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Hobbes (The Routledge Philosophers) [Hardcover]

A.P. Martinich

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Book Description

19 May 2005 0415283272 978-0415283274

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was the first great English philosopher and one of the most important theorists of human nature and politics in the history of Western thought.

This superlative introduction presents Hobbes' main doctrines and arguments, covering all of Hobbes' philosophy. A.P. Martinich begins with a helpful overview of Hobbes' life and work, setting his ideas against the political and scientific background of seventeenth-century England. He then introduces and assesses, in clear chapters, Hobbes' contributions to fundamental areas of philosophy:

  • epistemology and metaphysics, in particular Hobbes' materialism and determinism and his relation to Descartes
  • ethics and political philosophy, concentrating on Hobbes' most famous work, Leviathan, and the theory of the social contract it advances
  • philosophy of science, logic and language, considering Hobbes' theory of nominalism and his writing on rhetoric and the uses of language;
  • religion, examining Hobbes' analyses of revelation, prophets and miracles.

The final chapter considers the legacy of Hobbes' thought and his influence on contemporary philosophy.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (19 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415283272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415283274
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 14 x 22.1 cm

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Review

'In short, this is a fine and authoritative study by an acknowledged master of his subject. No serious student of Hobbes or early modern philosophy should ignore this book.' - Paul Kelly, London School of Economics

'This is an excellent book, well-suited to the Routledge Philosophers series. It is clearly and accessibly written, comprehensive, up-to-date on current scholarship, well-organised and often humorous. I think undergraduates will find the book both readable and enjoyable. Teachers will find it very helpful.' - S.A. Lloyd, University of Southern California

About the Author

A.P.Martinich is Professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of A Hobbes Dictionary (Blackwell, 1995), Hobbes: A Biography (CUP, 2000) and the editor of Philosophy of Language (OUP, 2000).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Close to the Standard Edition As It Gets 28 Feb 2003
By Parker Benchley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One, if not the first, in a series of biographies of European philosophers by Cambridge University Press, this volume more than holds its own and is bound to becomne the standard text on the life of Thomas Hobbes.
Deftly written and extremely well researched, this is a volume not only for the scholar of English philosophy or history, but for the well-read layman as well. Martinich presents his subject chronologically, as any good biography should, with brief stopovers for analysis of each Hobbes text both philosophically and within the historical context against which it was written. Martinich is most unusual in that he does not take his own words as the last ones on the subject; there are pages on his disagreements with other writers on interpretations of both the life and thought of Hobbes, which makes this volume both unusual and valuable to any understanding of its subject.
Pricey, but strongly recommended, especially if one has any of the other volumes in the Cambridge series. If possible, wait for the paperback . . . but not too long, for there is much about Hobbes one will miss.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF HOBBES 11 Nov 2009
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A.P. Martinich is an analytic philosopher who has an emphasis on the history of political thought, and he is the author of this great biography.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was an English philosopher, most remembered today for his seminal work of political philosophy, Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668. Hobbes served as a secretary to Francis Bacon for some time, and Martinich notes, "Not even his friends liked Bacon."

Martinich observes that "Although he would sharpen the argumentation and improve the presentation in later works, Hobbes adhered for the rest of his life to the basic positions presented in his first political treatise." (The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic: To Which Are Subjoined Selected Extracts from Unprinted Mss. of Thomas Hobbes). Martinich later adds that "All or almost all of the central points of Leviathan had been made by Hobbes in early books and manuscripts."

Martinich's own comments are always pertinent: e.g., "His doctrine was Calvinism without original sin." "Hobbes never lost an adolescent delight of shocking the intellectual establishment."

Hobbes was the founder of biblical criticism, and "Hobbes was the first person to argue in print that Moses was not the author of most of the Pentateuch." About Hobbes' attempt to reconcile science and religion, Martinich notes, "He failed, but I do not know of anyone who has succeeded."

This is the finest study of Hobbes' life we are ever likely to see.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Levity 13 July 2013
By toronto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a very competent biography of Hobbes, laced with the author's sardonic (and often very funny) asides and comments. We could probably do without some of the comments, as they are occasionally self indulgent, but they do liven up some dry times in the exposition. They also chime somewhat with Hobbes' notorious cantankerousness. For contemporary philosophers,among the most important ideas are those stemming from the ruthlessness with which Hobbes pursued the relationship between states of nature, states of law, and the nature of sovereignty (much of this has been taken up in recent discussions of terrorism by Agamben and others; but of course goes back all the way to Grotius, Rousseau, etc.). The contemporary reader needs to keep substituting some other kind of sovereign power for the actual Charles I, Charles II, etc. (the Stuarts were not a great advertisement for the theory of the absolute sovereign). There is also a nice summary of Hobbes' theory of mathematics (about the status of arithmetic versus geometry) which I never quite grasped before, and which has interesting echoes in Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics.

I didn't know until I read this biography that Hobbes believed in the existence of angels, and other interesting tidbits.

I particularly liked the anecdote that Hobbes pointed to a gravestone and remarked that that "was the True Philosopher's Stone".
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