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Summer 2017


Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher in the 17th century, was best known for his book Leviathan (1651) and his political views on society.


Thomas Hobbes, born in Westport, England, on April 5, 1588, was known for his views on how humans could thrive in harmony while avoiding the perils and fear of societal conflict. His experience during a time of upheaval in England influenced his thoughts, which he captured in The Elements of Law (1640); De Cive [On the Citizen] (1642) and his most famous work, Leviathan (1651). Hobbes died in 1679.

In Leviathan, written during the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), Hobbes argues for the necessity and natural evolution of the social contract, a social construct in which individuals mutually unite into political societies, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept resultant duties to protect themselves and one another from whatever might come otherwise. He also advocates rule by an absolute sovereign, saying that chaos–and other situations identified with a “state of nature” (a pre-government state in which individuals’ actions are bound only by those individuals’ desires and restraints)–could be averted only by a strong central government, one with the power of the biblical Leviathan (a sea creature), which would protect people from their own selfishness. He also warned of “the war of all against all” (Bellum omnium contra omnes), a motto that went on to greater fame and represented Hobbes’ view of humanity without government.



July 23, 2017