Leviathan Reply

One of the most interesting things about Thomas Hobbes is that while he was writing in the context of the English Civil War, he rarely if ever took sides between the quarreling dynastic and clerical factions, and when he did it was obviously for cynical and pragmatic. Probably because he recognized all the factions as collections of idiots, lunatics, and morons, not unlike our present situation.

But the regrettable thing about Hobbes is that he provided modern states with the first principle of their self-legitimating ideological superstructure (so-called “social contract” theory) as opposed to previous dynastic and theocratic claims of legitimacy. Social contract theory was debunked centuries ago, even if most modern people continue to believe in it, just like many continue to believe in astrology and the four-leaved clover.
Leviathan (Hobbes book) - Wikipedia

“During the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called Warre”


Written during the turmoil of the English Civil War, Leviathan is an ambitious and highly original work of political philosophy. Claiming that man’s essential nature is competitive and selfish, Hobbes formulates the case for a powerful sovereign—or “Leviathan”—to enforce peace and the law, substituting security for the anarchic freedom he believed human beings would otherwise experience. This worldview shocked many of Hobbes’s contemporaries, and his work was publicly burnt for sedition and blasphemy when it was first published. But in his rejection of Aristotle’s view of man as a naturally social being, and in his painstaking analysis of the ways in which society can and should function, Hobbes opened up a whole new world of political science.

Based on the original 1651 text, this edition incorporates Hobbes’s own corrections, while also retaining the original spelling and punctuation, to read with vividness and clarity. C. B. Macpherson’s introduction elucidates one of the most fascinating works of modern philosophy for the general reader.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Available here.

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