concept already existed before Hobbes; specifically, in Thomas Aquinas and the authors of the second scholasticism, strongly influenced by Aquinas. This article shows that this claim is based on an erroneous identification between the modern state of nature, the status legis naturae of Thomas Aquinas and the status naturae purae of late scholastic theology, and challenges the textual evidence advanced by them to prove the pre-existence of the concept. In doing so, it also contributes to better identify the precedents of Hobbes’s state of nature and to elucidate its historical relationship with related, though different scholastic concepts it has been confused with.
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