THOMAS HOBBES (/hɒbz/ ; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679), in some older texts THOMAS HOBBES OF MALMESBURY, was an English philosopher who is considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy . Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book _ Leviathan _, which established the social contract theory that has served as the foundation for most later Western political philosophy. In addition to political philosophy, Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history , jurisprudence , geometry , the physics of gases , theology , ethics , and general philosophy.
Though on rational grounds a champion of absolutism for the sovereign, Hobbes also developed some of the fundamentals of European liberal thought : the right of the individual; the natural equality of all men; the artificial character of the political order (which led to the later distinction between civil society and the state); the view that all legitimate political power must be "representative" and based on the consent of the people; and a liberal interpretation of law that leaves people free to do whatever the law does not explicitly forbid. His understanding of humans as being matter and motion, obeying the same physical laws as other matter and motion, remains influential; and his account of human nature as self-interested cooperation, and of political communities as being based upon a "social contract" remains one of the major topics of political philosophy.
* 1 Early life and education
* 2 In Paris
* 3 Civil war in
* 5 Opposition
* 6 Later life * 7 Death * 8 Works * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References * 12 Sources
* 13 Further reading
* 13.1 General resources * 13.2 Critical studies
* 14 External links
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Thomas Hobbes was born at Westport , now part of
At university, Hobbes appears to have followed his own curriculum; he was "little attracted by the scholastic learning". He did not complete his B.A. degree until 1608, but he was recommended by Sir James Hussey, his master at Magdalen, as tutor to William , the son of William Cavendish , Baron of Hardwick (and later Earl of Devonshire ), and began a lifelong connection with that family.
Hobbes became a companion to the younger William and they both took
part in a grand tour of Europe in 1610. Hobbes was exposed to European
scientific and critical methods during the tour, in contrast to the
scholastic philosophy that he had learned in Oxford. 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
Although he associated with literary figures like
Hobbes's first area of study was an interest in the physical doctrine of motion and physical momentum. Despite his interest in this phenomenon, he disdained experimental work as in physics . He went on to conceive the system of thought to the elaboration of which he would devote his life. 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. He then singled out Man from the realm of Nature and plants. Then, in another treatise, he showed what specific bodily motions were involved in the production of the peculiar phenomena of sensation, knowledge, affections and passions whereby Man came into relation with Man. Finally he considered, in his crowning treatise, how Men were moved to enter into society, and argued how this must be regulated if Men were not to fall back into "brutishness and misery". Thus he proposed to unite the separate phenomena of Body, Man, and the State.
Hobbes came home, in 1637, to a country riven with discontent which
disrupted him from the orderly execution of his philosophic plan.
However, by the end of the
Short Parliament in 1640, he had written a
short treatise called _The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic_. It
was not published and only circulated as a manuscript among his
acquaintances. A pirated version, however, was published about ten
years later. 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. 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
When in November 1640 the Long Parliament succeeded the Short, Hobbes felt that he was in disfavour due to the circulation of his treatise and fled to Paris. He did not return for 11 years. In Paris, he rejoined the coterie about 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. A different set of remarks on other works by Descartes succeeded only in ending all correspondence between the two.
Hobbes also extended his own works somewhat, working on the third section, _ De Cive _, which was finished in November 1641. Although it was initially only circulated privately, it was well received, and included lines of argumentation that were repeated a decade later in _Leviathan_. 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. He built a good reputation in philosophic circles and in 1645 was chosen with Descartes, Gilles de Roberval and others to referee the controversy between John Pell and Longomontanus over the problem of squaring the circle .
CIVIL WAR IN ENGLAND
English Civil War
In 1647, Hobbes took up a position as mathematical instructor to the young Charles, Prince of Wales , who had come over from Jersey around July. This engagement lasted until 1648 when Charles went to Holland. _ 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. 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. 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?
During the years of composing _Leviathan_, Hobbes remained in or near Paris. In 1647, a serious illness that nearly killed him disabled him for six months. On recovering, he resumed his literary task and completed it by 1650. Meanwhile, a translation of _De Cive_ was being produced; scholars disagree about whether it was Hobbes who translated it.
In 1650, a pirated edition of _The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic_ was published. It was divided into two small volumes (_Human Nature, or the Fundamental Elements of Policie_ and _De corpore politico, or the Elements of Law, Moral and Politick_). In 1651, the translation of _ De Cive _ was published under the title _Philosophicall Rudiments concerning Government and Society_. Meanwhile, 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, Ecclesiasticall and Civil._ It had a famous title-page engraving depicting a crowned giant above the waist towering above hills overlooking a landscape, holding a sword and a crozier and made up of tiny human figures.
The work had immediate impact. Soon, Hobbes was more lauded and decried than any other thinker of his time. The first effect of its publication was to sever his link with the exiled royalists, who might well have killed him. The secularist spirit of his book greatly angered both Anglicans and French Catholics. Hobbes appealed to the revolutionary English government for protection and fled back to London in winter 1651. After his submission to the Council of State , he was allowed to subside into private life in Fetter Lane .
In _Leviathan_, Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of
states and legitimate governments and creating an objective science of
morality. This gave rise to social contract theory . _Leviathan_ was
written during the
English Civil War
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 . In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This, Hobbes argues, would lead to a "war of all against all" (_bellum omnium contra omnes _). 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:
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.
In such a state, people fear death, and lack both the things necessary to commodious living, and the hope of being able to toil to obtain them. So, in order to avoid it, people accede to a social contract and establish a civil society . According to Hobbes, society is a population beneath a sovereign authority , to whom all individuals in that society cede some rights for the sake of protection. Any power exercised by this authority cannot be resisted, because the protector's sovereign power derives from individuals' surrendering their own sovereign power for protection. The individuals are thereby the authors of all decisions made by the sovereign. "he that complaineth of injury from his sovereign complaineth that whereof he himself is the author, and therefore ought not to accuse any man but himself, no nor himself of injury because to do injury to one's self is impossible". There is no doctrine of separation of powers in Hobbes's discussion. According to Hobbes, the sovereign must control civil, military, judicial and ecclesiastical powers, even the words.
In 1654 a small treatise, _Of Liberty and Necessity_, directed at Hobbes, was published by Bishop John Bramhall . 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. Hobbes duly replied, but not for publication. However, a French acquaintance took a copy of the reply and published it with "an extravagantly laudatory epistle". 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_). In 1656, Hobbes was ready with _The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance_, in which he replied "with astonishing force" to the bishop. 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. The bishop returned to the charge in 1658 with _Castigations of Mr Hobbes's Animadversions_, and also included a bulky appendix entitled _The Catching of Leviathan the Great Whale_.
For more details on this topic, see Hobbes–Wallis controversy .
Hobbes opposed the existing academic arrangements, and assailed the system of the original universities in _Leviathan_. He went on to publish _ De Corpore _, which contained not only tendentious views on mathematics but also an erroneous proof of the squaring of the circle . This all led mathematicians to target him for polemics and sparked John Wallis to become one of his most persistent opponents. From 1655, the publishing date of _De Corpore_, Hobbes and Wallis went round after round trying to disprove each other's positions. After years of debate, the spat over proving the squaring of the circle gained such notoriety that it has become one of the most infamous feuds in mathematical history.
Hobbes has been accused of atheism , or (in the case of Bramhall) of teachings which could lead to atheism. This was an important accusation, and Hobbes himself wrote, in his answer to Bramhall's _The Catching of Leviathan_ that "atheism, impiety, and the like are words of the greatest defamation possible". Hobbes always defended himself from such accusations. 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.
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 inconsistent with such belief. He says that this "sort of discrepancy has led to many errors in determining who was an atheist in the early modern period ". In this extended early modern sense of atheism, Hobbes did take positions that strongly disagreed with church teachings of his time. For example, he argued repeatedly that there are no incorporeal substances, and that all things, including human thoughts, and even God, heaven, and hell are corporeal, matter in motion. He argued that "though Scripture acknowledge spirits, yet doth it nowhere say, that they are incorporeal, meaning thereby without dimensions and quantity". (In this view, Hobbes claimed to be following Tertullian , whose views were not condemned in the First Council of Nicaea .) He also, like Locke , stated that true revelation can never disagree with human reason and experience, although he also argued that people should accept revelation and its interpretations also for the reason that they should accept the commands of their sovereign, in order to avoid war.
Tomb of Thomas Hobbes in St John the Baptist\'s Church, Ault Hucknall
In 1658, Hobbes published the final section of his philosophical system, completing the scheme he had planned more than 20 years before. _De Homine_ consisted for the most part of an elaborate theory of vision. The remainder of the treatise dealt cursorily with some of the topics more fully treated in the _Human Nature_ and the _Leviathan_. In addition to publishing some controversial writings on mathematics and physics, Hobbes also continued to produce philosophical works. From the time of the Restoration , he acquired a new prominence; "Hobbism" became a byword for all that respectable society ought to denounce. The young king, Hobbes' former pupil, now Charles II, remembered Hobbes and called him to the court to grant him a pension of £100.
The king was important in protecting Hobbes when, in 1666, the House of Commons introduced a bill against atheism and profaneness. 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_". Hobbes was terrified at the prospect of being labelled a heretic, and proceeded to burn some of his compromising papers. At the same time, he examined the actual state of the law of heresy . 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. 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.
The only consequence that came of the bill was that Hobbes could
never thereafter publish anything in
His final works were a curious mixture: an autobiography in Latin verse in 1672, and a translation of four books of the _ Odyssey _ into "rugged" English rhymes that in 1673 led to a complete translation of both _ Iliad _ and _Odyssey_ in 1675.
In October 1679 Hobbes suffered a bladder disorder, and then a paralytic stroke, from which he died on 4 December 1679. His last words were said to have been "A great leap in the dark", uttered in his final conscious moments. His body was interred in St John the Baptist\'s Church, Ault Hucknall , in Derbyshire.
* 1602. Latin translation of Euripides' _Medea_ (lost).
* 1620. Three of the discourses in the _Horae Subsecivae:
Observation and Discourses_ (_A Discourse of Tacitus_, _A Discourse of
Rome_, and _A Discourse of Laws_).
* 1626. _De Mirabilis Pecci, Being the Wonders of the Peak in
Darby-shire_, (a poem first published in 1636)
* 1629. _Eight Books of the Peloponnesian Warre_, translation with
an Introduction of
* 1650. Pirated edition of _The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic_, repackaged to include two parts:
* _Human Nature, or the Fundamental Elements of Policie_ (chapters 14–19 of Part One of the _Elements_ of 1640) * _ De Corpore Politico_ (Part Two of the _Elements_ of 1640)
* 1651. _Philosophical Rudiments concerning Government and Society_ (English translation of _De Cive_) * 1651. _Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiasticall and Civil _ * 1654. _Of Libertie and Necessitie, a Treatise_ * 1655. _ De Corpore _ (Latin) * 1656. _Elements of Philosophy, The First Section, Concerning Body_ (anonymous English translation of _De Corpore_) * 1656. _Six Lessons to the Professor of Mathematics_ * 1656. _The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance_ (reprint of _Of Libertie and Necessitie, a Treatise_, with the addition of Bramhall's reply and Hobbes's reply to Bramahall's reply) * 1657. _Stigmai, or Marks of the Absurd Geometry, Rural Language, Scottish Church Politics, and Barbarisms of John Wallis_ * 1658. _Elementorum Philosophiae Sectio Secunda De Homine_ * 1660. _Examinatio et emendatio mathematicae hodiernae qualis explicatur in libris Johannis Wallisii_ * 1661. _Dialogus physicus, sive De natura aeris_ * 1662. _Problematica Physica_ (translated in English in 1682 as _Seven Philosophical Problems_) * 1662. _Seven Philosophical Problems, and Two Propositions of Geometru_ (published posthumously) * 1662. _Mr. Hobbes Considered in his Loyalty, Religion, Reputation, and Manners. By way of Letter to Dr. Wallis_ (English autobiography) * 1666. _De Principis & Ratiocinatione Geometrarum_ * 1666. _A Dialogue between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of England_ (published in 1681) * 1668. _ Leviathan _ (Latin translation) * 1668. _An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall_ (published in 1682) * 1671. _Three Papers Presented to the Royal Society Against Dr. Wallis. Together with Considerations on Dr. Wallis his Answer to them_ * 1671. _Rosetum Geometricum, sive Propositiones Aliquot Frustra antehac tentatae. Cum Censura brevi Doctrinae Wallisianae de Motu_ * 1672. _Lux Mathematica. Excussa Collisionibus Johannis Wallisii_ * 1673. English translation of Homer 's _ Iliad _ and _ Odyssey _ * 1674. _Principia et Problemata Aliquot Geometrica Antè Desperata, Nunc breviter Explicata Now First Collected and Edited by Sir William Molesworth, Bart._, (London: Bohn, 1839–45). 11 volumes. Reprint London, 1939-–; reprint: Aalen, 1966 (= EW).
* TRIPOS ; in Three Discourses:
* I. Human Nature, or the Fundamental Elements of Policy * II. De Corpore Politico, or the Elements of Law * III. Of Liberty and Necessity
* An Answer to Bishop Bramhall's Book, called "The Catching of the Leviathan" * An Historical Narration concerning Heresy, and the Punishment thereof * Considerations upon the Reputation, Loyalty, Manners, and Religion of Thomas Hobbes * Answer to Sir William Davenant's Preface before "Gondibert" * Letter to the Right Honourable Edward Howard
* Volume 5. _The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance, clearly stated and debated between Dr Bramhall Bishop of Derry and Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury_. * Volume 6.
* _A Dialogue Between a Philosopher first complete edition (but omitting the diagrams) by Franco Alessio, _Rivista critica di storia della filosofia_, 18, 1963, pp. 147–228.
* _Critique du 'De mundo' de Thomas White_, edited by Jean Jacquot and Harold Whitmore Jones, Paris, 1973, with three appendixes:
* _De Motibus Solis, Aetheris pp. 448–60: MS 5297, National Library of Wales). * Notes for the _Logica_ and _Philosophia prima_ of the _De Corpore_ (pp. 461–513: Chatsworth MS A10 and the notes of Charles Cavendish on a draft of the _De Corpore_: British Library, Harley MS 6083).
* _Of the Life and
* _Three Discourses: a Critical Modern Edition of Newly Identified Work of the Young Hobbes_ (TD), edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Arlene Saxonhouse, Chicago, 1975.
* _A Discourse upon the Beginning of Tacitus_, in TD, pp. 31–67. * _A Discourse of Rome_, in TD, pp. 71–102. * _A Discourse of Law_, in TD, pp. 105–19.
* _Thomas Hobbes' A Minute or First Draught of the Optiques_ (British Library, Harley MS 3360). Critical Edition by Elaine C. Stroud, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1983. * _Of Passions_, Edition of the unpublished manuscript Harley 6093 by Anna Minerbi Belgrado, in: _Rivista di storia della filosofia_, 43, 1988, pp. 729–38. * _The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes_, edited by Noel Malcolm, Oxford: the Clarendon Edition, vol. 6–7, 1994 (I: 1622–1659; II: 1660–1679).
Translations in modern English
* _De Corpore, Part I. Computatio Sive Logica_. Edited with an Introductory Essay by L C. Hungerland and G. R. Vick. Translation and Commentary by A. Martinich. New York: Abaris Books, 1981. * _Thomas White's De mundo Examined_, translation by H. W. Jones, Bradford: Bradford University Press, 1976 (the appendixes of the Latin edition (1973) are not enclosed).
New critical editions of Hobbes' works (in progress)
* _Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes_, Oxford: Clarendon Press (10 volumes published of 27 planned). * _Traduction des œuvres latines de Hobbes_, under the direction of Yves Charles Zarka, Paris: Vrin (5 volumes published of 17 planned).
* ^ _Tracts of Mr. Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury : Containing I. Behemoth, the history of the causes of the civil wars of England, from 1640. to 1660. printed from the author's own copy: never printed (but with a thousand faults) before. II. An answer to Arch-bishop Bramhall's book, called the Catching of the Leviathan: never printed before. III. An historical narration of heresie, and the punishment thereof: corrected by the true copy. IV. Philosophical problems, dedicated to the King in 1662. but never printed before_, 1682 .
* ^ "Hobbes: Moral and Political Philosophy". UTM.
* ^ Sheldon, Dr. Garrett W. _The
* _ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hobbes, Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica _. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 545–552.
* _"Hinduism" to "Home, Earls of"_ at Project Gutenberg
* MacDonald, Hugh & Hargreaves, Mary. _Thomas Hobbes, a Bibliography_, London: The Bibliographical Society, 1952. * Hinnant, Charles H. (1980). _Thomas Hobbes: A Reference Guide_, Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. * Garcia, Alfred (1986). _Thomas Hobbes: bibliographie internationale de 1620 à 1986_, Caen: Centre de Philosophie politique et juridique Université de Caen.
* Brandt, Frithiof (1928). _Thomas Hobbes' Mechanical Conception of Nature_, Copenhagen: Levin Trenchard, David (2008). "Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679)". In Hamowy, Ronald . _The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism_. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE ; Cato Institute . pp. 226–27. ISBN 978-1412965804 . LCCN 2008009151 . OCLC 750831024 . doi :10.4135/9781412965811.n137 . * Oakeshott, Michael (1975). _Hobbes on Civil Association_, Oxford: Basil Blackwell . * Pettit, Philip (2008). _Made with Words. Hobbes on Language, Mind, and Politics_, Princeton: Princeton University Press. * Robinson, Dave and Groves, Judy (2003). _Introducing Political Philosophy_, Icon Books. ISBN 1-84046-450-X . * Ross, George MacDonald (2009). _Starting with Hobbes_, London: Continuum. * Shapin, Steven and Shaffer, Simon (1995). _ Leviathan and the Air-Pump ._ Princeton: Princeton University Press . * Skinner, Quentin (1996). _Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes_, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Skinner, Quentin (2002). _Visions of Politics. Vol. III: Hobbes and Civil Science_, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press * Stomp, Gabriella (ed.) (2008). _Thomas Hobbes_, Aldershot: Ashgate. * Strauss, Leo (1936). _The Political Philosophy of Hobbes; Its Basis and Its Genesis_, Oxford: Clarendon Press . * Strauss, Leo (1959). "On the Basis of Hobbes's Political Philosophy" in _What Is Political Philosophy?_, Glencoe, IL: Free Press , chap. 7. * Tönnies, Ferdinand (1925). _Hobbes. Leben und Lehre_, Stuttgart: Frommann, 3rd ed. * Tuck, Richard (1993). _Philosophy and Government, 1572–1651_, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Vélez, Fabio (2014). _La palabra y la espada: a vueltas con Hobbes_, Madrid: Maia. * Vieira, Monica Brito (2009). _The Elements of Representation in Hobbes_, Leiden: Brill Publishers . * Zagorin, Perez (2009). _Hobbes and the Law of Nature_, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
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