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Leviathan: Or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil

Updated on November 4, 2011
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Alicia has been an Author, Columnist, and Reviewer for 10 years. Her success came from perseverance plus organized goal setting.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679)

Book Review

In 1651 Thomas Hobbes wrote and had published the Leviathan: Or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil. This piece astounded 17th Century England, mostly for its content on "modern philosophy" and political thought. Hobbes covered man's physical nature, man as an individual, and man as a citizen of the state. Included were ideas on psychology, ethics, law, language, and religion. This book has many biblical references and verses, very common for the 17th century. The most surprising aspect of this book is the idea of the common man having a representative who would speak on their behalf to the King in order to allow their concerns to be heard and precipitate positive monarchical decisions regarding their complaints. The King is portrayed as a very wise and great decision maker. Hobbes was pro the monarchical system, but wrote this book showing an avenue toward precipitating positive change within the current (17th Century Monarchical) political system, including bestowing the common man, the individual, with more importance as someone to be heard. A liberal peice for its time.

The edition of the Leviathan: Or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, pubished by Collier MacMillian Publishers (London) and Collier Books, a division of MacMillian Publishing Co., Inc (New York), I read has a fabulous introduction by Richard S. Peters (Lecturer in Philosophy at Birbeck College of the University of London) that delivers the personal history of Thomas Hobbes expertly and in an captivating style. This edition was suberbly edited by Michael Oakeshott, a Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics (according to the back cover).

Thomas Hobbes idea of having a representative for the common man was a brand new idea in England when he wrote about it. Today one can see how his writings and ideas have taken shape in England's Parliamentary form of government; different from the monarchical government of 17th Century England. Currently there is a House of Commons, representatives for the common man. Furthermore, today we can see the impact of the Leviathan:Or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasicall and Civil in the United States for our government does have representatives that represent the common man, enables the common man to voice his concerns to (be heard by) our government. Obviously our forefathers were aware of Thomas Hobbes work.

The Leviathan: Or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil is a difficult read because Thomas Hobbes like those of his time period wrote in a very long winded, very slow, lengthy and dry style bogged down by in field terminology which most people would have to look up in a dictionary. Definitely University and Upper Graduate level. This book is a serious piece and a must read for those who are interested in Political Science. Highly recommend reading this for it is a great example of how 17th Century man thought; very illuminating.

Other works by Thomas Hobbes include The Prince:Nicolo Machiavelli, The Elements of Law, Natural and Political, and Elementa Philosophica. Thomas Hobbes did write Behemoth or The Long Parliament (completed in 1668), but King James II of England demanded it be unpublished.


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