Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), whose current reputation restslargely on his political philosophy, was a thinker with wide-ranginginterests. In philosophy, he defended a range of materialist,nominalist, and empiricist views against Cartesian and Aristotelianalternatives. In physics, his work was influential on Leibniz, and ledhim into disputes with Boyle and the experimentalists of the earlyRoyal Society. In history, he translated Thucydides' History ofthe Peloponnesian War into English, and later wrote his ownhistory of the Long Parliament. In mathematics he was less successful,and is best remembered for his repeated unsuccessful attempts to squarethe circle. But despite that, Hobbes was a serious and prominentparticipant in the intellectual life of his time.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is one of England's most influential political philosophers. According to his own estimation, he was probably the most important philosopher of his time, if not of history, since he believed himself to be the first to discover a genuine "science of politics." Modeled on the surefire method of geometry, his political science was supposed to demonstrate political truths with the certainty of a geometric proof. Such a science was desperately needed by his fellow English citizens, Hobbes believed, because political disagreements and conflicts were tearing apart his country. According to Hobbes, civil war is primarily caused by differing opinions over who is the ultimate political authority in a commonwealth. In his own time, the King’s claim of having the final say on political matters was called into question by members of Parliament. For example, when King Charles tried to raise funds for a war against Spain and France in 1626, Parliament denied his request. In response, the King used a “forced loan” to force individual subjects to finance his needs. This action contributed to the rising tensions between King and Parliament, tensions that ultimately erupted in civil war. According to Hobbes, the only way to escape civil war and to maintain a state of peace in a commonwealth is to institute an impartial and absolute sovereign power that is the final authority on all political issues. Hobbes believes his own scientifically proves such a conclusion. If Hobbes’s political argument is as sound as a geometric proof, then his own estimation of his philosophical importance may not be exaggerated.
— Michael Oakeshott on the most important work of Thomas Hobbes
Today I’ll give you just one imminently wonderful example of a person who didn’t even get started on his life’s most ambitious journey until after the age of 40: The great English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes.