Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, in which he expounds an influential formulation of social contract theory.
41 Facts About Hobbes
Hobbes is considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy.
Hobbes was a good pupil, and between 1601 and 1602 he went up to Magdalen Hall, the predecessor to Hertford College, Oxford, where he was taught scholastic logic and mathematics.
At university, Thomas Hobbes appears to have followed his own curriculum as he was little attracted by the scholastic learning.
Hobbes was recommended by Sir James Hussey, his master at Magdalen, as tutor to William, the son of William Cavendish, Baron of Hardwick, and began a lifelong connection with that family.
Hobbes served as a tutor and secretary to both men.
Hobbes became a companion to the younger William Cavendish and they both took part in a grand tour of Europe between 1610 and 1615.
Hobbes was exposed to European scientific and critical methods during the tour, in contrast to the scholastic philosophy that he had learned in Oxford.
In Venice, Hobbes made the acquaintance of Fulgenzio Micanzio, an associate of Paolo Sarpi, a Venetian scholar and statesman.
Hobbes visited Galileo Galilei in Florence while he was under house arrest upon condemnation, in 1636, and was later a regular debater in philosophic groups in Paris, held together by Marin Mersenne.
Hobbes's first area of study was an interest in the physical doctrine of motion and physical momentum.
Hobbes went on to conceive the system of thought to the elaboration of which he would devote his life.
Hobbes's scheme was first to work out, in a separate treatise, a systematic doctrine of body, showing how physical phenomena were universally explicable in terms of motion, at least as motion or mechanical action was then understood.
Hobbes then singled out Man from the realm of Nature and plants.
Hobbes came back home from Paris, in 1637, to a country riven with discontent, which disrupted him from the orderly execution of his philosophic plan.
Nevertheless, many elements of Hobbes's political thought were unchanged between The Elements of Law and Leviathan, which demonstrates that the events of the English Civil War had little effect on his contractarian methodology.
However, the arguments in Leviathan were modified from The Elements of Law when it came to the necessity of consent in creating political obligation: Hobbes wrote in The Elements of Law that Patrimonial kingdoms were not necessarily formed by the consent of the governed, while in Leviathan he argued that they were.
Hobbes then returned to hard work on the first two sections of his work and published little except a short treatise on optics, included in the collection of scientific tracts published by Mersenne as Cogitata physico-mathematica in 1644.
Hobbes built a good reputation in philosophic circles and in 1645 was chosen with Descartes, Gilles de Roberval and others to referee the controversy between John Pell and Longomontanus over the problem of squaring the circle.
Hobbes compared the State to a monster composed of men, created under pressure of human needs and dissolved by civil strife due to human passions.
Meanwhile, a translation of De Cive was being produced; scholars disagree about whether it was Hobbes who translated it.
Soon, Hobbes was more lauded and decried than any other thinker of his time.
Hobbes appealed to the revolutionary English government for protection and fled back to London in winter 1651.
In 1658, Hobbes published the final section of his philosophical system, completing the scheme he had planned more than 20 years before.
For some time, Hobbes was not even allowed to respond, whatever his enemies tried.
Hobbes spent the last four or five years of his life with his patron, William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, at the family's Chatsworth House estate.
Hobbes had been a friend of the family since 1608 when he first tutored an earlier William Cavendish.
Hobbes's body was interred in St John the Baptist's Church, Ault Hucknall, in Derbyshire.
Hobbes, influenced by contemporary scientific ideas, had intended for his political theory to be a quasi-geometrical system, in which the conclusions followed inevitably from the premises.
Hobbes rejected one of the most famous theses of Aristotle's politics, namely that human beings are naturally suited to life in a polis and do not fully realize their natures until they exercise the role of citizen.
In Leviathan, Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments and creating an objective science of morality.
This, Hobbes argues, would lead to a "war of all against all".
In 1654 a small treatise, Of Liberty and Necessity, directed at Hobbes, was published by Bishop John Bramhall.
In 1656, Hobbes was ready with The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance, in which he replied "with astonishing force" to the bishop.
Hobbes opposed the existing academic arrangements, and assailed the system of the original universities in Leviathan.
Hobbes went on to publish De Corpore, which contained not only tendentious views on mathematics but an erroneous proof of the squaring of the circle.
The religious opinions of Hobbes remain controversial as many positions have been attributed to him and range from atheism to Orthodox Christianity.
Hobbes was accused of atheism by several contemporaries; Bramhall accused him of teachings that could lead to atheism.
Hobbes says that this "sort of discrepancy has led to many errors in determining who was an atheist in the early modern period".
Hobbes argued that "though Scripture acknowledge spirits, yet doth it nowhere say, that they are incorporeal, meaning thereby without dimensions and quantity".
When he returned to England in 1615, William Cavendish maintained correspondence with Micanzio and Sarpi, and Hobbes translated the latter's letters from Italian, which were circulated among the Duke's circle.