Hobbes, Thomas

(1588-1679)
   Hobbes traced his life-long fear of disorder to his premature birth when his mother heard of the advance of the Spanish Armada. This fear of disorder exhibits itself not only in the subject matter of Hobbes's books, in particular his insistence on the necessity of an absolute sovereign to give strong government, but also in the rational form of their composition: Hobbes's attempt to demonstrate his conclusions in the geometrical manner. His most important philosophical works were in the philosophy of politics and law, culminating in the publication in 1651 of his magnum opus, Leviathan (the title being taken from Job 41: 1, and being a metaphor for the absolute sovereign). Hobbes's political work in fact fell between two stools: it displeased the Parliamentarians because of its advocacy of absolute sovereignty, and it failed to satisfy the Royalists because Hobbes founded the unconditional obedience he wanted for the sovereign not on divine right but on a primitive social contract made to escape the state of nature in which lives were 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. Hobbes also defended a thoroughgoing materialism and determinism in a three-volume Latin work, Elementa Philosophiae: the first volume of which, De corpore (published in 1655), focused on how one's bodily actions were determined by basic principles of motion. The second volume, De homine (published in 1658), applied the principles of motion to the life of the mind (which Hobbes of course thought material). The third volume, De cive (appearing before the others in 1642), applied these same principles to man's organised social life and what is necessary to get a state with staying-power (as opposed to one that will collapse into civil war, Hobbes's great fear). Hobbes was accused of atheism, but he was in fact an unorthodox theist that thought that God was a physical being. This and his doctrine that humans were rarely, if ever, motivated by true altruism earned him the unflattering nickname 'the beast of Malmesbury'.
   Further reading: Hobbes 1839-45; Martinich 1995 and 2005; Sorrell 1996

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Hobbes, Thomas — born April 5, 1588, Westport, Wiltshire, Eng. died Dec. 4, 1679, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire English philosopher and political theorist. The son of a vicar who abandoned his family, Hobbes was raised by his uncle. After graduating from the… …   Universalium

  • Hobbes,Thomas — Hobbes (hŏbz), Thomas. 1588 1679. English philosopher and political theorist best known for his book Leviathan (1651), in which he argues that the only way to secure civil society is through universal submission to the absolute authority of a… …   Universalium

  • Hobbes, Thomas — (1588–1679) English philosopher, mathematician, and linguist. Hobbes was born of an impoverished clerical family in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He was fond of the joke that his mother fell into labour with him on hearing the rumour of the Spanish… …   Philosophy dictionary

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  • Hobbes, Thomas — (1588 1679) An English philosopher and social theorist of the Enlightenment. Hobbes s most influential writings in political philosophy span the period of the English Civil War, and are widely interpreted as an intellectual response to the… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Hobbes, Thomas — ► (1588 1679) Filósofo inglés, discípulo de Bacon. En su segundo viaje al continente (1629 1631) conoció los Elementos de Euclides, que le llenaron de entusiasmo y fijaron la orientación matematizante de su pensamiento. En su tercer viaje,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hobbes, Thomas — See Seventeenth century materialism …   History of philosophy

  • HOBBES, THOMAS —    an English philosopher, psychologist, and moralist, born at Malmesbury; was educated at Oxford; connected all his days with the Cavendish family, with members of which he travelled on the Continent, and was on friendly terms with Charles II.,… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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