Leviathan Themes


Strain that runs through Hobbes' thought that, in contrast to essentialism, stressed the external world is known to use only through our senses, and as such we can only prove the existence of things we sense. In contrast to philosophers like Francis Bacon, Hobbes did not think philosophy should be based on materialism.


Aristotelian philosophy that humans sense the external world through the "essences" of objects, which are qualities relating to sense. Hobbes believed this was false given that man's experience with the world is entirely subjective, and that Aristotle's doctrine gave credence to the belief in spirits and the immortality of the soul.


the school of thought that used a hypothetical social contract that people agreed to in order to escape the state of nature. This contract established a form of society and government, although the exact form of government differs depending on the theorist. Other prominent contractarians include John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and John Rawls.


Philosophy that stressed that morality and politics should seek to maximize the amount of good and minimize the amount of pain for men. This denied the existence or importance of any objective moral laws or standards in favor of pragmatic results. While Hobbes' philosophy evinced many traits of this school of thought, utilitarianism is mostly attributed to the work of John Stuart Mill.


Doctrine that individuals are fundamentally driven by their own self-interest. This is a central tenet of Hobbes' thought, as men leave the state of nature out of self-interest, and perform their moral and civic obligations for this reason as well


Often associated with Enlightenment thought, the belief that truth should be based on solid reason rather than dogma or tradition. In its idealistic form, this preached the power of reason to further human knowledge.