An Image of Thomas Hobbes

He was a mid 17th century philosopher who is considered one of the greatest political philosophers. Even Karl Marx acknowledged that Hobbes is the father of us all.


Born: 5 April 1588, Westport, Wiltshire

Died: 4 December 1679, Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Influenced: Antonio Negri

Influenced by: Niccolò Machiavelli, Aristotle, René Descartes, Plato, Francis Bacon


Life Sketch and Accomplishments of Hobbes

His life covers one of the most exciting periods of English history the period of English Revolution.

He was fifteen years old when James I ascended the throne and made a srious attempt to revive absolute monarchy by advocating the theory of Divine right of kings and ignoring Parliament. This

led to a general dissatisfaction in the country; the ground for the conflict between the king and the Parliament was well prepared. This conflict started in 1642 and continued till 1688 when constitutional monarchy was established under William of Orange and his wife, Mary.

Hobbes was a witness to this whole exciting drama which exercised profound influence on his thought and led him to lay stress on the necessity of a strong and stable government as the prime condition of

civilized and progressive life on the part of the subjects.

Later he became tutor to the heir of William Cavendish who later on became the Earl of Devonshire. This connection with the Cavendish family lasted for most of his life and brought him into the contact with the leading figures of the period like Bacon, Descartes and Galileo.

Like most of the 17th century thinkers Hobbes came under the spell Geometry, and thought of applying its method not only in the explanation of natural phenomena but also in the sphere of psychology and politics. He was thus drawn into the great movement of thought known as “the new philosophy ‘with which the names of great men like Descartes and Galileo were associated.

When the civil war broke out in England Hobbes got alarmed, fled from England and sought safety in France where he remained for eleven years. It was as an exiled person he wrote his greatest work, the Leviathan, which was published in 1651.

As the contents of Leviathan became known, he fell into disfavor with both the royalists and the parliamentarians. Hobbes did not support either the theory of the Divine right of kings and the principle of legitimacy which constituted the main line of the defense of the royalists, or the theory of popular representation which was advocated by the parliamentarians.

With the restoration of monarchy in 1660 he was again received at the royal court. But this royal favor did not continue for long. For reasons of convenience the King put a sort of ban upon his political In work and he spend the last two decades of his life in retirement writing treatises on physics , history, law and classical literature.

The views expressed in his two major works , The Civic and Society, and Leviathan were in favour of the idea of monarchial government , but he did not endorse the prevalent theory of divine rights of king given by Robert Filmer to justify the absolute authority of the king.


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