Leviathan summary

In the field of political philosophy, it is known by the name of Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, the most recognisable work in English of the  philosopher Thomas Hobbes, which was first published in 1651, thanks to the work of the publisher Andrew Crooke.


Why Leviathan?

In relation to the title of this work, some authors have drawn attention, since Leviathan is the name of an animal named in the Old Testament, which is described as a diabolical animal, created by God, and which lives in the depths of the sea , where he lies asleep.

The reason Hobbes chooses precisely the image of this sea monster to headline his work on his ideal description of what the state should be is is for some critics an initial justification for the idea of absolute state, and how this notion gives way to the necesi social contract, which lays the foundations of modern law, society and the idea of government.


Hobbes Leviathan Summary

With regard to the content of this work by Thomas Hobbes, it can basically be said that it consists of four books, each of which serves to make its author express his idea about the nature of man, the behavior of man in society, the the need for an absolute state and a social contract governing the lives of men, in peace and harmony, as far as possible. However, it may be helpful to briefly review the contents of each of these four parts, as below:

Part I: Of the Man

During the first part of the Leviathan, Hobbes will be in charge of exposing his vision of man as a social being, as well as an individual of desires, governed by passion and a desire for power, a situation that leads to men – according to this philosopher – living in a latent state of war, since as this philosopher expresses, “man is the wolf of man.”

Likewise, it is during this part of the work that this political philosopher exposes his 19 laws of human nature, each of which will profoundly influence Western political philosophy, while justifying or giving rise to this philosopher’s approach to the need for a social contract.

Part II: of the State

For his part, having exposed how man is a being of desire, who by coming into contact with other men, experiences the rivalry that leads to war, Hobbes then raises the need for a pact or social contract that comes to mediate and set the limits d and cohabitation.

It also indicates the need for a state to exercise power, place boundaries and guide healthy coexistence. However, the State thought of by Hobbes – which may be either a Monarchy, an Aristocracy or a Democracy – must be an absolute state, which doesn´t contemplate the separation of powers, and which assumes some restrictions in the name of the common good of the people, even if the man has very little margin for free will, which is equally justified if it is thought that this would lead to greater and collective well-being.

Part III: of the Christian State

During the third part of the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes addresses how the interpretation of the divine word can also be a reason for war, for while it is assumed that it comes directly from God, it has come to man through man, which it can bring differences and a break from harmony. In this way, an organized and peaceful state cannot depend on religion and its interpretation, hence for this political philosopher the ideal is that the church is subject at all times to the power of the state, and never the other way around.

Part IV: On the Realm of Darkness

Finally, Thomas Hobbes establishes a strong critique of the church, as well as the danger of falling into ignorance – which this philosopher compares to darkness – because of a misinterpretation of the scriptures, which beyond making the message of religion understand wrongway, man acts wrongly, moving away from the light of wisdom and knowledge, to sink into the realm of darkness.

This is a delicately written chapter, since even though Hobbes managed to expose how the Church and fanaticism could plunge the people or citizen into ignorance, were saved from opposing the Church, or being accused of heresy, masterfully arguing that the danger itself was not faith or the Church, but the misconduct of some representatives, who followed dangerous traditions, as well as the misinterpretation of the scriptures.

It is a book that is worth reading and that every lover of Philosophy should reflect, as it offers a very interesting perspective of the mysteries. If you liked this article, share it on your social networks and tell us your opinion about the subject, in the comments box.

Picture: Portrait of Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan / Source: wikipedia.org

Leviathan summary
Source: Education  
September 22, 2019


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