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Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #64)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  126 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Thomas Hobbes, the first great English political philosopher, has long had the reputation of being a pessimistic atheist, who saw human nature as inevitably evil and proposed a totalitarian state to subdue human failings. In this illuminating study, Richard Tuck re-evaluates Hobbes's philosophy and dispels these myths, revealing him to have been passionately concerned with ...more
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Published May 30th 2002 by OUP Oxford (first published 1989)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #64), Richard Tuck
Thomas Hobbes was the first great English political philosopher, and his book Leviathan was one of the first truly modern works of philosophy. He has long had the reputation of being a pessimistic atheist, who saw human nature as inevitably evil and proposed a totalitarian state to subdue human failings. In this study, Richard Tuck dispels these myths, revealing Hobbes to have been passionately concerned with the refut
Justin Evans
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, to be fair, I already agree with much of Tuck's method. I do think the best way to understand political thought is to pay attention scrupulously to its historical context; that such attention will probably reveal no Immortal, Eternal Wisdom but rather a set of tactical responses to actual political events; that the first interpreters of political books are most likely the best interpreters. So I'm biased.

All that said, this was one of the best VSIs I've read: a massive amount of informati
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally worthwhile. Just-long-enough treatments of Hobbes' life, work, and influence. Most importantly for me, Tuck knows ALL of Hobbes' work very well, so he's able to show what ideas Hobbes held through his whole intellectual life and then how he revised his thinking in Leviathan and other later works.

A key early detail is that Hobbes, like many 17th century thinkers, was essentially a guest/employee of an aristocrat and was therefore (1) obligated not to displease his master (or his future m
Daniel Wright
Part of the difficulty of writing a book of this nature is trying to cater for readers at a wide range of levels; not being patronising to experts while still being informative to complete beginners. Thomas Hobbes is most famous for his controversial work Leviathan, the frontispiece of which is still recognisable. Richard Tuck rightly includes this frontispiece, while also discussing the work in question. Hobbes is also famous for one excerpt therein: 'In such condition [the state of nature, i.e ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
It's quite a while since I read a philosophy book with real intent. The intent is to get back to where I was when I left my last Manchester seminar room in 1985. I think this book has helped me get there, and perhaps a little bit further.

We flew past Hobbes on our way to Hume and Berkeley. I quoted the "nasty brutish and short" bit in an essay on man in the state of nature, but I never attempted to read Leviathan or any of his other works. Lecture notes and references in other books were enough
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another excellent book in the "Very Short Introduction" series. Tuck covers the life, thought, and influence of Thomas Hobbes in just over 130 very readable pages. Even better, while Tuck does pay due attention to the Leviathan, he also gives and overview of Hobbes' less popular works--including some still untranslated from Latin. If this very short book is still too long, you should be able to skip the last section if you don't work in the field--which isn't to say it's not interesting and ...more
'The sceptics of antiquity lives under the rule of absolute emperors; those of the Renaissance under absolutist monarchists. The rigid and alienating structures of the modern world may also be an appropriate landscape for sceptics, and it is Hobbes who shows us why.'

This excellent closing point is probably even more potent and compelling in 2017 than it was in 1989. It was a pleasure to read this book, which is composed of clear and fresh writing. The first section, on Hobbes's life, is particul
This Very Short Introduction is actually a republication of Oxford's Past Masters volume on Hobbes, and it lends itself quite well to the VSI format. Split into three main sections, in the first, we are introduced to Hobbes's remarkable and often turbulent life and the various intellectual contexts in which he operated. The second chapter focuses more closely on the arguments advanced in his philosophical works. The third chapter considers later interpretations of the man and his work.

Tuck is a
Casey Nicholson
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Good, But Not Great, Introduction

Thomas Hobbes is one of the more obscure of the important philosophers of history. He is, of course, best known for "Leviathan", and its political theory of the absolute authority of the sovereign ruler.

What Richard Tuck does well in this book is to locate Hobbes within a larger philosophical context which explores in intricate detail Hobbes's biography. Attention is given to Hobbes's metaphysics, a point often overlooked in introductory remarks on Hobbes's th
Jeroen Berndsen
NBD|Biblion: [return]Door veel vakgenoten bejubeld is de Britse filosoof Hobbes (1588-1679) bij het grote publiek nauwlijks in positieve zin bekend. Hij gaat door voor iemand met een negatief, op eigenbelang gebaseerd mens- en maatschappijbeeld, waarin voor morele noties geen plaats is. Tuck laat op overtuigende wijze zien dat dit populaire beeld niet klopt. Het boek bestaat uit twee gedeelten. Een biografisch deel met veel informatie over de tijd waarin Hobbes leeft. En een systematisch deel me ...more
Sterk apologetisch: verdediging van Hobbes tegen beschuldigingen atheïsme, materialisme en absolutisme. Het hele betoog verdrinkt daarin en is daarom zeer moeilijk te volgen voor leken. Eerder afrekening met collega’s. Notie macht wordt helemaal niet aangeraakt.
Craig Bolton
Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Richard Tuck (2002)
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides a good overview and discusses parts of Hobbes's work you might not be familiar with, including his beliefs on religion.
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Richard Tuck is Professor of Government Department. Professor Tuck is a premier scholar of the history of political thought. His works include Natural Rights Theories (1979), Hobbes (1989), and Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651 (1993). They address a variety of topics including political authority, human rights, natural law, and toleration, and focus on a number of thinkers including Hobbes, Gr ...more
More about Richard Tuck...

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