Philosophy Index

Thomas Hobbes

English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes, most famous for Leviathan, studied Physics and Mathematics and took a keen interest in politics. His controversial writings portray life on its most basic level—as the biological process. Hobbes did not believe in any inherent goodness to men, stating that fear is the driving force behind man's submission to a sovereignty.

Leviathan

Hobbes' most prominent work, Leviathan, describes his version of the social contract theory. Originally, says Hobbes, human beings existed in what he calls the "state of nature". In this state, morality does not exist. Since this is not a world that provides any level of security, human beings come together and form societies — because they know that this is the best course of action for their own (selfish) protection. "The social contract" is the agreement, explicit or not, between members of a society that describes morality — the rules of the society.

Hobbes also points out that those who reject the contract remain in the state of nature, and that there is no moral value assigned to any actions taken against them.

In his text, Hobbes describes the Leviathan, that is, the government or sovereign authority that governs the contract. The loss of certain rights to the Leviathan is the price of peace, as the state of nature cannot have peace. However, the Leviathan itself is also governed by the contract, and if it becomes corrupt, it must be overthrown and replaced.

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Name: Thomas Hobbes
Born: April 5, 1588, Wiltshire, England
Died: December 4, 1679