Emily Fuller

Thomas Hobbes

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What Does Thomas Hobbes Say? (The Fox Parody) - @TomRichey

Quick Overview

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher and political theorist in the 1600's. He is commonly referred to as the central figure of British Empiricism. His most popular work, "Leviathan," expressed his idea that materialism and social contract formed the basis of society.

Social Contract

"The condition in which people give up some individual liberty in exchange for some common security."

Example: I give up my natural right to steal your money because you give up your natural right to steal mine.

Hobbes compares the relationship of nature, man, and society to the law of inertia (an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force).So basically, our desire to do whatever we want is checked (checks and balances) only by a need for security and safety.

Impact on US Government

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Inalienable Rights: cannot be bought, sold, or transferred from one individual to another; inseperable

Equality of All Men

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Excerpts from Leviathan

“by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means or preserving the same, and to omit that by which he thinketh it may be best preserved..”[Leviathan, Ch. VI]

“From this fundamental la of nature, by which men are commanded to endeavor peace, is derived this second law: that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself. For as long as every man holdeth this right, of doing anything he liketh; so long are all men in the condition of war. But if other men will not lay down their right, as well as he, then there is no reason for anyone to divest himself of his: for that were to expose himself to prey, which no man is bound to, rather than to dispose himself to peace. This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them.” [Leviathan Ch. VI]


"Thomas Hobbes." Encyclopedia of World Biorgaphy. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 421-22. Print. 24 Sept. 2015

Williams, Garrath. "Thomas Hobbes: Moral and Political Philosphy." N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015