Thomas Hobbes and His Influence on Political and Philosophical Thought

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The renaissance and the reformation of the 16th century ushered in an era of unprecedented intellectualism and secularism in Europe. However, political leadership remained rooted in conservative tradition entwined with religious rules and rituals. Intellectuals and philosophers of the 17th century sought to change this and have since been revered as the enlightenment thinkers. But one enlightenment thinker stood out as a supporter of tradition, hierarchy, and monarchy. Thomas Hobbes is recognized as one of the most controversial philosophers of the 16th and 17th centuries. He is most recognized for his book Leviathan, which was written in 1651 following the English Civil War. In his book, Hobbes argues that that the primitive state of man is naturally evil, self-centered, and greedy. He believed that without a strong monarch held in check by the elite, chaos and war would ensue. Hobbes’ unorthodox thinking sparked debates with many intellectual adversaries, particularly John Locke, who argued that men were innately social creatures who could cooperate and coexist peacefully. Ultimately the works of Hobbes set the stage for a new topic of thought amongst philosophers of his era – man’s innate state of nature and its relevance to the governing of society. In Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, He argued that in the natural state of nature, without society or a governing body, man is innately evil. Hobbes believes that without the constraints of order or a common authority, men are driven into a state of chaos, conflict, and war against each other. Hobbes states that there are three principals in the innate state of nature which can cause such chaos and conflict; “…competition, diffidence, and glory.” Furthermore, Hobbes argues that this chaos and conflict is further motivated by man’s moral obligations, religious positions, and their respective rights to property.
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