Thomas Hobbes (/hɒbz/; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679), in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury,[4] was an English philosopher who is considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy.[5][6] Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, which expounded an influential formulation of social contract theory.[7] In addition to political philosophy, Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history, jurisprudence, geometry, the physics of gases, theology, ethics, and general philosophy.

Though on rational grounds a champion of absolutism for the sovereign, Hobbes also developed some of the fundamentals of European liberal thought: the right of the individual; the natural equality of all men; the artificial character of the political order (which led to the later distinction between civil society and the state); the view that all legitimate political power must be "representative" and based on the consent of the people; and a liberal interpretation of law that leaves people free to do whatever the law does not explicitly forbid.[8] His understanding of humans as being matter and motion, obeying the same physical laws as other matter and motion, remains influential; and his account of human nature as self-interested cooperation, and of political communities as being based upon a "social contract" remains one of the major topics of political philosophy.