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English philosopher-materialist Thomas Hobbes: biography (photo)

Thomas Hobbes, whose photo is presented in the article, was born in Malmesbury in 1588, on April 5. He was an English thinker-materialist. His concepts have spread in such scientific fields as history, physics and geometry, theology and ethics. Let's consider further, than Thomas Hobbes became known. A brief biography of the figure will also be described in the article.

Historical reference

Thomas Hobbes, whose biography is mostly filled with work on his work and the formulation of concepts, was born prematurely. This was due to his mother's anxiety approaching the Spanish armada to England. Nevertheless, he was able to live up to 91 years, retaining throughout all his years clarity of mind. Education was given to this figure in Oxford. He was interested in geographical maps, travel of seafarers. The ideas of Thomas Hobbes were formed under the influence of the outstanding thinkers of his time. In particular, he was familiar with Descartes, Gassendi, Mersenne. At one time he worked as a secretary at Bacon. Conversations with him had far from the last influence on the views of Thomas Hobbes. He was also interested in the works of Kepler and Galileo. With the latter, he met in Italy in 1637.

Thomas Hobbes: Biography

According to his world view, he was a monarchist. From 1640 to 1651. Thomas Hobbes was in exile in France. His basic concepts were formed under the influence of the bourgeois revolution in England. Returning to this country after the end of the civil war, he broke with the royalists. In London, Hobbes tried to ideologically substantiate the political activities of Cromwell, whose dictatorship was established after the revolution.

Human issues

Thomas Hobbes was very close to the events of his time. His main idea was peace and security of fellow citizens. The problems of society became a central element in the work that Thomas Hobbes began. The main ideas of the thinker concerned human issues. At the very beginning of his career, he planned to publish a trilogy. In the first part, the body was to be described, in the second part - the person, in the third - the citizen. The first volume, however, was the last one conceived. The treatise "About the citizen" was published in 1642. Work "On the body" was published in 1655, and three years later the "About the Man" part was published. In 1651, Leviathan was published - the most extensive and significant work that Thomas Hobbes created. Philosophy (briefly and in general form) was described to them in the initial chapters of the work. In the rest part, the issues of social and state structure were considered.

Thomas Hobbes: Briefly about the concept

The thinker complained about the insufficient progress of his predecessors. His work was to correct the existing unsatisfactory situation. He set the task of establishing the elements that will become the soil for the development of "true" and "pure" science, provided that the proposed method is used. So, he assumed the prevention of the appearance of erroneous concepts. Thomas Hobbes emphasized the importance of methodology in the field of scientific knowledge. These thoughts resonate with the worldview of Bacon, who opposed scholasticism. It should be noted that the interest in the methodology was characteristic of many figures of the 17th century.

Specificity of thought

It is difficult to name any one specific direction of science, the adherent of which was Thomas Hobbes. Philosophy of the thinker, on the one hand, was based on empirical research. On the other hand, he was a supporter of using the mathematical method. He applied it not only directly in exact science, but also in other areas of knowledge. First of all, the mathematical method was used by him in political science. This discipline included a body of knowledge about the social state that allowed the government to form and maintain peaceful conditions. Specificity of thought consisted, first of all, in using the method derived from the physics of Galileo. The latter applied mechanics and geometry in the analysis and prediction of phenomena and events in the physical world. All this Thomas Hobbes transferred to the field of study of human activity. He believed that in establishing certain facts about human nature, one can single out the ways of behavior of individuals in specific circumstances. People, in his opinion, should be studied as one of the aspects of the material world. As for human inclinations and passions, they can be investigated on the basis of physical displacements and their causes. The theory of Thomas Hobbes was based, therefore, on the principle deduced by Galileo. He argued that everything that exists is matter in motion.

The essence of the concept

The surrounding world, nature Hobbes regarded as a complex of extended bodies. Things, their changes, in his opinion, are due to the fact that material elements are moving. This phenomenon was understood by him as a mechanical movement. Movements are transmitted by push. He provokes an effort in the body. It, in turn, becomes a movement. Similarly, Hobbes interprets the spiritual life of people and animals, consisting of sensations. These provisions also express the mechanical concept of Thomas Hobbes.


Hobbes believed that it is carried out through "ideas". Their source is purely sensory perceptions of the surrounding world. No idea, Hobbes believed, can be congenital. At the same time, external senses, among other things, acted as cognition in general. The content of ideas can not depend on the human consciousness. The mind carries out active activity and processes thoughts through comparison, division, and connection. This concept formed the basis of the doctrine of knowledge. Similarly to Bacon, Hobbes focused on empirical interpretation, while joining the sensationalist position. He believed that in the human mind there is not a single concept that would initially arise partly or entirely in the senses. Hobbes believed that the acquisition of knowledge is carried out from experience. From the sensations, in his opinion, the whole science proceeded. Rational knowledge he considered the matter of feelings, false or genuine, expressed in words, and language. Judgments are formed by a combination of linguistic elements that designate sensations beyond which there is nothing.

Mathematical truths

Hobbes believed that for thinking in ordinary conditions it would be enough just to know the facts. However, this is very little for scientific knowledge. For this sphere, necessity and universality is required. They, in turn, are achieved exclusively by mathematics. It was with it that Hobbes identified scientific knowledge. But his own rationalist positions, which are similar to the Cartesian ones, he combined with the empirical concept. In his opinion, the achievement of truths in mathematics is carried out by words, and not by direct experience of feelings.

Importance of language

Hobbes actively developed this concept. He believed that any language is the result of a human agreement. Based on the positions of nominalism, the words were called names, which are inherent in convention. They acted for him in the form of an arbitrary label about a thing. When these elements acquire a common value for a group of people that are solid to a greater or lesser degree, they become the category of name-signs. In Leviathan, Hobbes said that for a person who is looking for an accurate truth, it is necessary to remember the designation of each name that he uses. Otherwise, he will fall into the trap of words. The more a person will spend energy to get out of it, the more will be entangled. The accuracy of words according to Hobbes should be defined by definitions, through which the elimination of ambiguity, but not intuition, as Descartes believed. By nominalistic concept, things or thoughts can be private. Words, in turn, can be shared. However, there is no "common" concept of nominalism.

Source of movement

Ontological views, through which the surrounding world was explained, ran into certain obstacles. In particular, difficulties arose in the issue of the source of motion. As God, God was declared in Leviathan and the treatise On the Citizen. The subsequent movement of things, according to Hobbes, occur regardless of him. The views of the thinker, therefore, were at variance with prevailing religious beliefs at the time.

The problems of mechanical materialism

As one of them came understanding of man. Hobbes viewed his life as an exclusively mechanical process. In it, the heart acted like a spring, nerves - like threads, joints - as wheels. These elements communicate the movement to the entire machine. The human psyche was fully explained mechanistically. The second issue was freedom of the will. Hobbes in his works answered him quite clearly and directly, in accordance with his principles. He said that everything happens because it is necessary. Part of this causal system are people. At the same time, human freedom can not be understood as independence from necessity. He said that the movement of the individual to the desired can have no obstacles. In this case, the action is considered free. If there are any obstacles, then the movement is limited. Speech in this case is about external problems. If the achievement of the desired is hampered by something within a person, then this is not considered a restriction of freedom, but appears as a natural defect of the individual.

Social sphere

It takes up a lot of space in Hobbes's philosophy. The "Leviathan" and the treatise "On the citizen" are devoted to the social aspect. Following some humanists, he focused on the role of the individual in the life of society. Chapter 13 "Leviathan" contains a description of the "natural state" of people. In him, that is, by nature, people differ little in their abilities from each other. However, Hobbes believes that the human being and nature itself are neither evil nor good. In the natural state, all individuals exercise the natural right to preserve life and avoid death. "The happiness of existence" is the constant success of the fulfillment of desires. However, it can not always be a calm content, because, according to Hobbes, life does not exist without feelings and needs. The natural state of people is that when you move to the desired one, each person encounters another individual. Aspiring to peace and security, people are constantly involved in conflicts. In its natural state, a person follows the natural laws of self-preservation. Everyone here has the right to everything that is able to receive with the use of force. This situation Hobbes treats as a war against all, when "man is another wolf."

Formation of the state

This, according to Hobbes, can contribute to a change in the situation. To survive, each individual must transfer part of his original freedom to the subject. In return for peace, he will exercise unlimited power. People give up part of the freedom in favor of the monarch. He, in turn, alone will ensure their social cohesion. As a result, the state of Leviathan is being formed. This powerful, proud, but mortal creature, which is the highest on Earth and obeys divine laws.


It is created by means of a social contract between the participating individuals. The centralized power maintains order in society and ensures the survival of the population. The treaty gives a peaceful existence only in one way. It is expressed in the concentration of all power and power in the assembly of certain people or in one individual who would be able to reduce all the wills of citizens into one. In this case, there are natural laws that limit the influence of the sovereign. All of them, according to Hobbes, 12. However, they are all united by the same thought that one should not do to another what a person would not wish to be realized with respect to himself. This moral norm was considered to be an important self-limiting mechanism for the constant human egoism, which made it necessary to reckon with its existence among the rest.


The social concept of Hobbes was criticized by contemporaries in various directions. First of all, they objected to the consideration of the human being as part of the matter in motion. A negative reaction was also caused by his gloomy illustration of human nature and the existence of individuals in a natural state. Criticized and his position on absolute power, the denial of the divine power of the sovereign and so on. Nevertheless, the historical significance of Hobbes's concepts and their impact on the lives of descendants are truly enormous.

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