Date of Award

Spring 1975

Document Type




First Advisor

Richard Lambert

Second Advisor

Francis Wiegenstein

Third Advisor

Allen Pope


Enlightened by Euclidian Geometry, that was the basis for an entire philosophical system, Thomas Hobbes remains today one of the most controversial figures of the Modern Era. Espousing a rationalistic, mechanistic, and materialist interpretation of the cosmos, Hobbes served as an inspiration to scientific thinkers and as a source of heresy to the institution of the Church. For almost three centuries, his thought has been interpreted as a closed system of an atheistic nature. From the pages of Hobbes' Leviathan, arises a system which he constructed as the most profound materialistic system in the world in regard to physics, biology, psychology, ethics, and politics. The traditional interpretation of Hobbes' mechanics appears indisputable. But a tension can result if we assert that the basis for Hobbes' theory of ethics and subsequent obligation to the state is in total harmony with the entirety of Hobbes' system. Does man's obligation to God and fellow man result from a mere naturalistic prudence, or does it have a supernatural origin rooted in the fear of God s commands. Here lies a major point of contention to be discussed in this thesis. History often times shapes an opinion that will affect any interpretations of a mans work. Because, as we shall investigate in the next chapter, Hobbes was considered an atheist, we must inquire if that was really the case. Having been considered a heretic who reduced God to minimal importance, Hobbes has been interpreted in that light for almost three hundred years. Now in light of contemporary theology and the opportunity of a more objective viewpoint, we shall see if Hobbes was a genuine atheist; and if he was not, we may possibly find out what his theology really meant. As a final concern, we shall look for any theological insights that may help provide personal fulfillment from the works of Hobbes. As Hobbes did not find intellectual satisfaction in the philosophy of medieval scholasticism, so too, do many modern men find that some lack of satisfaction. So we shall now embark on a philosophical journey. Put aside twentieth century thought, biases and attitudes, don yourself a powdered wig, and travel to seventeenth century England, a country embroiled in religious, intellectual, and political controversy.