Thomas Hobbes

(1588—1679) philosopher

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English philosopher. There were two key components in Hobbes's conception of humankind: he was a materialist, claiming that there was no more to the mind than the physical motions discovered by science, and a cynic, holding that human action was motivated entirely by selfish concerns, notably fear of death. His view of society was expressed in his most famous work, Leviathan (1651), in which he argued, by means of a version of a social contract theory, that simple rationality made social institutions and even absolute monarchy inevitable.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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