Authors: Thomas Hobbes

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English philosopher

Author Works


De Cive, 1642, revised 1647 (Philosophical Rudiments Concerning Government and Society, 1651)

Human Nature, 1650

De Corpore Politico, 1650

Leviathan, 1651

The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance, 1656

Behemoth: The History of the Causes of the Civil Wars of England, 1679

The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, 1839-1845 (11 volumes)


The first great materialistic philosopher in England to challenge theological orthodoxy, Thomas Hobbes (hahbz) was an alien in his own country. Neither the Church of England nor the Puritan party could tolerate the materialistic foundation of his philosophy, and as a result he became a controversial figure whose very life was sometimes in danger. Despite his fears of physical harm, he managed to produce a tremendous volume of work during his long life, his political theories and his doctrine of psychological determinism being his most important contributions to moral philosophy.{$I[AN]9810000537}{$I[A]Hobbes, Thomas}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Hobbes, Thomas}{$I[tim]1588;Hobbes, Thomas}

Thomas Hobbes

(Library of Congress)

Until he was past the age of forty, Hobbes did little philosophical work. Born at Westport on April 5, 1588, he entered Oxford University at fifteen; at the university, he studied Greek and Roman authors almost exclusively. Following his graduation, he made a living as a tutor to the second and third earls of Devonshire. During these years, he traveled in Europe, published a translation of Thucydides, and became acquainted with the thought of Michel de Montaigne and Galileo. He left England in 1640 in fear of the Parliament and took up residence among the philosophers of Paris. Leviathan, his great defense of the authoritarian state, turned even the exiled Royalists against him because of its irreligion. Hobbes fled for his life back to London, where Parliament chose to let him alone. He carried on many public disputes, his most famous being his defense of psychological determinism against Bishop John Bramhall. At his death at the age of ninety-one at Hardwick Hall in 1679, Hobbes was both revered as a sage and hated as the enemy of virtue and religion. Today, he is chiefly remembered as one of the first philosophers to apply the new methods of science to the analysis of human nature.

BibliographyBaumrin, Bernard H., ed. Hobbes’s “Leviathan”: Interpretation and Criticism. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1969. Presents an interesting and varied collection of essays, ranging from the early (1727) to the more recent (1967).Condren, Conal. Thomas Hobbes. New York: Twayne, 2000. A standard biography from the Twayne’s English Authors series.Dietz, Mary G., ed. Thomas Hobbes and Political Theory. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990. A series of significant essays covering contemporary thinking on Hobbes.Johnston, David. The Rhetoric of Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Cultural Transformation. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986. An important postmodern reading of Leviathan.Martinich, A. P. Hobbes: A Biography. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. A biography from a noted Hobbes scholar.Martinich, A. P. A Hobbes Dictionary. Oxford, England: Blackwell, 1995. One in a series of invaluable Blackwell Philosophic Dictionaries.Missner, Marshall. On Hobbes. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2000. A volume from the Wadsworth Philosophers series.Rogers, Graham Alan John, ed. Perspectives on Thomas Hobbes. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1988. A collection of essays published in association with the important fourth centenary Hobbes conference.Sorrell, Tom. The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1996. An essential reference book by a leading British Hobbes scholar.Sorrell, Tom. Hobbes. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986. A useful introduction to the thought of Hobbes.
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