Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hobbes, Thomas, born in 1588, was brought up by his uncle, who sent hien to Magdalen Hall, Oxford. There he seems to have learned little but contempt for scholastic pedantry and aggressive Puritanism. In 1608 he became tutor to William Cavendish, Baron Hardwick, afterwards Earl of Devonshire, and accompanied him abroad for some years, acquiring thus a knowledge of the new intellectual forces that were breaking up throughout Europe the barren system of the schoolmen. Under the influence of this awakening spirit, he resolved to make himself a classical scholar, and in this aim he persisted until 1629, when he published his translation of Thucydides, a work of considerable merit. For a time, meanwhile, he had been one of Bacon's secretaries, and had been much esteemed by him. His friend and pupil having now died, he again set out on a foreign tour with a youth named Clifton, and in the course of his reading became for the first time acquainted with Euclid's Elements, which gave a fresh impulse to his speculations. In 1631 he was called upon to take charge of the third Earl of Devonshire, son of his old pupil, and three years later set out with him for Italy and France, visiting Galileo and starting a correspondence with Descartes. By this time his mind was gradually shaping itself to definite ends, and at the age of fifty he had worked out the ground-plan of a novel philosophical system in which physical, metaphysical, moral, and political laws were to be explained as dependent upon motion, without which none of the phenomena of Nature could be distinguished by sense. As, however, the events of his time and the circumstances of his own life gave his thoughts a political bias, he began to construct his philosophical fabric from the top, and the earliest completed portions of the scheme were Human Nature and De Corpore Politico, in which authority - meaning for the moment the sovereignty and royal prerogative - is recognised as the basis of government and society. Neither of these works was published till ten years later, but they were read and talked about, so that the author deemed it advisable to retire to France when the Parliamentary cause showed its strength. He remained for eleven years in Paris. Meanwhile he worked at another instalment of his work, the De Cive, which was published at Amsterdam in 1647, though completed long before. With a view to adapting his theories to current events and to appealing to a larger audience, he next composed his famous Leviathan, the leading idea of which is that all individual human beings are built up into one gigantic organism, the State, the cementing power being self-interest only, and all civil and ecclesiastical authority being centred in the crowned head. Thus the work is virtually a defence of absolute monarchy against the Puritans, and of the Royal supremacy against Catholics and Independents. Hobbes went home once more in 1652, when he was welcomed by his old pupil the Earl of Devonshire; in 1655 he produced De Corpore,. the treatise with which his life's labour should have begun, but this was preceded by one of his most brilliant essays, Of Liberty and Necessity, in which he combated the doctrine of freedom of the will. About 1674 he retired to Chatsworth or Hardwick, and such was his vigour that he composed Behemoth: or a History of the Civil Wars from 1640 to 1660, and translated the whole of the Iliad and Odyssey, though long past eighty. He was hard at work when paralysis struck him down in his ninety-second year (1679).