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Thomas Hobbes


English philosopher, mathematician, and linguist. Hobbes was born of an impoverished clerical family in Malmesbury,
Wiltshire. At school he quickly excelled, making a reputation as a linguist and fluent poet and translator. After Oxford he entered the the employment of William Cavendish, and except for a short interval remained secretary, tutor, and general advisor to the family for the rest of his career. His employment included several "Grand Tours" during which he met the leading European intellectuals of his time. As a spokesman for the royalist Devonshires, Hobbes was caught up in the turmoil preceding the Civil War, and fled to France in 1640, remaining there until 1651. Because of his writings, especially Leviathan, Hobbes lived in serious danger of prosecution after the restoration of Charles II. Hobbes's principal interests in his later years were translations, and he lived out his old age at the Devonshire's home.


During his period in France he published the short Elements of Law, partly as a kind of brief for his patrons to use on behalf of the sovereign, but also as a general statement of his philosophy. He was also busy on a major treatise to be known as the Elements of Philosophy. Part III of this was published as The Citizen in 1642. On Matter appaered in 1956, and Man in 1658. Human nature had appeared in 1650, and his most famous work, the shocking Leviathan, was published in 1651.

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