9780140431957 / 0140431950





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About the book:

From the turmoil of the English Civil War, when life was truly 'nasty, brutish, and short', Hobbes's Leviathan (1651) speaks directly to the twentieth century. In its over-riding concern for peace, its systematic analysis of power and its elevation of politics to the status of a science, it mirrors much modern thinking. And despite its contemporary notoriety -- Pepys called it 'a book the Bishops will not let be printed again' -- it was also, as Dr Macpherson shows, a convincing apologia for the emergent seventeenth-century market society. | The Leviathan is the vast unity of the state. But how are unity, peace and security to be attained? Hobbes's answer is sovereignty, but the resurgence of interest today in Leviathan is due less to its answers than its methods. Hobbes sees politics as a science capable of the same axiomatic approach as geometry: he argues from first principles to human nature to politics. | Written during the turmoil of the English Civil War, Leviathan is an ambitious and highly original work of political philosophy. Claiming that man's essential nature is competitive and selfish, Hobbes formulates the case for a powerful sovereign -- or 'Leviathan' -- to enforce peace and the law, substituting security for the anarchic freedom he believed human beings would otherwise experience. This world view shocked many of Hobbes's contemporaries, and his work was publicly burnt for sedition and blasphemy when it was first published. But in his rejection of Aristotle's view of man as a naturally social being, and in his painstaking analysis of the ways in which society can and should function, Hobbes opened up a whole new world of political science. Based on the original 1651 text, this edition incorporates Hobbes's own corrections, while also retaining the original spelling and punctuation, and reads with vividness and clarity. C. B. Macpherson's introduction elucidates for the general reader one of the most fascinating works of modern philosophy.

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