Thomas Hobbes


Thomas Hobbes was one of the greatest philosophers, theorists of the state and law, political scientists, logicians and even psychologists of the XVII century. Usually the development of philosophical thought is determined by the current historical context, which represents the basic concepts of political doctrines of individual authors. The doctrine of Hobbes was extensive, so the research should concentrate on specific direction and investigate other areas only briefly. The specific direction is the Theory about a state. It was largely determined by its historical context, which is the thesis of the research paper.

Short Biographical Sketch of Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is the English thinker. He was born in the family of a priest. He graduated from Oxford University with a bachelor's degree. Hobbes also taught logic. He was a secretary of Francis Bacon that, in my opinion, made an influence on the ideology of Hobbes in the area of logic. To my mind, his methodology in this sphere (deduction and induction division) was formed under that influence.

During the English Revolution he was a supporter of O. Cromwell. During the restoration of the royal house of Stuart Thomas Hobbes was not hurt apparently only because his pupils were among the members of the royal house. However, the major works of the philosopher were banned (O'Connor, & Robertson, n.d.). Major works: "The elements of the laws of natural and politic" (1640), " A Briefe of the Art of Rhetorique " (1637), "The cive" (1642), " Leviathan, or the matter, forme, and power of a commonwealth, Ecclesiasticall and civil " (1651), "Of liberty and necessity" (1654), "The body" (1655) etc (O'Connor, & Robertson, n.d.).

Historical Context of Thomas Hobbes’ Ideology Forming

It is apparent that the socio-philosophical outlook of Hobbes was formed in an intense and eventful period of British and European history. The development of the natural sciences, mechanics, geometry, which formed ideology of Hobbes, was in the second half of the XVI century. In 1640 bourgeois revolution and the era of British colonialism began in England. British people expanded its influence to North America and India. In my opinion, exactly as a result of the bourgeois revolution dramatic changes occurred in the structure of society: medieval three-part model of "praying - fighting - working" died and a new class - the bourgeoisie - came into the scene. However, this period is characterized not only with rapid technological and economic development; it was also a period of political crisis in England (Lubienski, n.d.). Disagreements between King Charles I and the Parliament about the powers available to the king turned into a civil war. As a result, Karl was executed in 1649, and the independent Commonwealth of England was declared. De jure it was headed by Parliament, but de facto, I reckon, Oliver Cromwell headed it.

Reflection to the Theory of the Origin of the State and to Other Key Lessons, Learned from Hobbes

From my point of view, the events in the political life had a strong influence on the views of Hobbes on the state structure. As a result, Hobbes formed a new theory of the state. This theory, in my view, should be underlined with 3 principles.

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The first principle. The state is the result of a contract between the people (Hobbes, 1668). It is important, from my point of view, that the need for this contract does not arise spontaneously: the reason is "natural state, the state of chaos" of people before the contract.

The second principle. There can be only three various forms of a state: monarchy, aristocracy and democracy (Hobbes, 1668). It is the most interesting to my mind that monarchy is the best form of state from a mechanical point of view. This is apparently because the sovereign has not only public, but also his own interests. In my view, sovereign who is represented by the aristocracy or democracy is more susceptible to the satisfaction of his own interests than in case of monarchy.

The third principle. While sovereign is able to maintain public safety, he may punish the inhabitants of his state according to his will (Hobbes, 1668). To confirm this, I want to mention that citizens should rebel against the state only if it is unable to keep the peace and only to replace bad despotism by capable despotism and refuse again from all their rights later.

Hobbes' ideology in other areas should be briefly described.

According to Hobbes, the only subject of philosophy is the body, only the material and finite objects exist. God is unknowable, and philosophy cannot judge him. In ethics, Hobbes, like most materialists, proclaimed the relativity of morality. Absolute good does not exist. The concept of good is reduced with a daily sense of beauty and utility, it is not based on lofty ideals.

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I do not agree with Hobbes in the area of ethics and theology. To my mind, the universality of moral and ethical law, the verity of the idea of God existence can be proved using the ideology of Hobbes. He argued that will as perception arises from the impressions of the outer world. Thoughts are movements within the person; they are based on the senses (Hobbes, 1668). I believe a person can object it, exploring one’s own senses. Hobbes said that senses cannot confirm the existence of moral and God, I argue that they can. Senses confirm the existence of universal internal law – conscience. This law is universal, it forces senses to approve moral behavior, which can be useless for me and profitable for another person, the behavior of victimhood. Thus, Hobbes showed simplified materialistic scheme, he characterized the idea only from one side.


Thomas Hobbes is a great English thinker. He made a number of empirical exercises about materialism, ethics, theology, psychology, history, etc. However, his theory of the state deserves special attention. Hobbes declared state, which gives absolute power over his subjects to the sovereign, who has the ability to concentrate the executive, legislative and judicial power in his hands on the basis of the contract among all members of society. This theory was largely influenced by the historical context of the activities of Hobbes, which confirms the thesis of the research paper.

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