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Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil

Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil by Thomas Hobbes
By: (1588-1679)

Books 1 and 2. Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil is a book written in 1651 by Thomas Hobbes. The book concerns the structure of society (as represented figuratively by the frontispiece, showing the state giant made up of individuals).

In the book, Hobbes argues for a social contract and rule by a sovereign. Influenced by the English Civil War, Hobbes wrote that chaos or civil war – situations identified with a state of nature and the famous motto bellum omnium contra omnes (”the war of all against all”) – could only be averted by strong central government. He thus denied any right of rebellion toward the social contract. However, Hobbes did discuss the possible dissolution of the State. Since the social contract was made to institute a state that would provide for the “peace and defense” of the people, the contract would become void as soon as the government no longer protected its citizens. By virtue of this fact, man would automatically return to the state of nature until a new contract is made.


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