He was a mid-17th-century philosopher considered one of the greatest political philosophers. Even Karl Marx acknowledged that Hobbes is the father of us all.
Born: 5 April 1588, Westport, Wiltshire
Died: 4 December 1679, Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Influenced: Antonio Negri
Influenced by: Niccolò Machiavelli, Aristotle, René Descartes, Plato, Francis Bacon
Life Sketch and Accomplishments of Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes life covers one of the most exciting periods of English history, the period of the English Revolution.
He was fifteen when James I ascended the throne and seriously attempted to revive absolute monarchy by advocating the theory of the Divine right of kings and ignoring Parliament.
It led to general dissatisfaction in the country; the ground for the conflict between the King and Parliament was well prepared. This conflict started in 1642 and continued till 1688, when a constitutional monarchy was established under William of Orange and his wife, Mary.
Hobbes was a witness to this whole exciting drama which exercised a profound influence on his thought and led him to lay stress the necessity of a strong and stable government as the prime condition of civilized and progressive life on the part of the subjects.
Later he became a tutor to the heir of William Cavendish, who later on became the Earl of Devonshire. This connection with the Cavendish family lasted for most of his life and brought him into contact with the leading figures of the period like Bacon, Descartes, and Galileo.
Like most 17th-century thinkers, Hobbes came under the spell of Geometry and thought of applying its method in explaining natural phenomena and the sphere of psychology and politics. He was thus drawn into the great movement of thought known as “the new philosophy ‘with which the names of great men like Descartes and Galileo were associated.
When the civil war broke out in England, Hobbes got alarmed, fled from England, and sought safety in France, where he remained for eleven years. As an exiled person, he wrote his greatest work, the Leviathan, published in 1651.
As the contents of Leviathan became known, he fell into disfavor with the royalists and the parliamentarians. Hobbes did not support either the theory of the Divine right of kings and the principle of legitimacy, which constituted the main line of the defense of the royalists, or the theory of popular representation advocated by the parliamentarians.
With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, he was again received at the royal court. But this royal favor did not continue for long. For convenience, the King put a sort of ban on his political In work. He spends the last two decades of his retirement life writing treatises on physics, history, law, and classical literature.
The views expressed in his two major works, The Civic and Society and Leviathan, favored the idea of monarchial government. Still, he did not endorse the prevalent theory of divine rights of King given by Robert Filmer to justify King’s absolute authority.