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Hobbes'forgotten Natural Histories

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Thomas Hobbes' natural philosophy is often characterised as rationalistic in opposition to the emerging inductivist method employed by Francis Bacon and fellows of the Gresham College - later the Royal Society. Where as the inductivists researched and published a multitude of natural histories, Hobbes' mature publications contain little natural historical information. Nonetheless, Hobbes read numerous natural histories and incorporated them into his works and often used details from these histories to support important theoretical moves. He also wrote a number of natural histories, some of which remain either unpublished or untranslated. Hobbes' own mature statements about his early interest in natural histories are also misleading. This article attempts to review Hobbes' early writings on natural histories and argues that his works of the 1630s and 1640s owe a significant debt to the natural histories of Francis Bacon, Hobbes' one-time patron.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Cambridge


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