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Hobbes' 'Leviathan'

Hobbes' 'Leviathan'

Radley College has been fortunate enough to borrow the First Edition of ‘Leviathan’ by Thomas Hobbes and some of Robert Boyle’s first air pump tracts from the New College, Oxford Library. They are on display in the Library under safekeeping.

On Wednesday 2nd March the Library had the highly-esteemed Dr William Poole of New College visiting to speak on these two works that transformed England at that time. ‘Leviathan’ was published in 1651 and analyses the English Civil War, society and the Monarchy which were all of great importance at the time. Boyle’s collections of air pump tracts were performed and recorded two decades later; it was the first air pump ever made. Dr Poole spoke fluently on how much of history and science is combined. He said that history, much like science, is mostly about arguments and people who have more ‘correct’ ideas.

Hobbes (1588-1679) was a leading political theorist and an ultra-monarchist. He stated that one had to start at the basic level in order to create a political science. Hobbes was a key figure during the English Civil War, but in the 1640s fled to France in fear of his life. He returned to England once order had been restored.

Boyle (1627-1691) was born into riches and was a leading scientist of the time. He spent his time during the war in Ireland and made visits to Oxford. Boyle and Hobbes had vastly conflicting views, but had a connection towards each other. Both of their books were philosophically opposed and they disagreed on the states of matter and the atom. Hobbes, who believed in materialism and the monarchy, conflicted with Boyle, who was more of a religious man who had a worldly view.

The talk was rounded off with lots of questions; it was a testimony to how interesting the talk was.

Many thanks must go to New College Library, Dr Poole and the Physics Department for arranging such a splendid talk.

Report by James Gosling, A Social 6.1

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