Leviathan - by Thomas Hobbes - PDF ebook


Leviathan - by Thomas Hobbes

The matter, forme, and power of a commonwealth ecclesiasticall and civill

Review by Czarny Pies
Both the conclusions and methodology of "Leviathan" are shocking to the modern reader. Writing in the seventeenth century, Hobbes attacked medieval political philosophy and religion. However, unlike the enlightenment philosophers, he did not base his arguments on the classical authors of Greece and Rome. Instead, he made it clear that he considered them to be as much in the wrong as the medieval scholastics.

Thus starting from zero, Hobbes then developed the doctrine that every nation or commonwealth requires an undivided sovereign. To the contemporary reader, Hobbes seems to be arguing that we would all be best living in a totalitarian regime. 

In Hobbes view, men are evil wishing by instinct to dominate and exploit their fellow men. Hence every commonwealth needs to be ruled by a strong sovereign to protect the members of the commonwealth from each other. The sovereign can be a single person, an aristocracy or a democracy. The single person system is best as it allows the most complete concentration of power. 

For Hobbes, a king and a tyrant are the same things. Thus the Greeks and Romans of the classical era were wrong to praise tyrannicide and condemn regicide. Both were equally wrong. The crime of the long parliament was not that it executed Charles I, the divinely chosen King of England, but that it killed the sovereign and ensured that civil war would resume in England. Cromwell's great virtue was that he ended the war and protected the English population. 

The supreme good for the commonwealth member is to support the sovereign. With the goal of demonstrating that the doctrine of the divine right of kings is nonsense, Hobbes devotes two of the four books of Leviathan to proving that religion is absurd. He fills pages referring to all the contradictions and absurdities in the Christian bible. 

He points out that there is no way to properly determine which texts belong in the bible and which do not. Even if one believes in God, one has to deal with the second problem which is that there is no way to prove the claims of any of those who claim to speak for God that they are indeed his representatives. Finally, Hobbes points out that the doctrine of the divine right of kings as defended by the Roman Catholic Church has no basis in scripture. Protestants, however, have little reason to be happy with Hobbes as he also demonstrates that many of their doctrines also lack basis in scripture.

The book details :
  • Author: Thomas Hobbes  -  was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, in which he expounds on an influential formulation of social contract theory.
  • Publication date:: 1881
  • Company: oxford: J. Thornton

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