Thomas Hobbes
1588 - 1679
English Philosopher
Hobbes developed a pessimistic philosophy that was denounced in his own day and later, but has had a continuing influence on Western political thought.

His 'Leviathan' presents a bleak picture of human beings in the state of nature, where life is 'nasty, brutish, and short.' Fear of violent death is the principal motive that causes people to create a state by contracting to surrender their natural rights and to submit to the absolute authority of a sovereign.

Although Hobbes challenged the doctrine of the divine right of kings saying that the power of the sovereign derived originally from the people, he maintained that the sovereign's power is absolut.

Hobbes's concept of the social contract led to investigations by other political theorists, notably Locke, Spinoza, and Rousseau, who formulated their own radically different theories of the social contract.

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From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy