Leviathan: Or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 18, 2008 - Philosophy - 555 pages

A cornerstone of modern western philosophy, addressing the role of man in government, society and religion

In 1651, Hobbes published his work about the relationship between the government and the individual. More than four centuries old, this brilliant yet ruthless book analyzes not only the bases of government but also physical nature and the roles of man.

Comparable to Plato's Republic in depth and insight, Leviathan includes two society-changing phenomena that Plato didn't dare to dream of -- the rise of great nation-states with their claims to absolute sovereignty, and modern science, with its unprecedented analytic power. To Hobbes, the leviathan -- a mythical sea creature described in the Old Testament -- represented his central thesis: that the state must be strong in order to control and protect its citizens. Even today, Hobbes's thesis in Leviathan is debated among scholars and philosophy aficionados around the globe.

One of the earliest attempts at a genuinely scientific understanding of politics and society in their modern form, this book also remains one of the most stimulating. In his timeless work, Hobbes outlines his ideas about the passions and the conduct of man, and how his theories are realized in every individual. Addressing free will and religion, Hobbes constructs an intelligent argument for the basis of religion within government and how to organize a peaceful and successful Christian commonwealth.

Like Plato's Republic, this book contains ideas on psychology, ethics, law, language, and religion that continue to challenge modern thinkers and exercise a profound influence on Western thought. A classic treatise of philosophy, Leviathan is critical reading for anyone who wishes to examine the human mind through the prisms of government and society.
 

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Contents

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Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Thomas Hobbes was born in Malmesbury, the son of a wayward country vicar. He was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and was supported during his long life by the wealthy Cavendish family, the Earls of Devonshire. Traveling widely, he met many of the leading intellectuals of the day, including Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, and Rene Descartes. As a philosopher and political theorist, Hobbes established---along with, but independently of, Descartes---early modern modes of thought in reaction to the scholasticism that characterized the seventeenth century. Because of his ideas, he was constantly in dispute with scientists and theologians, and many of his works were banned. His writings on psychology raised the possibility (later realized) that psychology could become a natural science, but his theory of politics is his most enduring achievement. In brief, his theory states that the problem of establishing order in society requires a sovereign to whom people owe loyalty and who in turn has duties toward his or her subjects. His prose masterpiece Leviathan (1651) is regarded as a major contribution to the theory of the state.

Bibliographic information