- NAME: Thomas Hobbes
- OCCUPATION: Historian, Philosopher, Political Scientist, Scientist, Academic Author, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: April 05, 1588
- DEATH DATE: December 04, 1679
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Westport, near Mamesbury, Wiltshire, England
- PLACE OF DEATH: Derbyshire, England
- AKA: Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury
- AKA: Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury
Best Known For
Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher in the 17th century, was best known for his book Leviathan (1651) and his political views on society.
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Thomas Hobbes, born in Westport, England, on April 5, 1588, was known for his views on how humans could thrive in harmony while avoiding the perils and fear of societal conflict. His experience during a time of upheaval in England influenced his thoughts, which he captured in The Elements of Law (1640); De Cive [On the Citizen] (1642) and his most famous work, Leviathan (1651). Hobbes died in 1679.
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.
Hobbes' pupil died in 1628, and Hobbes was left searching for a new one (always finding himself working for various wealthy and aristocratic families, Hobbes later worked for the Marquess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a cousin of William Cavendish, and the marquess's brother, Sir Charles Cavendish). In 1631, while again tutoring a young Cavendish, Hobbes' philosophy began to take form, and his Short Tract on First Principles appeared.
Through his association with the Cavendish family, Hobbes entered circles where the activities of the king, members of Parliament, and other wealthy landowners were discussed, and his intellectual abilities brought him close to power (although he never became a powerful figure himself). Through these channels, he began to observe the influence and structures of power and government. Also, the young William Cavendish was a member of Parliament (1614 and 1621), and Hobbes would have sat in on various parliamentary debates. In the late 1930s, Hobbes became linked with the royalists in disputes between the king and Parliament, as the two factions were in conflict over the scope of kingly powers, especially regarding raising money for armies.
In 1640, Hobbes wrote a piece defending King Charles I's wide interpretation of his own rights in these matters, and royalist members of Parliament used sections of Hobbes' treatise in debates. The treatise was circulated, and The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic became Hobbes' first work of political philosophy (although he never intended it to be published as a book). The conflict then culminated in the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), which led to the king being executed and a republic being declared, and Hobbes left the country to preserve his personal safety, living in France from 1640 to 1651.
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