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Thomas Hobbes
English philosopher
(1588-1679)



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Leviathan (1651)

I know not how the world will receive it, nor how it may reflect on those that shall seem to favor it. For in a way beset with those that contend, on one side for too great Liberty, and on the other
side for too much Authority, 'tis hard to passe between the points of both unwounded.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Epistle Dedicatory, Paris, April 15-25, 1651

Art goes... imitating that Rationall and most excellent worke of Nature, Man. For by Art is created that great Leviathan called a Common-Wealth or State, (in Latin Civitas) which is but an Artificiall Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which the Soveraignty is an Artificiall Soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; The Magistrates, and other Officers of Judicature and Execution, artificiall Joynts; Reward and Punishment (by which fastned to the seate of the Soveraignty, every joynt and member is moved to performe his duty) are the Nerves, that do the same in the Body Naturall; The Wealth and Riches of all the particular members are the Strength; Salus Populi (the peoples safety) its Businesse; Counsellors, by whom all things needfull for it to know, are suggested unto it, are the Memory; Equity and Lawes, an artificiall Reason and Will; Concord, Health; Sedition, Sicknesse; and Civill war, Death. Lastly, the Pacts and Covenants, by which the parts of this Body Politique were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that Fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Introduction

True and False are attributes of speech, no of things. And where speech is not, there is neither Truth nor Falsehood.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 4

In Geometry (which is the only science that it hath pleased God hitherto to bestow on mankind) men begin at settling significations of their words; which ... they call Definitions.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 4

Words are wise men's counters, they do but reckon by them: but they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas, or any other doctor whatsoever, if but a man.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 4

So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death. And the cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to, or that he cannot be content with a moderate power: but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well, which he hath present, without the acquisition of more.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 11

From the same it proceedeth,that men gives different names, to one and the same thing, from the difference of their own passions: As they that approve a private opinion, call it Opinion; but they that mislike it, Haeresie: and yet haeresie signifies no more than private opinion; but has only agreater tincture of choler
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 11

And this Feare of things invisible, is the naturall Seed of that, which every one in himself calleth Religion; and in them that worship, or feare that Power otherwise than they do, Superstition.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 11

And in these foure things, Opinion of Ghosts, Ignorance of second causes, Devotion towards what men fear, and Taking of things Casuall for Prognostics, consisteth the Natural seed of Religion; which by reason of the different Fancies, Judgements, and Passions of severall men, hath grown up into ceremonies so different, that those which are used by one man, are for the most part ridiculous to another.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 12

For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 13

Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 13

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 13

The RIGHT OF NATURE, which Writers commonly call Jus Naturale, is the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own Judgement, and Reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 14

A Covenant not to defend my selfe from force, by force, is always voyd.
-- Leviathan (1651), The First Part, Chapter 14

" I Authorize and give up my Right of Governing my selfe, to this Man, or to his Assembly of men, on this condition, that thou that give up thy Right to him, and Authorise all his Actions in like manner. This done, the Multitude so united in one Person, is called a COMMON-WEALTH, in latine CIVITAS. This is the Generation of that LEVIATHAN, or rather (to speake more reverently) of that Mortall God, to which we owe under the Immortal God, our peace and defence.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 17

From whence it follows, that were the publique and private interest are most closely united, there is the publique most advanced.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 19

For all uniting of strength by private men, is, if for evil intent, unjust; if for intent unknown, dangerous to the Publique, and unjustly concealed.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 22

But if one Subject giveth Counsell to another, to do anything contrary to the Lawes, whether that Counsell proceed from evil intention, or from ignorance onely, it is punishable by the Common-wealth; because ignorance of the Law, is no good excuse, where every man is bound to take notice of the Lawes to which he is subject.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 25

So that every Crime is a sinne; but not every sinne a Crime.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 27

The source of every Crime, is some defect of the Understanding; or
some error in Reasoning; or some sudden force of the Passions.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 27

The office of the sovereign, be it a monarch or an assembly, consisteth in the end for which he was trusted with the sovereign power, namely the procuration of the safety of the people, to which he is obliged by the law of nature, and to render an account thereof to God, the Author of that law, and to none but Him. But by safety here is not meant a bare preservation, but also all other contentments of life, which every man by lawful industry, without danger or hurt to the Commonwealth, shall acquire to himself. And this is intended should be done, not by care applied to individuals, further than their protection from injuries when they shall complain; but by a general providence, contained in public instruction, both of doctrine and example; and in the making and executing of good laws to which individual persons may apply their own cases.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Second Part, Chapter 30: Of the Office of the Sovereign Representative

To say he hath spoken to him in a Dream, is no more then to say he dreamed that God spake to him; which is not of force to win beleef from any man, that knows dreams are for the most part naturall, and may proceed from former thoughts; and such dreams as that, from selfe conceit, and foolish arrogance, and false opinion of a mans own goodlinesse, or other vertue, by which he thinks he hath merited the favour of extraordinary Revelation. To say he hath seen a Vision, or heard a Voice, is to say, that he dreamed between sleeping and waking: for in such manner a man doth many times
naturally take his dream for a vision, as not having well observed his own slumbering. To say he speaks by supernaturall Inspiration, is to say he finds an ardent desire to speak, or some strong opinion of himself, for which hee can alledge no naturall and sufficient reason. So that though God Almighty can speak to a man, by Dreams, Visions, Voice, and Inspiration; yet he obliges no man to beleeve he hath so done to him that pretends it; who (being a man) may erre, and (which is more) may lie.
-- Leviathan (1651), The Third Part, Chapter 32

But if it bee well considered, The praise of Ancient Authors, proceeds not from the reverence of the Dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the Living.
-- Leviathan (1651), Review and Conclusion

Other Works

Give an inch, he'll take an ell.
-- Liberty and Necessity (no. 111)

The passion of laughter is nothing else but a sudden glory arising from sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmities of others, or with our own formerly...
-- Human Nature (1640) Ch. 9.


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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