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Government & Politics   >   Political Ideas – Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes's Life and Times

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Political Ideas – Thomas Hobbes

In this course, Professor Jeffrey Collins (Queen’s University) explores the political theory of Thomas Hobbes, primarily through his best-known work Leviathan. In the first module, we are introduced to Hobbes’s life and times, and briefly place his thinking into two contexts: those of Humanism and the “New Science”. In the second module we zoom in on the historical context of the English Civil War as we attempt to make sense of Hobbes’s views on human nature and the individual. In the third module, we move on to consider Hobbes’s account of the social contract as the means by which sovereignty is brought into existence, thus creating the political state. Here we look directly at Hobbes’s own words in Leviathan, reading the text closely and picking apart its meanings. In the fourth module, we explore the precise nature of sovereignty, exploring the sorts of powers Hobbes argued the sovereign should have. In the fifth module, we explore the themes of liberty and disorder in Hobbes’s “science of politics", before, in the sixth and final module, considering Hobbes’s influence over later liberal and conservative thinkers.

Hobbes's Life and Times

In this module, we explore the life and times of Thomas Hobbes, focusing in particular on (i) his schooling at Oxford and academic interests while studying there; (ii) the intellectual context within which Hobbes lived and wrote; (iii) Humanism as a useful context for understanding both where Hobbes conformed to and diverged from the intellectual preoccupations of his time; (iv) the “New Science”; (v) Hobbes’s understanding of the world (and, by extension, human beings) as formed of “matter in motion”, which he details in Part One of Leviathan and which underpins much of what follows.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Collins, J. (2021, November 11). Political Ideas – Thomas Hobbes - Hobbes's Life and Times [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Collins, J. "Political Ideas – Thomas Hobbes – Hobbes's Life and Times." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Nov 2021,

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Prof. Jeffrey Collins

Prof. Jeffrey Collins

Queen's University, Canada