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Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) was an English philosopher and scientist, working primarily during the English Civil War. He is best known for his The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, De Cive, and LeviathanHobbes has been credited as the first modern philosopher to articulate a detailed social contract theory based on secularism.

Biographical Sketch

Early Life

Thomas Hobbes was born prematurely on August 5th, 1588 in Westport, England. His father, Thomas Sr., abandoned the family after quarreling with the local clergy, causing his son to be cared for by his Uncle Francis. At the age of four, Hobbes began his education at the church of Westport, moved to Malmesbury school, then attended Private school under Robert Latimer, and attended Magdalen Hall to study scholasticism and mathematics. In 1688, Thomas Hobbes completed his B.A. Degree in cooperation with St. John's College, Cambridge. From his connections in Magdalen, Hobbes would be recommended as a tutor for the son of William Cavendish, the Baron of Hardwick. While tutoring Cavendish, Hobbes met Sir Francis Bacon and became deeply involved with his Natural theories and knowledge of history. After the death of William Cavendish, Hobbes became the Secretary to his son, the younger William, and took part in a grand tour of Europe between 1610 and 1615. During the grand tour, Hobbes was able to make connections and learn about the upcoming scientific methods. During his time under the Cavendish family, Hobbes was deeply exposed to political, religious, and commercial debates under James I.

Hobbes’ Travels

Sadly, Hobbes would be dismissed from his advising duties following the death of the younger Cavendish in 1628 and spent time in Paris tutoring Gervase Clifton. However, Hobbes went back to work for the Cavendish family in 1630. During this time, he began to entrench himself in the philosophical debates of the era and even visited Galileo Galilei in Florence in 1636. He found himself obsessing over motion, physical momentum, mechanical action, and how humanity related to such concepts. In 1637, Hobbes formally returned to England and wrote The Elements of Law, Natural, and Politic but left it unpublished. The work was read by his closest friends and even leaked causing Hobbes to flee back to Paris. While in Paris, Hobbes cultivated his position among philosophic circles laboring over works such as De Cive in 1641.

The English Civil War

In 1642, Civil War broke out in England, which caused many royalists to flee to Paris. Hobbes became deeply interested in the political situation in England and republished his De Cive, and began laboring over other works. In 1646 the young prince of Wales sought refuge in Paris and invited Hobbes to become his mathematics instructor. The prince of Wales, later to become Charles II, believed that Hobbes was the most unusual man he had ever encountered. Through struggling health, Hobbes produced Leviathan in 1650, which compared the State to the sea monster in the book of Job, which was composed of men and created out of necessity in order to leave the State of Nature that was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Thus, Hobbes has been credited as the first modern philosopher to articulate a detailed social contract theory based on secularism. Leviathan disturbed the prince’s advisors and the Catholics of Paris, causing hostility towards Hobbes. Hobbes appealed to the new regime of Oliver Cromwell and fled back to London in 1651. He would later be called forth by his former student Charles II during the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 and received a yearly pension.

Later Life and Death

In his later years, Hobbes found protection under the King as those in the House of Commons went after Leviathan with legislation due to its atheistic themes. However, the only consequence of this legislation was that Hobbes could never publish anything in England on subjects relating to human behavior. Hobbes spent his remaining years with the Cavendish family and labored over translations of classical literature. Thomas Hobbes died on December 4th, 1679, due to a paralytic stroke. His last known words are said to be, "A great leap in the dark."


De Cive



- Audiobook




- Audiobook

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