THOMAS HOBBES (1588-1679)

Hobbes studied the scholastic philosophy at Oxford and was eight years older than Descartes.
Hobbes went to Paris many times, got acquainted with Gassendi and Mersenne and Descartes.
Hobbes was greatly influenced by Galileo and Descartes.
In England, Cromwell’s revolution took place and It was the republics from 1649-1660 and Hobbes was supportive of the absolute monarchy due to that political turmoil.
Hobbes was a materialist and a skeptic.
Hobbes attacked the Scholastic philosophy
which, according to Hobbes, is a meaningless play with meaningless words.

1) Leviathan 1651

2) Elementa philosophiae
a) de corpore (1655)
b) de homine (1658)
c) de cive (1642,1654)

3) elements of Law natural and politie (1640)

4) Liberty and Necessityl (1646, 1654)


Defined from the method, according to Hobbes,
Philosophy is the cognition either of the effect from its cause (=deduction)
or of the cause from its effects (=induction)
by the proper employment of reason


The center of Hobbes’ metaphysics (=the doctrine of being) is the concept of BODY

Defined from its object,
is the science of Body and its motion.

Any being is a body and
any phenomenon is motion.

Anything real which is a body (=material entity) applies even to a point or a line.

Spirit is a matter too fine to the senses.
or it is considered a motion of a certain portion of an organism. so is feeling and emotion.

If the body and its motion are the proper objects of philosophy,
The only correct method of philosophy must be the mathematical.

Hobbes recognized the significance of mathematics and corrected Bacon’s weakness.

The human-being is the most perfect body and it is an element of the body called the state.

Hobbes’ metaphysics is a clear statement of materialism.


The most primary in the process of knowledge is our impression given to the sense.

The impression is caused by the external motion and will reach the heart and will create a reaction.

The sensation thus caused in us is purely subjective, exists only in our mind and does not correspond to (is not a copy of) the external cause.

Hobbes distinguished the secondary qualities
the primary qualities which are to be inferred from those impressions.

Hobbes was a nominalist.
Nominalism is the philosophical position such that the universals such as being, justice, number, etc. do not exist, but only words.
The universals are created by the humans.

According to Hobbes,

Words have meanings only when they are associated, directly or indirectly, with qualities of sense or feeling.

The qualities of sense or feeling are produced by the motions of bodies acting on our body:

These motions leave traces, and associations are made.

This engenders memory and imagination, which is “nothing but decaying sense.”

Memory is the sensation to have sensed something.

Experience is something such that the totality of perceptions retained in memory is connected to the foresight which predicts a future event.

The animals also possess the same ability.

the human-being being capable of the pursuit of knowledge (sciences) is due to our linguistic ability.

The humans have the ability and learn to attach names to their imaginations and
to use signs

Hobbes developed the theory of mind only the basis of the facts of memory and imagination

Reasoning is mere calculation, = the manipulation of signs
reasoning is said to be correct if the same signs are constantly attached to the same image. [NB]

imagination = an image or an idea, according to Hobbes.

Mathematics is the model of all knowledge.

Moral Philosophy

Hobbes took the position of Determinism (the doctrine which holds that our will does not have freedom, but is totally causally determined by the preceding conditions).

There are two different kinds of reaction that the human heart has upon the impression of an object.

– The one which is a logical reaction is called sensation
-The other which are practical reactions are called feelings of pleasure and pain.

Deliberation is the name for the interchanges of different desires.

Will is the name which is given to the strongest, the most winning desire

Freedom means that without any external hindrance an action is made from the will.
therefore, the action is necessarily resulted from the winning desire.

All motion is a consequence of the totality of the preceding motions.

Good is that which is desired.
Evil is that which is hated.
Therefore, nothing is either good or evil in itself.

What is good or evil is relative to a particular person, in a particular place, in a particular time and in the particular circumstances.

The standard of Good and Evil exists, therefore, only in a given society, in a given state.

What the law permits is good,
What the law prohibits is evil.
Good is in general profitable.

In the State of Nature where there is no (positive=man-made) law and nothing is prohibited,

Nature gave everyone the right to everything.

In other words,
The scope of one’s right was the scope of one’s power.

The transition from the State of Nature to the Civil State the State of War.

By Nature, the human being is not a social animal as Aristotle held.
The human being is Selfish.

In the State of War, we are fighting each other over the each one’s rights and try to deprive others of their rights by destroying their lives.
The strongest would win and would subjugate others to slavery or even to their death. [cf. Hegel’s maste-slave dialectic]

the Fear and the Calculation of the people lead people to move to the Civil State or to form a Civil Government.
The political organization is the artificial human product of the Fear of Death and Calculation of one’s benefit.

The highest Good is Self Preservation.
Such goods as friendship, wealth, wisdom, science or power is secondarily and is valuable as long as it is beneficial to Self Preservation.

In the State of Nature, Preservation of One’s Life and Health is lacking.
The State of Nature immediately moves to the State of War (bellum omnium contra omnes).
Everyone is fighting for one’s own happiness by killing each other.
In this State of War, even the strongest among them may not be safe.
Reason of People dictates to seek Peace and establish an Ordered Society.

The Preconditions for Peace is The Law of Nature, but in itself is not sufficient to guarantee the actual Peace. The Law of Nature actualizes itself by supplemented by the Positive Laws such that everyone in the given society is giving up all the other Natural Rights than the Right to Life for the sake of Protection of Life.

The Civil State comes into existence by the Covenant.
This Covenant is possible 1) by giving up all the other rights and freedom
2) by transferring all those rights and Subordination to One Will which by representing the rest of the subject will act for the Protection of the subject’s Life.

This is the Absolute Monarchy.

The evils resulted from the Absolute Monarchy is better than
the evils in the State of War.

The Absolute Monarch determines what is good or evil by Laws and Teachings
and what to believe.
The Religion which is not approved by the State is Superstition.
The Monarch is the highest Priest, while the other priests are his subordinates.
the community which consists of the humans is called a State,
the community which consists of the Christians is called a Church.

The Subject should not question of whether or not the doctrines established by laws are true.


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