• Born in Westport England, 1588
  • Hobbes’ father (a vicar) abandoned the family when Hobbes was young
  • Graduated from Magdalen Hall 1608
  • Tutor to young William Cavendish, with whom, he travelled through continental Europe
  • While spending time in Paris, Hobbes began to consider himself a philosopher
  • Wrote The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic while in Britain
  • Fled to France after the Parliamentarian victory in
  • While in France, he wrote Leviathan (1651)
  • Returned to a (forced) partial-retirement in England
    after publishing Leviathan
  • Died in 1679, uttering the words “A great leap in the


  • An analysis of the structure of society and of legitimacy of government
  • On of the first modern examples of the social contract theory, as well as the state of nature
  • Was written as a strong supporter of absolutism
  • Consists of four parts building onto each other
    1. Of Man
    2. Of Common-wealth
    3. Of a Christian Commonwealth
    4. Of the Kingdom of Darkness

Part 1: Of Man

  • Outlines the importance of perception for humans
    -What is “Good” is simply something that an individual likes, while “Evil” is something that an individual hates.
  • Hobbes describes man as selfish, greedy and only
    concerned with their own survival
  • Without society, man is a “state of nature” or “war”
  • Hobbes outlines three reasons for conflict during a
    state of nature: Competition, Diffidence and Glory.
  • Also highlights Hobbes’ laws of nature:
    1. Man should seek “peace”, but can use all rights
    while in a state of war.
    2. To obtain a state of “peace” an individual must give
    up some rights (The Social Contract)

Part 2: Of Commonwealth

  • The reason for a commonwealth is “…the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, in which we see them live in Commonwealths, is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life…”
  • Outlines the rights of the sovereign
    -Made to protect the sovereign and the state of “peace”
  • Speculates that there are only three true forms of commonwealth: Aristocracy, Democracy, and Monarchy
    -All other versions of such are a matter of perception (e.g. an Oligarchy)
  • States that a monarchy is the best system because:
    -Corruption is less likely because the success of the sovereign is dependent on the success of the people
    -It removes morals from decision making (Legal Positivism)
  • Suggests that taxation should be equivalent to how useful a
    person is to the commonwealth

Part 3 & 4: Of Christian Commonwealth and Of The Kingdom of Darkness

  • Religion is a matter of the state and sovereign
  • It is impossible to tell who truly has a divine right to rule
  • Therefore civil power trumps religious power
  • “Kingdom of Darkness” is the ignorance of knowledge and misinterpretation of religious text
  • Hobbes throws his support behind protestant ideas
  • Hobbes scolds the church for it’s denial of sciences
  • Only in matters of civil disorder should they be stopped
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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