Thomas Hobbes

By: Julie Woycik

The life of Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was born in Westport, adjoining Malmesbury, England, on April 5, 1588. His father was the disgraced vicar of a local parish, and in the wake of the precipitating scandal (caused by brawling in front of his own church) he disappeared, abandoning his three children to the care of his brother. This uncle of Hobbes', a tradesman and alderman, provided for Hobbes' education. Already an excellent student of classical languages, at age 14 Hobbes went to Magdalen Hall in Oxford to study. He then left Oxford in 1608 and became the private tutor for William Cavendish, the eldest son of Lord Cavendish of Hardwick (later known as the first Earl of Devonshire). In 1610, Hobbes traveled with William to France, Italy and Germany, where he met other leading scholars of the day, such as Francis Bacon and Ben Jonson. Thomas Hobbes died on December 4, 1679. He was a Philosopher and he was known for his book Leviathan 1651.

Thomas Hobbes Belifes in goverment

Hobbes traveled many times to neighboring European countries to meet with Scientists to study different forms of government. He became interested in the reasoning behind why people let themselves be ruled by a king and searched for a better form of Government to better benefit the people of England. He realized that due to the selfishness and wickedness of humans absolute power such as a Dictatorship or a monarchy was the way to go. He thought that people being selfish creatures would do anything in their power to put themselves in a better position .

He also said, " If men are in a natural state of war, why do they always carry arms and why do they have keys to lock their doors?" To Hobbes governments were created to protect people from their own selfishness and evil. He figured only a dictator or a king would make an Authoritative figure, able to provide the direction and leadership that a government required.

To prevent the king from being overly cruel and unfair a diverse group of representatives to help voice the problems of the common people were formed. How ever this voice was usually heard and not listened to, The final decisions lay with the king. According to Hobbes the fear of violent death would be the motive to cause the people to surrender their natural rights and submit to absolute power.

Famouse Quotes

  1. Curoisty is the lust of the mind
  2. Now i am about to take my last voage, a great leap in the dark
  3. No mans error becomes his own law ; nor obliges him to persist in it
  4. Science is the knowlodge of consequences and depends of one fact upon another Those are just some of them and there are others, alot of others.


In 1690, Locke published his Two Treaties of Government. He generally agreed with Hobbes about the brutality of the state of nature, which required a social contract to assure peace. But he disagreed with Hobbes on two major points.

First, Locke argued that natural rights such as life, liberty, and property existed in the state of nature and could never be taken away or even voluntarily given up by individuals. These rights were “inalienable” (impossible to surrender). Locke also disagreed with Hobbes about the social contract. For him, it was not just an agreement among the people, but between them and the sovereign (preferably a king).

According to Locke, the natural rights of individuals limited the power of the king. The king did not hold absolute power, as Hobbes had said, but acted only to enforce and protect the natural rights of the people. If a sovereign violated these rights, the social contract was broken, and the people had the right to revolt and establish a new government. Less than 100 years after Locke wrote his Two Treatises of Government, Thomas Jefferson used his theory in writing the Declaration of Independence

Most Popular Work/Book

Thomas Hobbes took a new look at the ways in which society should function, and he ended up formulating the concept of political science. His crowning achievement, Leviathan, remains among the greatest works in the history of ideas. Written during a moment in English history when the political and social structures as well as methods of science were in flux.
Thomas Hobbes 3 minute philosophy

Thomas Hobbes Primary document

The 17th Century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes is now widely regarded as one of a handful of truly great political philosophers, whose masterwork Leviathan rivals in significance the political writings of Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Rawls. Hobbes is famous for his early and elaborate development of what has come to be known as “social contract theory”, the method of justifying political principles or arrangements by appeal to the agreement that would be made among suitably situated rational, free, and equal persons. He is infamous for having used the social contract method to arrive at the astonishing conclusion that we ought to submit to the authority of an absolute—undivided and unlimited—sovereign power. While his methodological innovation had a profound constructive impact on subsequent work in political philosophy, his substantive conclusions have served mostly as a foil for the development of more palatable philosophical positions