Thomas Hobbes: His 2 Major Influences Upon Modern Society

Born5th of April, 1588
Died4th of December, 1679
Famous Quote“It is not wisdom but authority that makes law.”
Known ForFather of modern political theory, highly influencing modern democracy, contributor to several fields of academia
Region of WorldEngland, 16th/17th century

Thomas Hobbes remains one of the most influential English authors that has ever lived. Even to this day he has drastically influenced the development of our modern society in 3 major ways.

The 3 ways in which Thomas Hobbes has influenced the development of our modern society is through creating the social contract theory and pioneering natural human rights and laws. These two influences would profoundly impact the world’s modern society and forever change history.

Thomas Hobbes would be born in 1588 right before the sinking of the Spanish Armada in England which was then under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. Over the course of his life Hobbes would live in both France and England, an action which would help him to write his monumental 1651 book Leviathan. This book would impact millions of people around the world and help shape modern society.

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Without further ado, here are the 2 major influences of Thomas Hobbes upon our modern society.

Thomas Hobbes Created The Foundation For The Modern Social Contract Theory of Government

One of the major ways in which Thomas Hobbes influenced the development of our modern society was by pioneering the modern social contract theory.

Before Thomas Hobbes most of western political theory was built around a divine mandate set forth by the church. This divine mandate would state that governments were created through divine providence and that as a result power went through the church, to the king, then down to the common people.

This is now known as top down government. The power of government goes from the leader down through to the bottom of society. Nowadays very few governments in our modern society practice this type of top down government.

The reason no governments follow this top down model anymore is because of Thomas Hobbes Leviathan book. In Leviathan Hobbes presents the argument that governments were natural and created to protect man from acting like animals. To Hobbes his theory of government was that people willingly give up certain natural rights to obtain security and protection.

Thomas Hobbes wrote this book during the English Civil War (1642-1651) in favor of England returning back to an absolute monarchy under King Charles II. Hobbes took this stance in favor of monarchy because he believed that it was only under a strong central government that the people could obtain safety and stop the violence.

Hobbes undoubtedly had no idea the profound impact this book would have upon modern society over the coming centuries. Both in the French and American revolution Hobbes’ work on natural rights of man was a driving force towards creating democracies.

Today Hobbes has influenced the development of our modern society by creating the foundation by which all modern governments operate. He has influenced billions of people worldwide with his work on the social contract theory.

Thomas Hobbes Influenced Modern Society By Pioneering The Concept Of Natural Human Rights

Another way in which Thomas Hobbes influenced our modern society was by creating the modern legal system. This modern legal system was built around Thomas Hobbes’ concept of natural law, or that human beings possess natural rights inherent in their creation.

This was radical for Thomas Hobbes’ time. He was writing during the beginning of a time of radical change in epistemological belief between rationalists and empiricists. This radical change concerned how human beings thought and processed information.

Out of this debate stemmed the concept of natural rights and liberties. This belief was a humanistic one and comes from the legal defenses of the late Roman Republic politician Cicero.

These ancient natural human rights are similar to the ones that modern legal systems are built off today. These are the natural human rights to freedom of speech, pursuit of happiness, and liberty to perform their own actions.

If that sounds familiar to our modern natural rights built into constitutions around the world then you can thank Thomas Hobbes. It was Hobbes who worked to combine the concept of natural human law with the social contract to create our modern legal systems that we enjoy today.

Because of this combination of natural law and the social contract theory Thomas Hobbes has drastically influenced the development of our modern society today. Many of the laws that you and I enjoy stem from Hobbes work on the concept of natural human laws.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article on the 2 major influences of Thomas Hobbes upon modern society.

During his life Thomas Hobbes would remain a supporter of absolute monarchy. As a result of this Hobbes would become profoundly popular during the 18th century as an established political theorist. Today his influence can be felt across society whenever we interact with our modern legal system. Prospective graduate students will find a wealth of potential research subjects in Hobbes’s work.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

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Until next time,

Nick