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The New Leviathans

The New Leviathans

Thoughts After Liberalism

Summary

'One of the most important thinkers alive' The Times
'Britain's best philosopher' The Telegraph

Ever since its publication in 1651, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan has unsettled and challenged how we understand the world. Condemned and vilified by each new generation, Hobbes' cold political vision continues to see through any number of political and ethical vanities.

In his wonderfully stimulating book The New Leviathans, John Gray allows us to understand the world of the 2020s with all its contradictions, moral horrors and disappointments through a new reading of Hobbes' classic work. The collapse of the USSR ushered in an era of near-apoplectic triumphalism in the West: a genuine belief that a rational, liberal, well-managed future now awaited humankind and that tyranny, nationalism and unreason lay in the past. Since then, so many terrible events have occurred and so many poisonous ideas flourished, and yet still our liberal certainties treat them as aberrations which will somehow dissolve away. Hobbes would not be so confident.

Filled with fascinating and challenging perceptions, The New Leviathans is a powerful meditation on historical and current folly. As a species we always seem to be struggling to face the reality of base and delusive human instincts. Might a more self-aware, realistic and disabused ethics help us all?

Reviews

  • A timely meditation on the passing of the liberal age, and on the life and afterlives of its grandfather, Thomas Hobbes. Composed with Gray’s characteristic erudition and taste for the ironies of intellectual history, The New Leviathans is a provocative delight, even as the author’s premonitions about the world to come are thoroughly discomfiting.
    Sohrab Ahmari, New Statesman

About the author

John Gray

John Gray is a political philosopher, whose books include Seven Types of Atheism, Straw Dogs, Black Mass, The Soul of the Marionette, The Silence of Animals and Feline Philosophy. He now principally writes for the New Statesman.
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