The central question of the research project concerned the current sovereignty of economy as a theory, a science and a system of praxis. The domination of economy cannot be explained on its own terms, but derives from transformations and relations going back to the Oikonomia of Greco-Roman antiquity as well as Christianity.


The analysis of the founding manifesto of classical theories of sovereignty shows that in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651) refers back to the ancient Greek figure of pater familias in order to transform it fundamentally in terms of economics and politics against the backdrop of the Colonization of “Virginia” and the “Bermudas”. Furthermore, Hobbes undertakes an emblematic economization of the heart: In Chapter 24 of Leviathan he conflates the function of the heart and the circulation of blood within the human body with the sovereign tasks of the sustenance of body politic and the circulation of goods and money in society. Besides, William Harvey, who characterizes the heart as “the household god at the hearth”, Plautus‘ comedy Aulularia and Aristoteles‘ De partibus animalium all play a central role for Hobbes’ valuation of economic circulation, of legal property and heritage in terms of housekeeping and ‘open hearth’.

In the history of economics, John Locke is considered to be the founding father of the idea that the labor of one’s own body and the work of one’s own hands constitutes the natural right of possession of their products. As Iris Därmann showed in her analysis of the Second Treatise of Government (1690) the mythical “Golden Age” on the one hand and the corrupted state of nature on the other are responding to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the cursing of the field based on natural law and colonial expansion in North-America. Locke’s principles of education concerning gentlemen and planters refer back to Xenophon’s and Cato’s habitus of housekeeping.

Related Publications

Iris Därmann, Susanne Frank, Moritz Hinsch, Wolfram R. Keller, Verena Olejniczak Lobsien, Antonio Lucci, Helmut Pfeiffer, Thomas Skowronek, Peter Spahn, Joseph Vogl, Thorsten Welgen and Aloys Winterling, “From the Oikonomia of Classical Antiquity to Our Modern Economy. Literary-theoretical Transformations of Social Models”, in: Space and Knowledge. Topoi Research Group Articles, eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Volume 6 (2016), 306–348