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.
“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.
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