in the Department of Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy Forum: Hobbes’ First Cause

Dr. Thomas Holden

University of California, Santa Barbara

October 15th from 4:00-5:30

in Barnard Observatory, Room 105


“Hobbes maintains that natural human reason can prove the existence of a ‘first cause of all causes.’ But he also maintains that for all natural human reason can tell, the regress of causes might recede to infinity with no beginning at all. I argue that this apparent contradiction dissolves once we take his expressivist interpretation of religious language into account. For Hobbes, the proper function of talk about the divine attributes is not to represent the nature of the deity, but simply to express our own reverence and humility before it. Since this kind of talk is honorific rather than truth-apt, Hobbes can properly speak of the deity as the ‘first cause’ without thereby allowing that there is in fact literally a first cause.”


The format of this event will be a workshop of Dr. Holden’s paper.  Requests for an advance copy of the paper can be directed to Dr. Donovan Wishon (  More information about future UM Philosophy Forum events can be found on the department calendar at