Francis Bacon: Essays
Seneca: Medea

Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan

Leviathan_by_Thomas_HobbesLeviathan by Thomas Hobbes is one of the outstanding works of political theory in the English language. It develops an early social contract theory to argue that human beings must put themselves under a single absolute sovereign as the only way out of a state of nature in which life is famously said to be 'nasty, brutish and short'.

For much of Hobbes' life such an argument would have been seen as favourable to the Stuart monarchy. By the time of Leviathan's publication in 1651, however, it could be read as supporting the effective authority of Cromwell's Commonwealth. Hobbes was acordingly repudiated by former associates among the exiled royalist court in Paris.

His time in France was nevertheless fruitful through associations with the leading philosophers and scientists of the day. This is reflected in the mechanical philosophy of the opening pages of Leviathan, in which living things are compared to automata, and the state to an artificial man, a figure memorably illustrated in the book's original frontispiece.

Leviathan at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: Leviathan, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Leviathan. Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Hobbes's Leviathan, edited by W.G. Pogson Smith (1909). Multiple formats.

Online Library of Liberty: Leviathan, edited by W.G. Pogson Smith (1909). Multiple formats. Leviathan (first five chapters) - from the Cambridge Revised Student Edition, Edited by Richard Tuck, 1996. HTML format.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Leviathan. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Leviathan. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 Great Lives: Thomas Hobbes. Matthew Parris, with Steven Pinker and Noel Malcolm.

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Hobbes. Melvyn Bragg with Quentin Skinner, David Wootton and Annabel Brett.

British Library: Taking Liberties - Hobbes' Leviathan. (Archived).

The Guardian: The 100 best nonfiction books: No 94 – Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (1651), by Robert McCrum, 20 Nov 2017.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Hobbes, Thomas - Moral and Political Philosophy, by Gareth Williams.

Librivox: Leviathan - public domain audiobook.

Online Library of Liberty: Oakeshott’s Introduction to Leviathan. HRML format.

PhilPapers: Thomas Hobbes - bibliography with open access option. 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Hobbes's Moral and Political Philosophy, by Sharon A. Lloyd, Susanne Sreedhar.

Wikipedia: Leviathan (Hobbes book)

Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Spinoza: Theologico-Political Treatise

Locke: Two Treatises of Government

John Aubrey: Brief Lives - includes a life of Hobbes.

Bloom's Western Canon: Leviathan is listed.

Authors referred to in Leviathan

Plato: Republic

Aristotle: Physics - Metaphysics - De Anima - Politics - Ethics

Cicero: De Oratore - De Divinatione - Pro Caecina - Pro Balbo

Livy: From the Foundation of the City

Virgil: The Aeneid

Josephus: Against Apion

Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History

St Augustine

St Jerome: Vulgate Bible

Bede: Ecclesiastical History

Francisco De Suarez: De Concurso, Motione et Auxilio Dei

Edward Coke: Institutes

Robert Bellarmine: Disputationes

John Selden: On Titles of Honour


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