07 October 2010
Influences Upon Thomas Hobbes
Who were the major influences upon the development of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes? I'm not interested in broad societal sources of influence (i.e. the civil war and the anxiety about disorder that it naturally caused). I'm curious about names.
To some degree, a philosopher is influenced by those with whom he argues, because he sharpens and develops his arguments in response to theirs. In this sense, one could say that Hobbes was influenced by Descartes. Descartes' insistence on the immateriality of the mind sharpened Hobbes' sense of the corporality of all of human existence.
But what were the more positive influences? Thucydides of course. Hobbes translated Thucydides' history, and since it portrays the downfall of a democracy one can see its possible significance for him.
Anyone else? Machiavelli? Gassendi?
Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.