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Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction by Richard…

Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction

by Richard Tuck

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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 information, a clear and reasonably readable style, a perfect balance between depth and breadth. You get a great summary of Hobbes' context and his biography, a good summary of his thought (including, crucially, his physics, metaphysics, methodology and religious thought as well as the ethics and politics), and a great summary of Hobbes interpretation. It's unclear to me why Goodreads reviewers insist on giving it 3 stars, unless they're all Straussians or are put off by Tuck's unbalanced description of C. B. McPherson's work (which - in 'Possessive Individualism' at least - does not claim, as Tuck suggests, that Hobbes is the defender of the bourgeoisie; it argues quite persuasively that Hobbes took his own social context to provide an eternal picture of human nature).

Highly recommended. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
This is the best "wee book on..." series out there. If I need to know about something, and there's a book in this series, I get it first. ( )
  MarionII | Apr 24, 2010 |
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It is sometimes tempting to think that the heroes of the various histories of philosophy or ethics — men as different as St Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Luther, Hobbes, Kant, or Hegel — were all in some sense engaged on a common enterprise, and would have recognized one another as fellow workers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192802550, Paperback)

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was the first great English political philosopher, and his book Leviathan was one of the first truly modern works of philosophy. Richard Tuck shows that while Hobbes may indeed have been an atheist, he was far from pessimistic about human nature, nor did he advocate totalitarianism. By locating him against the context of his age, we learn that Hobbes developed a theory of knowledge which rivaled that of Descartes in its importance for the formation of modern philosophy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:51 -0400)

"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 refutation of scepticism in both sciences and ethics, and to have developed a theory of knowledge which rivalled that of Descartes in its importance for the formation of modern philosophy."--Jacket.… (more)

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