Traditionally, there is a tendency to conceive of Hobbes as the champion of absolutism, while Spinoza is numbered among the founding fathers of political liberalism. Be that as it may, the aim of this paper is to underline the complexity of that widespread belief. To do so, I focus on the role that the question of miracles plays in both Hobbes’ and Spinoza’s works. On the whole, I strongly believe that, as far as the political debate of the XVII century is concerned, religious commitments represent not only an applicative field but also a theoretical background. I start by presenting Hobbes’s position on miracles. I show that, although he is forced to acknowledge a certain space for private freedom of thought, this admission itself will lead to a paradoxical result undermining the authority of the Leviathan as a whole. Secondly, I show that, in the TTP, Spinoza makes use of different Hobbesian arguments on miracles and authority by shifting the boundary between private and public. In conclusion, I contend that it is not misguided to conceive of Spinoza as one of the first advocates of the freedom of thought as a cornerstone of governmental authority. However, I also argue that the strong commitment expressed by Hobbes to a certain degree of laicisation of the Commonwealth has to be regarded as a consequence of the political liberalism embedded in it by Hobbes himself.
Keywords: Hobbes, Spinoza, miracles, liberalism, freedom of thought, laicism