12 terms

thomas hobbes

Hobbes's argument
-Thomas Hobbes was the first influential philosopher to apply the methods of Enlightenment science to politics.

- One man can be better in something than another man, but in the end their positive and negative qualities add up to make them equal. This equality brings fear to men. They begin to suspect and hate one another, which brings them to war. When men are at war; morality, values and injustice vanish
- the "natural condition" of man, or one without sovereign control, is one of continuous war, violence, death, and fear.
- Life without a sovereign power is a life in which people naturally and constantly seek to destroy one another.
- everyone must make a singular commitment to have freedom from the natural condition
- people must give up certain "natural" rights to a sovereign power. This sovereign is the head of the commonwealth, and as such, will create laws, act as judge, and defend the peace.
- Of course, this concept only works if everyone participates in the social contract.

- Hobbes explains the connection between nature, man, and society through the law of inertia. A moving object continues to move until impeded by another force, and "trains of imagination" or speculation are abated only by logical demonstrations. So also man's liberty or desire to do what he wants is checked only by an equal and opposite need for security.
Quotes from Leviathan
- While in France Hobbes published his most important work: Leviathan (1651).

In Leviathan, Hobbes expressed his principle of materialism and his concept of a social contract forming the basis of society.

- Hobbes chose the leviathan (a large sea animal) to represent the state, and he maintained that like a whale, the state could only be guided by one intelligence: its sovereign's.

- "During the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in a condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man..."
- "And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short"
- For the laws of nature—enjoining justice, fairness, modesty, mercy, and (in short) treating others as we want them to treat us—are in themselves contrary to our natural passions unless some power frightens us into observing them
- In the absence of such a power, our natural passions carry us to partiality, pride, revenge, and the like
- It's true that certain living creatures, such as bees and ants, live sociably with one another, although each of them is steered only by its particular judgments and appetites, they don't have
speech through which one might indicate to another what it thinks expedient for the common benefit.
6 parts to why mankind can't live sociably with one another like other creatures
- born in London in the year of 1588
- father was a quick-tempered vicar of a small Wiltshire parish church.
- Disgraced after engaging in a brawl at his own church door, he disappeared and abandoned his three children to the care of his brother, a well-to-do glover in Malmesbury.
When Thomas was still a young boy, his father was involved in a confrontation with another parson and was forced to leave his home, wife, and children
- Thomas Hobbes' paternal uncle took charge of the care of the children, and he took a keen interest in young Thomas.
- Thomas was reading and writing at age four, acquired functional knowledge of Latin and Greek at age six, and went off to study at Oxford at the age of fifteen
When he was four years old, Hobbes was sent to school at Westport, then to a private school, and finally, at 15, to Magdalen Hall in the University of Oxford, where he took a traditional arts degree and in his spare time developed an interest in maps.
- Hobbes studied at Oxford for five years, and it is said that he was nonchalant about the course of study which he thought was "arid and old-fashioned"
- After graduating from Oxford, Hobbes worked as tutor and companion for the son of Lord Cavendish
.-Lord Cavendisn later became the first Earl of Devonshire, and the son whom Hobbes tutored was the same age as Hobbes.
- Through his association with this aristocratic family, Hobbes became personally acquainted with influential men in business and politics, and got to know the great scientists of the period. His acquaintances included such men as Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, and Harvey.
Hobbes traveled to many other European countries to meet with scientists and to study different forms of government
- During his time outside of England Hobbes became interested in why people allowed themselves to be ruled and what would be the best form of government for England.
- In 1651, Hobbes wrote his most famous work, called Leviathan
Influence on ideas
- Hobbes was influenced by two developments of his time.
- a great systematizer of the scientific findings of his contemporaries, including Galileo and Johannes Kepler.
- From this Hobbes concluded that only matter exists and that everything that happens can be predicted in accordance with exact scientific laws.
- he extended Galileo's mechanical physics into an explanation of human cognition. T
- The second great influence was the English Civil War.
- Descartes, who founded the rationalist tradition, and his contemporary Sir Francis Bacon, who is considered the originator of modern empiricism, both sought new methodologies for achieving scientific knowledge and a systematic conception of reality
-Hobbes knew both of these thinkers, and his system encompassed the advantages of both rationalism and empiricism.
- As a logician, he believed too strongly in the power of deductive reasoning from definitions to share Bacon's exclusive enthusiasm for inductive generalizations from experience.
-And unlike Descartes, Hobbes viewed reason as summation of consequences rather than an innate, originative source of new knowledge.
Three principles that drive man to war
- In Leviathan, Hobbes asserts that humanity's natural condition is characterized by two kinds of equality. - - First, everyone has the ability to kill. Second, everyone is equally prone to believe that they are more wise than everyone else.
- This leads to competition, mistrust, and a desire for glory, which in turn makes people's natural condition a state of war

- Hobbes states three main principles that drive a man to war: Competition, Fear, and Glory
- "The first, maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third for reputation"
- Fear of death prevents men from constant involvement in war..
- however war is the background condition of all human relations.
- His political philosophy influenced successors who adopted the social-contract framework—John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant

-The influence of Hobbes's ideas varied dramatically over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. English politicians and clerics derided him as a heretic. But his theories eventually lent support to loyalists who wanted to preserve the Crown's control over the American colonies

-Later, Hobbes proved useful to the other side: after the American Revolution, his ideas influenced the Federalists in their arguments for adoption of the federal Constitution in 1787. Embracing Hobbes's pessimism, the Federalists saw the American people as unable to survive as a nation without a strong central government that would protect them from foreign powers.

- ideas profoundly affected the Federalists during the early formation of U.S. law. The Federalists turned to Hobbes's work for justification for passage of the U.S. Constitution as well as for intellectual support for their own movement in the years following that passage.
- Materialism, in philosophy, a widely held system of thought that explains the nature of the world as entirely dependent on matter, the fundamental and final reality beyond which nothing need be sought.

- The doctrine was formulated as early as the 4th cent. B.C. by Democritus, in whose system of atomism all phenomena are explained by atoms and their motions in space.

- The theory was later renewed in the 17th cent. by Thomas Hobbes, who believed that the sphere of consciousness essentially belongs to the corporeal world, or the senses.

See D. M. Armstrong, Materialist Theory of the Mind (1968); P. M. Churchland, Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of the Mind (1979) and Matter and Consciousness (1984).


"Thomas Hobbes." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 421-423. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

"Hobbes, Thomas." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William Darity, Jr. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 492-493. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

See E. Barker, Social Contract (1948,repr. 1962); J. W. Gough, The Social Contract (2d ed. 1957); A. Cobban, Rousseau and the Modern State (2d ed. 1964); L. G. Crocker, Rousseau's Social Contract (1968); P. J. Mccormick, Social Contract and Political Obligation (1987).
Social contract/ sovereign power
- Social contract, agreement or covenant by which men are said to have abandoned the "state of nature" to form the society in which they now live.

- The sovereign is the most effective way to ward off the state of nature because an absolute sovereign overawes those who might be tempted to reclaim their natural right.

-in Hobbes's view the sovereign power of a commonwealth is absolute and not subject to the laws and obligations of citizens.
- Obedience remains as long as the sovereign fulfills the social compact by protecting the rights of the individual.
-Consequently rebellion is unjust, by definition, but should the cause of revolution prevail, a new absolute sovereignty is created.
-Today, Hobbes is read not only for his lasting contributions to political-legal theory in general but for the ideas that helped shape U.S. history.
Hobbes' evidence to support his
the fact that people lock their doors provides support for hobbes' view that people are naturally inclined to fight each other