Thomas Hobbes was an English natural philosopher. He was born into a poor family in 1588 and educated at Oxford by the goodwill of his uncle. Upon graduation he tutored a young man, William Cavendish (became the Earl of Devonshire) and remained in his family’s service for 70 years (except when he escaped to Paris). His philosophical interests came from Euclid. His first publication came about in 1640, The Elements of Laws, Natural and Politic, with his most famous book The Leviathan written in 1651.
Hobbes used outrageous arguments to debate his views. He was able to persuade people to think what they otherwise would not have thought and argue to the point in which they would be unable to disagree with him. He would define his terms, argue thru the deductions, and come up with a irrefutable conclusion to force people to come to terms with his argument.
His theory assumes that people are inherently selfish and concerned only with their own self interests. Since others are doing the same, there can only be conflict within the state of nature and because of their self interest, men cannot resolve these conflicts with each other. Therefore, man would be in a perpetual state of war. Instead Hobbes argues, the continuing state of war could be resolved if men were to make a “contract” with others to create a state governed by a form of absolute power to secure their security and protection. Hobbes would prefer an absolute monarch, but would accept a small group or even a democratic form if ruled with absolutism, though he believes democracy is messy and chaotic. Furthermore, Hobbes puts the state interest before the interest of the citizens.
In Leviathan, Hobbes also mentions how a government can become disillusioned and ineffective if it fails to provide the necessary protection and security for men. He also notes how a government would not be destroyed by external forces, but from conflicts within, because of the competing forces divided within, untimely leading to a state of civil war.
Hobbes absolutist theories put him in danger during the English parliamentary government. This is his reasoning in leaving England during the civil wars. However, with the ascension of Charles II he returned and believed Charles II was wrong to not embrace an absolute monarchy and should not have allowed a return of the Parliament.
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