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Analysis of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan

My analysis of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan began with a study of the authorship of the book. The copyright page listed Thomas Hobbes as the author and gave his birth and death dates as 1588 and 1679, respectively. The page stated that the book contained "selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668 / Thomas Hobbesà" It appears to be an authentic edition of the book with Hobbes as the author.

Hobbes's audience for Leviathan is a matter of some controversy. Some believe it was intended for students, others for rulers, and still others for the everyday person on the street. Since Hobbes does not specify his audience, this is a matter of interpretation. A careful reading of the text suggests that he may not have had a particular audience in mind but was more concerned with expressing his personal views in an attempt to elucidate truth for whomever he could get to listen. Leviathan proposes a moral and political world view that Hobbes constructed and explained in detail, presumably to help others understand what he himself perceived as the optimal world order. This elucidation also appears to be his primary motive in writing the work, although it is clear that he would like to see his ideas implemented in fact as well as discussed in philosophical circles.

The 17th-century milieu that Leviathan was written in was one of the bloody conflicts of the English civil wars as well as a general atmosphere of social and political change. This turmoil seemed to spur Hobb


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