Why Studying Thomas Hobbes Can Help You Understand Modern Political Conflict

Thomas Hobbes purposely named his work after a virtually uncontrollable sea beast, Leviathan, in order to illustrate the consequences of turbulent governments. Hobbes was personally not a particularly religious man, yet he utilized biblical references to support his philosophy regarding the essential components for an ideal state of government. By referencing the biblical stories, he argued against all-powerful, tyrannical governments. 

As one plunges further into the context behind Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, it is clear that Hobbes’ religious incorporation within his prose brings profound meaning to the reasoning behind his views. By naming his book after a biblical sea monster, Hobbes furthers his stance regarding human nature, politics, and war. 

Leviathan was the greatest sea-beast of the book of Job whom only God could tame. According to Isaiah 27:1, Leviathan is referred to as “Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent”. The overall message of the biblical Leviathan is to show that mankind must put its faith in God during difficult situations, and that relying heavily on the power of a man-made governing king can prove disastrous. To Hobbes, Leviathan is the "liberty of the man to do what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do.” If a person is able to do whatever he chooses, then he is free and has power. However, power is a dynamic and dangerous principle that can morph and corrupt men. Designating power solely in one man or one leader can and will lead to corruption and war.