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2020 Vol. 11 № 3

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The concept “people” in the modern European political thought: Hobbes, Spinoza, Pufendorf

10.5922/ 2225-5346-2020-3-1


The author considers the evolution of the concept “people” in the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf and Benedict Spinoza. The political thought of Europe in the 17th century demonstrates a conscious turn from the medieval scholastic tradition of thinking about people and power. Politics begins to be thought of as a complex of human ac­tions aimed at achieving certain human goals. This, in turn, leads to the rationalisation of politics and, as a consequence, to the rejection of one of the most powerful mystical and theo­logical abstractions of the late Middle Ages — the concept “people” as a kind of mystical body. Protestant science makes a clear choice in favour of interpreting the concept as an “arti­ficial person”. The author emphasizes that the introduction of the concept “natural state” led to changes in the ontological status of people in political theory. The concept “people” becomes “a flickering subject” that appears during the transition from a natural state to a civil one and disappears when the transition goes in the opposite direction. In a civil state, people become an active subject when they perform the function of the legislator. In other cases, people as a political subject transform into a certain multitude, consisting of separate individuals.


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