Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher, mathematician, and linguist. Hobbes was born of an impoverished clerical family in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. At school he quickly excelled, making a reputation as a linguist and fluent poet and translator. After Oxford he entered the employment of William Cavendish, and except for a short interval remained secretary, tutor, and general advisor to the family for the rest of his career.
His employment included several “Grand Tours” during which he met the leading European intellectuals of his time. As a spokesman for the royalist Devonshires, Hobbes was caught up in the turmoil preceding the Civil War, and fled to France in 1640, remaining there until 1651. Because of his writings, especially Leviathan, Hobbes lived in serious danger of prosecution after the restoration of Charles II. Hobbes’s principal interests in his later years were translations, and he lived out his old age at the Devonshire’s home.Throughout all his works Hobbes is completely consistent on the point that the laws of nature are the principles of reason and, they are concerned with self-preservation.
But the principles of reason that Hobbes discusses as the laws of nature are not concerned with the preservation of particular persons but, as Hobbes puts it, with ‘the conservation of men in multitudes’. These are the principles of reason that concern the threats to life that come from war and civil discord. The goal of these principles is peace. It is these laws of nature that Hobbes holds provide an objective basis for moral obligations. “Reason declaring peace to be good, it follows by the same reason, that all the necessary means to peace be good also; and therefore that modesty, equity, trust, humanity, mercy are good manners or habits, that is, virtues.” Hobbes, considers moral obligations as applyingto manners or habits.
This statement allows Hobbes to regard courage, prudence, and temperance as personal virtues,…