Fantasy, Counter-fantasy, and Meta fantasy in Hobbes's and Butler's Accounts of Vulnerability


PHILOSOPHY TODAY, vol.64, no.3, pp.617-636, 2020 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 64 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.5840/philtoday2020810345
  • Journal Name: PHILOSOPHY TODAY
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ATLA Religion Database, Humanities Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Philosopher's Index, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.617-636


Hobbes and Butler both conjure images of an abandoned infant in their respective discussions of vulnerability. Leviathan uses this image to discuss original dominion, or natural maternal right over the child, while for Butler rights discourse produces fantasies of invulnerability that derealize other lives. However, Hobbes's infant in nature has no rights and can only consent to being nourished. Only when able to nourish itself can it claim rights to transfer through the covenant producing a fantasy of individual invulnerability. Vulnerability in the state of nature and the commonwealth's fantasy of invulnerability are together a counter-fantasy to the fantasies of invulnerability of Hobbes's time, through heaven or eternal glory. In question is whether Butler in her reimagining of community, is, like Hobbes, producing a fantasy but a meta-fantasy that community can be taken as fantasy without derealizing the fantastic or that fantasizes an honesty about its being fantasy.