Leviathan – Thomas Hobbes
Leviathan – Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil—commonly referred to as Leviathan—is a book written by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and published in 1651 (revised Latin edition 1668). Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan. The work concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory. Leviathan ranks as a classic western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli’s The Prince. Written during the English Civil War (1642–1651), Leviathan argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that civil war and the brute situation of a state of nature (“the war of all against all”) could only be avoided by strong, undivided government.
Its appeal to the twentieth century lies not just in its elevation of politics to a science, but in its overriding concern for peace. Its argument that the state of nature, in which life is ‘nasty, brutish and short (and patriarchal), is important, but so too is its systematic analysis of power, and its convincing apologia for the then emergent market society in which we still live.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was born in Malmesbury. Entering Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1603, he took his degree in 1608 and became tutor to the eldest son of Lord Cavendish of Hardwick, afterwards the Earl of Devonshire; his connection with this family was life-long. His first interest was in the classics, and his first published work a translation of Thucydides, in 1628. An interest in science and philosophy soon developed, heightened by extended travels in Europe in 1629-31 and 1634-37. This led to his great project of a political science. His first verson of this, The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, was privately circulated in 1640, when Parliament was hotly disputing the king’s powers, and Hobbes fled to Paris, where he stayed for eleven years.
A second version, De Cive, was published in 1642, and the third, Leviathan—the crowning achievement of his political science—in 1651. It was so influential that it came under widespread attack and was in danger of condemnation by the House of Commons. Hobbes perforce lived quietly and published little more on political matters. At the age of eighty-four he composed an autobiography in Latin verse, and within the next three years translated the whole of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad.
Subscribe Our Feed to receive an ebook everyday!
How to download eBooks: Click Download, wait 5 seconds and Click Skip This Ad to download ebook