An examination of Hobbes's lifetime reveals that the uncertainty of the British monarchy during his life (1588-1679) inspires Hobbes's social and political thought, especially regarding the role of the sovereign to provide for the security of his subjects. We consider the major elements of Hobbes's political and social thought including the state of nature, equality of men, the social contract, the strong sovereign, and legitimate rule. Hobbes's work privileges security of individuals through a strong sovereign but also asserts the right of subjects to transfer their allegiance to a new sovereign if the ruler does not provide for their security; this element of his work in particular and others made him a controversial thinker who was forced into exile for a time. His work has been rediscovered in recent years by economists and other social scientists who see him as the first rational choice theorist.
- Chapter 6-7, pp. 118-134
- Chapter 11, pp. 160-168
- Chapter 13-14, pp. 183-201
- Chapter 17, pp. 223-228
- Chapter 30, pp. 376-394
This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.