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Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1676)

Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher and political theorist, was strongly influenced by the English Civil Wars and the beheading of Charles I, and by the growing interest in science. He hoped to set social philosophy on a firm scientific foundation, which, he thought, also would have the happy result of showing all rebellion against authority to be in the wrong. Hobbes's embrace of science consisted in trying to describe people as they actually were, rather than as the writer would like them to be. To this end, Hobbes began his investigation by attempting to determine how humans would behave in the absence of political institutions. This hypothetical state of society, in which no political institutions exist, Hobbes called the natural condition of mankind or the ...

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