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Thomas Hobbes 1588-1679. Man to Man is a kind of God ; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe . Wisdome properly so call'd is nothing else but this, The perfect knowledge of the Truth in all matters whatsoever . Which being derived from the Registers and Records of Things.

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thomas hobbes 1588 1679
Thomas Hobbes



Wisdome properly so call'd is nothing else but this, The perfect knowledge of the Truth in all matters whatsoever. Which being derived from the Registers and Records of Things


Philosophy has several branches:

    • For treating of Figures, tiscall'dGeometry; of motion, physick; of naturall right, Moralls;
    • Geometry has increased our knowledge and enhanced practical affairs:
      • And truly the Geometricians have very admirably perform'd their part.
    • Compare with Moral philosophy:
      • If the Morall philosophers had as happily discharg'd their duty, I know not what could have been added by humane Industry to the completion of that happinesse, which is consistent with humane life.

Model of geometry applied to moral philosophy:

    • For were the nature of humane Actions as distinctly knowne, as the nature of Quantity in Geometricall Figures, the strength of Avarice and Ambition, which is sustained by the erroneous opinions of the Vulgar, as touching the nature of Right and Wrong, would presently faint and languish; And Mankinde should enjoy such an Immortall peace, that (unlesse it were for habitation, on supposition that the Earth should grow too narrow for her Inhabitants) there would hardly be left any pretence for war.

Problem with moral philosophers:

    • not one that hath used an idoneous principle of Tractation
    • we may not, as in a Circle, begin the handling of a Science from what point we please.
    • There is a certain Clue of Reason, whose beginning is in the dark, but by the benefit of whose Conduct, wee are led as 'twere by the hand into the clearest light, so that
    • the principle of Tractation is to be taken from that Darknesse, and then the light to be carried thither for the irradiating its doubts.

Hobbes’ idoneoustractation:

    • Begin with the word Justice, (wich signifies a steady Will of giving every one his Owne)
    • my first enquiry was to be, from whence it proceeded, that any man should call any thing rather his Owne, than another man's
    • I found that this proceeded not from Nature, but Consent

How does private property originate?

    • from a Community of Goods, there must needs arise Contention (concupisence)
    • by the instinct of Nature, every man is taught to shun [contention and calamity] (rational part)
  • Which principles being laid down, I seem from them to have demonstrated by a most evident connexion, in this little work of mine, first the absolute necessity of Leagues and Contracts, and thence the rudiments both of morall and of civill prudence.
de cive chapter 1
De Civechapter 1
  • Greeks: man is political by nature
  • Hobbes: man in not political by nature
    • We doe not therefore by nature seek Society for its own sake, but that we may receive some Honour or Profit from it; these we desire Primarily, that Secondarily
    • all free congress ariseth either from mutual poverty, or from vain glory
    • All Society therefore is either for Gain, or for Glory; (i.e.) not so much for love of our Fellowes, as for love of our Selves:

All mankind is equal:

    • they are equalls who can doe equall things one against the other; but they who can do the greatest things, (namely kill) can doe equall things. All men therefore among themselves are by nature equall; the inequality we now discern, hath its spring from the Civill Law.

All men in the State of nature have a desire, and will to hurt, but not proceeding from the same cause

    • one man …,permits as much to others, as he assumes to himself (equality).
    • another, supposing himselfe above others, will…doe what he lists,….This man’s will to hurt ariseth from Vain glory (inequality).

the combate of Wits is the fiercest

    • there are no Warres so sharply wag'd as between Sects of the same Religion, and Factions of the same Commonweale, where the Contestation is Either concerning Doctrines, or PolitiquePrudence
  • the most frequent reason why men desire to hurt each other
    • Scarcity; it followes that the strongest must have it

the chiefest of naturallevills, which is Death

    • every man is desirous of what is good for him, and shuns what is evill, but chiefly the chiefest of naturallevills, which is Death; and this he doth, by a certain impulsion of nature, no lesse than that whereby a Stone moves downward:
  • Therefore the first foundation of naturall Right is this, That every man as much as in him lies endeavour to protect his life and members.

Right to self-preservation Right to use all the means, and do all the actions, without which He cannot Preserve himself.

  • I am the judge of what I need for self-preservatin
  • Everyman has a right to everything, even to other people
    • See Leviathan chp XIV: “it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to one another's body “

it cannot be deny'd but that the naturall state of men, before they entr'd into Society, was a meer War, and that not simply, but a War of all men, against all men;

  • Fellowes are gotten either by constraint, or by consent;
    • Consent is weak
    • Instead, a sure and irresistible Power confers the right of Dominion, and ruling over those who cannot resist;
hobbes leviathan
  • For such is the nature of men that how so ever 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. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of any thing than that every man is contented with his share.

in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel.

  • First, competition;
  • secondly, diffidence (security against perceived threats)
  • thirdly, glory.

. 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 such 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, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.


Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice.

  • A general rule of reason:
    • seek peace,
    • when peace is not possible, then use all helps and advantages of war.

Men can renounce, or transfer their right

  • The mutual transferring of right is that which men call contract.
  • Government is formed when all men transfer their natural right to all to one person: the monarch.


    • All men are created equal
    • Private property is conventional
    • Justice is conventional: No injustice apart from human laws
      • (“Injustice against men presupposeth Humane Lawes” )
    • Mankind has natural right (to self-preservation)
    • To protect that right, a government with absolute power must be established
    • No right of rebellion


  • Equality, rights, social contract---lead to unlimited, undemocratic, absolute government.