Thomas Hobbes Essay Research Paper THOMAS HOBBESIntroductionThomas

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Thomas Hobbes Essay, Research Paper THOMAS HOBBES Introduction Thomas Hobbes was born in 1588, and was the son of an English vicar who fathered three children with his wife. When Thomas was still a young boy, his father was involved in a confrontation with another parson and was forced to leave his home, wife, and children. Thomas Hobbes’ paternal uncle took charge of the care of the children, and he took a keen interest in young Thomas. Thomas was reading and writing at age four, acquired functional knowledge of Latin and Greek at age six, and went off to study at Oxford at the age of fifteen (Ebenstein & Ebenstein, 1991). Hobbes studied at Oxford for five years, and it is said that he was nonchalant about the course of study which he thought was “arid and

old-fashioned” (Ebenstein & Ebenstein, 1991: 398). After graduating from Oxford, Hobbes worked as tutor and companion for the son of Lord Cavendish. Lord Cavendisn later became the first Earl of Devonshire, and the son whom Hobbes tutored was the same age as Hobbes. Through his association with this aristocratic family, Hobbes became personally acquainted with influential men in business and politics, and got to know the great scientists of the period. His acquaintances included such men as Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, and Harvey. According to Ebenstein & Ebenstein (1991), Hobbes traveled extensively and spent about twenty years on the European continent, with much of this time spent in Paris. While in France, he came to recognize the new developments in philosophy and

science. Paris would become his home for a decade when he fled England during the conflict between Parliament and the Crown in the 1640s. The historic struggle between the English king and Parliament is a well-chronicled story. To understand the context in which Hobbes was writing, one has to understand the political climate and reality of the period. The battles between the English executive and legislature goes back to the 1200s when the kingdom was ruled by King John, a descendant of William the Conqueror. Under the monarchy of King John, England lost its continental portion of the kingdom, which included Normandy. The taxing power of the king had become a major factor in the ongoing confrontations between the Crown (the executive) and the Parliament (the legislature). The

king was engaged in a civil war with the English aristocracy, which consisted of barons and other nobles; and to gain peace, he agreed to sign the Magna Carta. Since the parliament and the power brokers of the time were dissatisfied with the taxing power of the king, one article of the Magna Carta stipulated that “no taxes could be imposed ‘unless by the common council of the realm’” which became the parliament (Lynch, 1998: 35). Lynch (1998) concurs that the Reformation period saw the power of the king (executive) being tested by Parliament (legislature) to the greatest degree. By 1649, the parliamentary faction had prevailed over the Crown, and King Charles I was already executed. Oliver Cromwell who led the Parliamentary forces became military leader and dictator of

England, Scotland, and Ireland. After the death of Oliver Cromwell, his son led England for a short time before key elements of the army rebelled against him, and restored the monarchy with King Charles II as ruler in 1660. Tension between the executive and legislature persisted as Charles II and subsequent “Stuart kings favored a divine-right-of-kings interpretation of power and seemed to consider adopting Catholicism as the state religion” (36). The conflict would continue after the death of Thomas Hobbes in 1679. When King James II was forced from the throne in 1688, his sister Queen Mary and King William were asked to share the throne. The 1688 English Bill of Rights was a product of this era, and the document established that no man could be force to pay taxes, grant