thomas hobbes


  • Nevertheless, many (though not all) elements of Hobbes’s political thought were unchanged between The Elements of Law and Leviathan, which demonstrates that the events of
    the English Civil War had little effect on his contractarian methodology.

  • [26] The only consequence that came of the bill was that Hobbes could never thereafter publish anything in England on subjects relating to human conduct.

  • [23] Also, the printing of the greater work proceeded, and finally appeared in mid-1651, titled Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Common Wealth, Ecclesiastical
    and Civil.

  • A different set of remarks on other works by Descartes succeeded only in ending all correspondence between the two.

  • The description contains what has been called one of the best-known passages in English philosophy, which describes the natural state humankind would be in, were it not for
    political community:[34] In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious
    building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent
    death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

  • Other writings were not made public until after his death, including Behemoth: the History of the Causes of the Civil Wars of England and of the Counsels and Artifices by
    which they were carried on from the year 1640 to the year 1662.

  • Although it seems that much of The Elements of Law was composed before the sitting of the Short Parliament, there are polemical pieces of the work that clearly mark the influences
    of the rising political crisis.

  • He then returned to hard work on the first two sections of his work and published little except a short treatise on optics (Tractatus opticus), included in the collection
    of scientific tracts published by Mersenne as Cogitata physico-mathematica in 1644.

  • Like John Locke, he also stated that true revelation can never disagree with human reason and experience,[49] although he also argued that people should accept revelation
    and its interpretations for the reason that they should accept the commands of their sovereign, in order to avoid war.

  • [16] Although he did associate with literary figures like Ben Jonson and briefly worked as Francis Bacon’s amanuensis, translating several of his Essays into Latin,[9] he
    did not extend his efforts into philosophy until after 1629.

  • In addition to publishing some controversial writings on mathematics, including disciplines like geometry, Hobbes also continued to produce philosophical works.

  • As perhaps the first clear exposition of the psychological doctrine of determinism, Hobbes’s own two pieces were important in the history of the free-will controversy.

  • That same year, on 17 October 1666, it was ordered that the committee to which the bill was referred “should be empowered to receive information touching such books as tend
    to atheism, blasphemy and profaneness… in particular… the book of Mr. Hobbes called the Leviathan.

  • [17] However, by the end of the Short Parliament in 1640, he had written a short treatise called The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic.

  • [46] In more recent times also, much has been made of his religious views by scholars such as Richard Tuck and J. G. A. Pocock, but there is still widespread disagreement
    about the exact significance of Hobbes’s unusual views on religion.

  • [9] His scholarly efforts at the time were aimed at a careful study of classic Greek and Latin authors, the outcome of which was, in 1628, his great translation of Thucydides’
    History of the Peloponnesian War,[10] the first translation of that work into English from a Greek manuscript.

  • [47] In this extended early modern sense of atheism, Hobbes did take positions that strongly disagreed with church teachings of his time.

  • Although it was initially only circulated privately, it was well received, and included lines of argumentation that were repeated a decade later in Leviathan.

  • [20] Frontispiece from De Cive (1642) The company of the exiled royalists led Hobbes to produce Leviathan, which set forth his theory of civil government in relation to the
    political crisis resulting from the war.

  • This particular view owes its significance to it being first developed in the 1630s when Charles I had sought to raise revenues without the consent of Parliament, and therefore
    of his subjects.

  • In this appendix, Hobbes aimed to show that, since the High Court of Commission had been put down, there remained no court of heresy at all to which he was amenable, and that
    nothing could be heresy except opposing the Nicene Creed, which, he maintained, Leviathan did not do.

  • [4] He is considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy.

  • Line engraving by William Faithorne, 1668 In 1658, Hobbes published the final section of his philosophical system, completing the scheme he had planned more than 20 years

  • Beginning from a mechanistic understanding of human beings and their passions, Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the
    state of nature.

  • This was perhaps a reflection either of Hobbes’s thoughts about the engagement controversy or of his reaction to treatises published by Patriarchalists, such as Sir Robert
    Filmer, between 1640 and 1651.

  • [21] The first effect of its publication was to sever his link with the exiled royalists, who might well have killed him.

  • An answer to a book published by Dr. Bramhall, late bishop of Derry; called the Catching of the leviathan.

  • In Paris, he rejoined the coterie around Mersenne and wrote a critique of the Meditations on First Philosophy of Descartes, which was printed as third among the sets of “Objections”
    appended, with “Replies” from Descartes, in 1641.

  • [32] It is perhaps also important to note that Hobbes extrapolated his mechanistic understanding of nature into the social and political realm, making him a progenitor of
    the term ‘social structure.’

  • “[7] Hobbes had a brother, Edmund, about two years older, as well as a sister, Anne.

  • In the Elements of Law, Hobbes provided a cosmological argument for the existence of God, saying that God is “the first cause of all causes”.

  • The results of his investigation were first announced in three short Dialogues added as an Appendix to his Latin translation of Leviathan, published in Amsterdam in 1668.

  • Human Nature: or The fundamental Elements of Policie • Includes first thirteen chapters of The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic • Published without Hobbes’s authorisation
    • 1650.

  • The work closed with a general “Review and Conclusion”, in response to the war, which answered the question: Does a subject have the right to change allegiance when a former
    sovereign’s power to protect is irrevocably lost?

  • [20] In 1647, Hobbes took up a position as mathematical instructor to the young Charles, Prince of Wales, who had come to Paris from Jersey around July.

  • Aside from social contract theory, Leviathan also popularized ideas such as the state of nature (“war of all against all”) and laws of nature.

  • [33] Much of the book is occupied with demonstrating the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid the evil of discord and civil war.

  • [21][41] Bramhall, a strong Arminian, had met and debated with Hobbes and afterwards wrote down his views and sent them privately to be answered in this form by Hobbes.

  • It has been argued that three of the discourses in the 1620 publication known as Horae Subsecivae: Observations and Discourses also represent the work of Hobbes from this

  • From this follows the view that no individual can hold rights of property against the sovereign, and that the sovereign may therefore take the goods of its subjects without
    their consent.

  • As Martinich has pointed out, in Hobbes’s time the term “atheist” was often applied to people who believed in God but not in divine providence, or to people who believed in
    God but also maintained other beliefs that were considered to be inconsistent with such belief or judged incompatible with orthodox Christianity.

  • Elements of Law, Natural and Politic • Initially circulated only in handwritten copies; without Hobbes’s permission, the first printed edition would be in 1650.

  • [20] Hobbes also extended his own works in a way, working on the third section, De Cive, which was finished in November 1641.

  • His scheme was first to work out, in a separate treatise, a systematic doctrine of body, showing how physical phenomena were universally explicable in terms of motion, at
    least as motion or mechanical action was then understood.

  • [17] Hobbes’s first area of study was an interest in the physical doctrine of motion and physical momentum.

  • Hobbes compared the State to a monster (leviathan) composed of men, created under pressure of human needs and dissolved by civil strife due to human passions.

  • Elements of Philosophy, The First Section, Concerning Body – anonymous English translation of De Corpore • 1656.

  • However, the arguments in Leviathan were modified from The Elements of Law when it came to the necessity of consent in creating political obligation: Hobbes wrote in The Elements
    of Law that Patrimonial kingdoms were not necessarily formed by the consent of the governed, while in Leviathan he argued that they were.

  • Philosophicall Rudiments concerning Government and Society – English translation of De Cive[62] • 1651.

  • [20] Civil War Period (1642–1651)[edit] The English Civil War began in 1642, and when the royalist cause began to decline in mid-1644, many royalists came to Paris and were
    known to Hobbes.

  • Three Papers Presented to the Royal Society Against Dr. Wallis.

  • [21] Bramhall countered in 1655, when he printed everything that had passed between them (under the title of A Defence of the True Liberty of Human Actions from Antecedent
    or Extrinsic Necessity).

  • This all led mathematicians to target him for polemics and sparked John Wallis to become one of his most persistent opponents.

  • 14–19 of Elements, Part One (1640) • “De Corpore Politico”, Elements, Part Two (1640) • 1651.

  • He says that this “sort of discrepancy has led to many errors in determining who was an atheist in the early modern period”.

  • [21] Hobbes appealed to the revolutionary English government for protection and fled back to London in winter 1651.

  • [42] John Wallis[edit] Further information: Hobbes–Wallis controversy Hobbes opposed the existing academic arrangements, and assailed the system of the original universities
    in Leviathan.

  • [9] Hobbes rejected one of the most famous theses of Aristotle’s politics, namely that human beings are naturally suited to life in a polis and do not fully realize their
    natures until they exercise the role of citizen.

  • Finally, he considered, in his crowning treatise, how Men were moved to enter into society, and argued how this must be regulated if people were not to fall back into “brutishness
    and misery”.

  • A Dialogue between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of England (publ.

  • [21] From the time of the Restoration, he acquired a new prominence; “Hobbism” became a byword for all that respectable society ought to denounce.

  • [9] The main practical conclusion of Hobbes’s political theory is that state or society cannot be secure unless at the disposal of an absolute sovereign.

  • After returning to England from France in 1641, Hobbes witnessed the destruction and brutality of the English Civil War from 1642 to 1651 between Parliamentarians and Royalists,
    which heavily influenced his advocacy for governance by an absolute sovereign in Leviathan, as the solution to human conflict and societal breakdown.

  • [21] In 1651, the translation of De Cive was published under the title Philosophical Rudiments concerning Government and Society.

  • [9] At university, Thomas Hobbes appears to have followed his own curriculum as he was little attracted by the scholastic learning.


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or transferred. As first a man cannot lay down the right of resisting them, that assault him by force, to take away his life; because he cannot be understood to ayme thereby, at any Good to himselfe. The same may be sayd of Wounds, and Chayns, and
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Timothy Raylor, Franco Giudice, Stephen Clucas, and Noel Malcolm vote for Robert Payne. Karl Schuhmann, Cees Leijenhorst, Guilherme Rodrigues Neto, and Frank Horstmann vote for Thomas Hobbes. On arguments pro Payne see Timothy Raylor, Hobbes, Payne,
and ‘A Short Tract on First Principles’ (The Historical Journal, 44, 2001, pp. 29–58) and Noel Malcolm, Robert Payne, the Hobbes Manuscripts, and the ‘Short Tract’ (in: Aspects of Hobbes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 80–145). On
arguments pro Hobbes see Karl Schuhmann, Le ‘Short Tract’, première oeuvre philosophique de Hobbes (Hobbes Studies, 8, 1995, pp. 3-36.) and Frank Horstmann, Der Grauvließer. Robert Payne und Thomas Hobbes als Urheber des ‘Short Tract’ (Berlin:
epubli, 2020, ISBN 978-3-752952-92-6.)
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Hobbes”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy. 6 (1): 115. doi:10.1080/09608789808570984. p. 118.
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(Skinner affirms Schuhmann’s view: p. 4, fn. 27.)
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10 March 2023. (Provides a summary of this confusing episode, as well as most relevant literature. p. 48 n. 13)
58. ^ Hobbes, Thomas. 1639. Tractatus opticus II. vis British Library, Harley MS 6796, ff. 193–266.
59. ^ First complete edition: 1963.
For this dating, see the convincing arguments given by: Horstmann, Frank. 2006. Nachträge zu Betrachtungen über Hobbes’ Optik. Berlin: Mackensen. ISBN 978-3-926535-51-1. pp. 19–94.
60. ^ A critical analysis of Thomas White (1593–1676) De mundo
dialogi tres, Parisii, 1642.
61. ^ Hobbes, Thomas. 1646. A Minute or First Draught of the Optiques via Harley MS 3360.
62. ^ Modern scholars are divided as to whether or not this translation was done by Hobbes. For a pro-Hobbes account see H.
Warrender’s introduction to De Cive: The English Edition in The Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes (Oxford, 1984). For the contra-Hobbes account see Noel Malcolm, “Charles Cotton, Translator of Hobbes’s De Cive” in Aspects of Hobbes
(Oxford, 2002)
63. ^ critical edition: Court traité des premiers principes, text, French translation and commentary by Jean Bernhardt, Paris: PUF, 1988
• “Hinduism” to “Home, Earls of” at Project Gutenberg
• This
article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Robertson, George Croom; Anonymous texts (1911). “Hobbes, Thomas”. In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 545–552.

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