Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes biography
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Thomas Hobbes biography

Thomas Hobbes (April 5, 1588 – December 4, 1679), English philosopher. Thomas was born in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England. His father served as vicar of Charlton and Westport, towns near Malmesbury. Due to a confrontation with another vicar had to move to London, unfortunately for economic reasons had to go alone. As a consequence, at seven years of age, Thomas Hobbes was left under the tutelage of his unmarried uncle Francis, his father’s older brother, who was engaged in trade. His uncle provided him with all the love and support he needed.

Thomas Hobbes entered the private school of Robert Latimer, where he showed his intellectual gifts and his passion for classical studies. At fourteen, in 1603, Uncle Francis gave him the money to study at Magdalen Hall, Oxford where he studied scholasticism and philosophical logic, which foundation was the Aristotelian philosophy, for which Hobbes showed no enthusiasm. He showed more interest in the ideas of the mechanics of the universe and in Cartesianism, common among the intellectuals of the time. He finished his career five years later, was appointed as the tutor of William Cavendish, with whom he maintained a close relationship; a friendship that allowed him to know, thanks to the intellectual circles of Cavendish, Galileo Galilei. In 1610, at the request of Cavendish, he undertook a trip through France, Italy, and Germany.

Thanks to this trip he observed first hand the little impact of the scholastic enjoyed, already in remarkable decadence. Rather, he observes that unlike his country were embracing new philosophical trends, innovative and surprising approaches, in short. When he returned to England decided to deepen the study of the classics, in addition, to openly defend the monarchical power of King Charles II. At that time, he became Cavendish’s secretary, which made him have more money and time, using this to devote more time to his studies. His spirit with curiosity led him to meet Francis Bacon, who reinforces his lack of interest in Aristotelianism and scholasticism.

In 1628, William Cavendish died, so that Thomas Hobbes became tutor to the son of Sir Gervase Clinton of Nottinghamshire, a prominent politician, and civil servant, for some years. In 1629, he published the translation of Thucydides, with it Hobbes sought to warn the English about the dangers of democracy, in favor of the monarchical regime. Between 1629 and 1631 he was again in Europe, where he discovered the value of geometry and the opportunity to apply it to his method to defend his social and political ideas. He had to take refuge for several years in Paris due to the struggle between parliamentarians and realists. At this time he wrote his objections to the “Metaphysical Meditations” of Descartes, at his request, this was also published in his work De Cive in 1642.

On his return, he became the tutor of the third Duke of Devonshire, a position he held until 1642. During this time he was part of the intellectual circle of Father Mersenne, mentor of Descartes and Gassendi, with whom he established a good friendship, through this he knows Roberval, reputed mathematician of the time. This allowed that Hobbes inclined by the mechanistic tendencies of the universe, in front of the teleological ideas defended by the Aristotelians and the scholastic one. Thanks to the influence of Galileo, he developed his postulate of social philosophy, based on the principles of geometry and natural science.

In 1646, again in Paris, he was the tutor of mathematics, during the next two years, of the Prince of Wales, who had also gone into exile in Paris. There Thomas Hobbes will remain until 1651. From this time is his famous publication of Leviathan. This work was developed with splendid mastery, the author speaks of a biblical monster feared to explain and justify the existence of an absolutist state that subjugates its citizens.

In short, Leviathan is a manual on human nature and the organization of society. His work has been of great inspiration in political science and in the evolution of social law. This publication caused great disputes with John Bramhall, Bishop of Derry who wrote multiple treatises; among them, three against the postulates of Hobbes in the Leviathan.

In 1665, published De Corpore will lead to a controversy with prominent members of the Royal Society. First of all, for the relationship between philosophy and mathematics, and second for his defense of atheism. Hobbes De Corpore defended a materialist conception, stating that only bodies are possible objects for a reason since everything that exists is corporeal. For Thomas Hobbes, it is only real what can act or suffer the action of another. In this measure, even God must be corporeal. A determinism is noticed here since everything when it happens is due to an absolute need.

In 1668, he published his work entitled Behemoth, but he was quickly forbidden from disclosing it. In 1672, he finished his autobiography. Three years later he will publish the translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey into Latin. His life ends on December 4, 1679, at Hardwick May, at the age of 91 years. Although, he was a polemic man, who generated diverse dissertations between the intellectuals of his time. The Church of England and the University of Oxford attacked him openly for his claims about the absence of the soul. The animosity was such that many of his books were burned in various parts of England.

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