Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback

Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction Paperback

Part of the Very Short Introductions series

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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 the refutation of scepticism, and to have developed a theory of knowledge which rivalled that of Descartes in its importance.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area.

These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 168 pages, 11 halftones
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9780192802552



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

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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.

Review by

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. <br/><br/>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). <br/><br/>Highly recommended.