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~o6 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29:2 APRIL 1991 with immoderate characterizations such as "ludicrous," "dishonest scholarship," and "scholarly fantasy." And so for Steinberg, obsessed as he is with his crusade, it turns out that Hobbes is not really a political philosopher or theorist at all, but a polemicist, an ironist, an allegorist, who "was engaged in a polemical mode of reasoning in which he manipulates the literal sense of words to convey a variety of figurative meanings, all of which are associated with the English Civil War" (18). Thus, the state of nature is not part of an argument for the necessity of government, but an allegory of England's fall into civil war. Similarly, the rights of nature, the laws of nature, the social covenant, and Hobbes's scientific claims are all reduced to ideological maneuvers. The Hobbes that emerges from this vehemently overzealous book is merely a long-winded Anglican apologist who cannot be taken at his word, a constructor of "figurative puzzles" (25) requiring ideological decoding. Steinberg is indeed usefully sensitive to those places where Hobbes's texts have relevance to those he wished to counteract. Had he been more aware of the legitimate issues involved in the textualist/contextualist debate, Steinberg might have produced a valuable study of Hobbes's engagement with his ideological foes. As it is, the best parts of the book are three appendices: the first a detailed critique of Macpherson (though this is now rather flailing a long-dead horse); the second a careful criticism of Skinner's attempt to link Leviathan to the engagement controversy of 1649; and the last an original and speculative study of affinities between Hobbes's views and those of Plato's Laws, an interesting and neglected topic. Here one gets the impression that Steinberg believes there is a good deal more in Hobbes than Anglican propaganda. It is a shame the body of the book is not equally balanced. PAUL J. JOHNSON California State University, San Bernardino W. M. Spellman. John Locke and the Problem of Depravity. New York: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1988. Pp. viii + 244- $49.95. This excellent study offers a developmental view of how John Locke's awareness of the doctrine of original sin, or the problem of depravity, influenced his theory of human thought and acdon. W. M. Spellman's revisionist approach does not try to situate Locke's views in a movement towards deistical optimism, but on the contrary explores how Locke's ideas of depravity are sympathetic to Pauline and Augustinian orthodoxy and, closer to his own day, Cambridge Platonism and latitudinarianism. Spellman also shows how these two intellectual phenomena subtly mediate between theories of total depravity and moral perfectibility. The first chapter discusses traditional meanings of original sin, especially in the Augustinian and Pelagian contexts, and argues that Anglican and Puritan views on the subject do not necessarily conflict. The second chapter details various themes in Locke's early writings, such as the desire for political stability, interest in natural law, pessimism about human obedience to reason, and the necessity of moral action in the BOOK REVIEWS 307 world. The third chapter offers a brilliant summary of Cambridge Platonism and latitudinarianism as they apply to this study. During the 167os, Spellman writes, Locke came to share with these intellectual movements "not only their desire for toleration, but also the doctrine of the minimal creed and the argument that conduct lay at the heart of Christianity" (87). Like them also, Locke "remained within the camp of Pauline orthodoxy by refusing to entertain the notion that man's rational faculties had been left unimpaired by the fall" (95). The fourth chapter interprets Locke's Essay concerningHuman Understanding to conclude that "our ability to procure actual knowledge in this our temporal state [is] extremely limited" (t 15); Spellman's point takes force from the context of weakened human nature that he develops. The fifth chapter deals with The Reasonablenessof Christiani~ and characterizes its author as "very different from the myth of Locke as the inaugurator of the Age of Reason" 052). The sixth chapter discusses critics of the Essay, and the seventh compares and contrasts Locke's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 306-308
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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