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Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes Summary
Written by one of the founders of modern political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes, during the English civil war, Leviathan is an influential work of nonfiction. Regarded as one of the earliest examples of the social contract theory, Leviathan has both historical and philosophical importance. Social contract theory prioritizes the state over the individual, claiming that individuals have consented to the surrender of some of their freedoms by participating in society. These surrendered freedoms help ensure that the government can be run easily. In exchange for their sacrifice, the individual is protected and given a place in a steady social order. Articulating this theory, Hobbes argues for a strong, undivided government ruled by an absolute sovereign. To support his argument, Hobbes includes topics of religion, human nature and taxation. Separated into four sections, Hobbes claims his theory to be the resolution of the civil war that raged on as he wrote, creating chaos and taking causalities. The first section, Of Man discusses the role human nature and instinct plays in the formation of government. The second section, Of Commonwealth explains the definition, implications, types, and rules of succession in a commonwealth government. Of a Christian Commonwealth imagines the religion’s role government and societal moral standards. Finally, Hobbes closes his argument with Of the Kingdom of Darkness. Through the use of philosophical theory and historical study, Thomas Hobbes attempts to convince citizens to consider the cost and reward of being governed. Without an understanding of the sociopolitical theories that keep government bodies in power, subjects can easily become complicit or allow society to slip into anarchy. Created during a brutal civil war, Hobbes hoped to educate and persuade his peers. Though Leviathan was a work of controversy in its time, Hobbes’ theories and prose has survived centuries, shaping the ideas of modern philosophy. This edition of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is now presented with a stunning new cover design and is printed in an easy-to-read font. With these accommodations, Leviathan is accessible and applicable to contemporary readers.