HOBBES, Thomas

Born: April 5, 1588, in Westport, Wiltshire, England

Died: December 4, 1679, in Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, England

Thomas Hobbes was one of three children who were abandoned by their father, an irresponsible and sickly church vicar. They were cared for by their wealthy uncle in Malmesbury.

Hobbes early education included public school in Westport, private school and, at the age of fifteen, he was admitted to Magdalen Hall, Oxford. While at university, his studies focused on Greek and Roman authors to the exclusion of almost everything else. However, much of his spare time was devoted to the study cartography and travel books.

Upon graduation in 1608, he secured employment as a tutor to the second and third Earls of Devonshire. In the following years, he had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe and published a translation of Thucydides. As time passed, Hobbes became increasingly interested in philosophy and science and published A Short Tract on First Principles, his first known attempt at articulating philosophy.

His philosophies were not highly regarded by either the Church of England or the Puritan party who could generally be counted on to take opposing sides in most discussions of philosophy. Opposition to his philosophy grew so that in 1640 he was compelled to leave England and took up residence in Paris where he thought he would find more liberal attitudes toward his philosophy. Unfortunately, his publication of Leviathan in 1651 alienated even the exiled Royalists and he fled back to London fearing for his life. His return to London was uneventful and his safety seemed secure.

Hobbes persevered in his writing, producing a large body of work despite the intimidation of potential physical harm. His advancements of political theory and principles of psychological determinism are his most notable contributions to moral philosophy.