Thomas Hobbes and the Political Philosophy of Glory

By Gabriella Slomp | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
The Determinants of the Citizen:
Nature and Nurture

Introduction

Aubrey's entry for the year 1665 in the life of Hobbes reads thus:

This year he told me that he was willing to do some good to the town where he was born; that his majesty loved him well, and if I could find out something in our country [Wiltshire] that was in his gift, he did believe he could beg it of his majesty, and seeing he was bred a scholar, he thought it most proper to endow a free school there; which is wanting now ... After enquiry I found out a piece of land in Braydon forest (of about £25 per annum value) that was in his majesty's gift, which he hoped to have obtained of his majesty for a salary for a schoolmaster; but the queen's priests smelling out the design and being his enemies hindered this public and charitable intention ( Brief Lives, 155).

Having been a tutor for much of his life, it is not surprising that Hobbes attached importance to education. But if human nature is fixed and invariable, what good can education do?

In Chapter 7 we have seen that when writing Leviathan and De Homine Hobbes seems to have abandoned the view held in previous works that glory is the source of all human passions at all times. Glory, instead, becomes just one instance of human motivations and no other principle is given by Hobbes the role played by glory in earlier works.

My aim in this Chapter is to suggest a possible explanation for Hobbes's change of mind. I hope to show that unlike in Elements of Law and De Cive, in De Homine and Behemoth Hobbes suggests that the influence of society on human behaviour is much more marked than the contribution of eternal and immutable human nature. In other words, in later works nurture rather than nature is singled out by Hobbes as the major source of human actions. Correspondingly

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