Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x24gv Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-19T00:07:14.012Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

10 - The background of Hobbes's Behemoth

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

Donald R. Kelley
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
David Harris Sacks
Affiliation:
Reed College, Oregon
Get access

Summary

It is a thing very dangerous for men to gouerne themselues by examples, if there be not a concurrence of the same reasons, not onely in generall, but euen in all particularities; and if things be not ruled with the same wisedome: and if lastly, ouer and besides all other foundations, the selfe same fortune haue not her part.

– Francesco Guicciardini, The Historie of Guicciardin

Let me confess at the outset that this will be a very speculative essay, about a work that appears to sort oddly with the rest of the Hobbes canon. While it seems a little unkind to blame the subject of my inquiry for the difficulty of the endeavor, the fact remains that Thomas Hobbes controlled with great care what he wished posterity to remember, not merely by means of the various versions of his autobiography but even in his conversations with his garrulous friend, John Aubrey. Hobbes was reluctant, as a matter of principle, to name intellectual ancestors, either directly or by way of citation. Like Francis Bacon, he castigated the use of authority; unlike Bacon, he acted on what he preached. Central to Hobbes's conception of himself, even though it was not an entirely accurate description of his philosophy, was the Euclidean metaphor, the notion that an entire, coherent, and true system could be built on the basis of a few axioms. Like Athena springing fully armed from the head of Zeus, the world of Leviathan and its associated works was to appear as if it had sprung in its entirety solely from the brain of Hobbes.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Historical Imagination in Early Modern Britain
History, Rhetoric, and Fiction, 1500–1800
, pp. 243 - 266
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×