Understanding Thomas Hobbes

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Thomas Hobbes' 17th century book Leviathan has been called "the greatest single work of political thought in the English language” (John Rawls). 

But it is not the most accessible work. Beginning philosophy students continue to struggle with Hobbes' long sentences, old-English words and difficult prose style.

Professor Laurence Houlgate's guide to Leviathan solves these problems by organizing each chapter into short sections while using contemporary examples and prose to explain the more difficult arguments and ideas. The result is an understandable philosophy study guide to Hobbes' Leviathan.

Professor Houlgate also provides two chapters showing how Hobbes answers the central questions of political philosophy, and compares Hobbes' answers to those of Plato and John Locke. In a concluding chapter, Professor Houlgate makes Hobbes relevant to contemporary political disputes by imagining a discussion between Hobbes, John Locke and James Madison about the justification of the impeachment clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Each chapter ends with questions for thought and discussion, thereby helping students with exam preparation and providing ideas for successful term papers.

This study guide is not a  Hobbes Leviathan summary, a set of notes (for example, Leviathan SparkNotes) or a set of flashcards.    It is a presentation of Hobbes' Leviathan for those smart students who want to understand how to think critically about the classics of philosophy.

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