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(April 5, 1588 - December 4, 1679)
- Magdalen Hall, Oxford University, 1608, B.A.
- 1608, became tutor of William Cavendish, later Earl of Devonshire
- 1640, authored The Elements of Law, Nature & Politic, a defense
of the monarchy, caused him to voluntarily exile himself to Paris for
- 1646-1648, math tutor to Prince of Wales, later King Charles II, who
was also in exile in Paris
Ideas and Contributions
Thomas Hobbes was one of the first modern Western thinkers, the first
in the line of British empiricists. He is also known for his English verse
translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. His writing provided
a secular explanation of the political state, and denoted the departure
in English philosophy from Scholasticism with its religious emphasis.
Hobbes believed that understanding the psychology of individuals was necessary
before one could develop an understanding of the state and government.
He believed that humans are fearful and predatory, and must submit completely
to the supremacy of the state in both secular and religious concerns.
Hobbes asserted that there is a difference between knowledge and faith,
which resulted in charges of atheistic tendencies. He is considered the
first modern social psychologist because of his emphasis on the relationship
between the individual and society. (Microsoft Encarta)
Hobbes attempted to explain human motivation by applying mechanistic
principles [a philosophy that attempts to explain the universe as mechanical
processes or movement], thereby contributing to psychology and laying
the foundations of sociology. He also stressed the role of experience
as the source of human knowledge. He theorized that all human actions
are based on material phenomena. Hobbes concluded that humans were stimulated
by "appetite" or movement toward an object, similar to pleasure and "aversion"
or movement away from an object, similar to pain. Hobbes's doctrine that
human behavior is directed by self-interest is now known as psychological
Hobbes rejected supernaturalistic beliefs and utilized the materialistic
explanation of mechanistic principles to explain all phenomena. He believed
that the mental processes were the result of the motion of brain atoms
activated by motions in the external world. He maintained that sensations
lead to simple ideas, and simple ideas merge to form complex ones. Basically,
all cognitions are transformed sensations. (Zusne)
Hobbes clearly stated the principle of association of ideas in terms
of temporal sequences or "trains" of thought, "coherence" (i.e., contiguity)
as a factor in association, habit and desire as guides of attention, repetition
as a factor in association, and distinguishes between free and controlled
association of ideas. . . . Hobbes stressed the motivational aspects of
passions and desires, especially the desire for power. He mentions the
fact that passions may distort reason, distinguishes between innate and
acquired emotions, and even outlines a theory of humor and laughter. (Zusne,
- Humaine Nature (1650)
- Leviathan orThe Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth
Ecclesiastical and Civil (1651)
- Behemoth: The History of the Causes of Civil Wars of England
Dialogues Between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of
- Historia Ecclesiastica
References: 15, 27, 29
Image reprinted from Robertson, G.C. (1886). Hobbes. London: William Blackwood & Sons
Thursday, 14-Nov-2013 04:39:10 EST