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Leviathan

hobbes, philosophy, civil and english

LEVIATHAN, The. Hobbes' (Levia than) appeared in 1651 at the end of the civil war which left Cromwell in power. In many ways it was the child of these rebellious times, though it was not, as is sometimes charged, a defense of the Stuart monarchy. Far from be ing a mere political tract the stands as the first original treatise on politics and ethics since Aristotle.

Hobbes undertook the task of deducing a naturalistic theory of the state as an integral part of his naturalistic philosophy, an under taking which marks him as the only English philosopher, with the exception of Spencer, who produced a system of philosophy.

The first part, "On Man," may be said to lay the foundation of modern psychology. It proceeds from a discussion of elementary sen sation to an analysis of the °interior beginnings of voluntary motions commonly called the pas sions," whereby we may conceive the natural condition of mankind from which the state has been generated through the "laws of nature." The political doctrine for which Hobbes is best known is briefly that man is by nature in a state of war where there exists no distinction of right and wrong. Such a state, however, is intolerable and reason directs that man give up his natural liberties for the sake of peace and security. Mankind accordingly transfer their

natural rights to an absolute sovereign power whose decrees are the measure of justice and in justice. The inconvenience of such absolute rule is. for Hobbes, not to be compared with the evils of civil war. Not only civil custom but also divine worship are regulated by the sovereign though Hobbes himself laid the foundations of a philosophy of religion.

The fourth and last division of the book is a spirited attack on the Roman Catholic Church under the pleasing caption the Kingdom of Darkness' and brought the author into disfa vor with the Royalists.

Hobbes considered himself the founder of social science and certainly the 'Leviathan' had a most potent influence in stimulating thought for a century and more. It attracted unusual attention during Hobbes' lifetime, even to the calling down of an investigation by Parliament.

There are no special treatises on the