The Life Lesson series takes a great thinker and highlights those ideas most relevant to us today. These books show how wise voices from the past have urgently important and inspiring things to tell us.
Thomas Hobbes is best known for his greatly influential work on political philosophy. It is precisely because of his gritty verdict on our human condition that we need to listen to him. While we do not want to let him take us all the way to the abyss of his authoritarian dystopia, we would do well to take note of his clear eyed assessment of the psychological forces that pit us against one another, and the fact that, as uncomfortable as it is, we need to be restrained.
Born in 1588 in Wiltshire, England, his masterwork Leviathan established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy. He famously developed social contract theory, and controversially used it to support absolute power for the sovereign.
About the Author Hannah Dawson is Senior Lecturer in the history of ideas at the New College of the Humanities, London.