chapter  10
16 Pages

A Farewell to Leviathan: Foucault and Hobbes on Power, Sovereignty and War


There are many reasons why Foucault should have been interested in Hobbes, but the most prominent one is their common interest in power-what it means, how it applies to subjects-and their use of the concept of war as a means of understanding power. The discussion of Hobbes appears rather late in Foucault’s intellectual development. Although there is a brief reference to the ‘war of everyone against everyone’ in the 1973 lectures at the Collège de France,1 it is only in the 1976 lectures, entitled ‘Society Must Be Defended’, that the debate is further developed. It comes at a turning point in Foucault’s refl ection on power: after fi ve years of teaching at the Collège de France, where he had been elected in 1970, he felt the need for a retrospective look at his past research, and Hobbes appeared at this stage as the best author to discuss.