Thomas Hobbes


English Political Philosopher

Author Quotes

A lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure.

And, seeing dreams are caused by the distemper of some of the inward parts of the body, divers distempers must needs cause different dreams. And hence it is that lying cold breedeth dreams of fear, and raiseth the thought and image of some fearful object, the motion from the brain to the inner parts and from the inner parts to the brain being reciprocal; and that, as anger causeth heat in some parts of the body when we are awake, so when we sleep the overheating of the same parts causeth anger, and raiseth up in the brain the imagination of an enemy. In the same manner, as natural kindness, when we are awake, causeth desire, and desire makes heat in certain other parts of the body; so also too much heat in those parts, while we sleep, raiseth in the brain an imagination of some kindness shown. In sum, our dreams are the reverse of our waking imaginations, the motion when we are awake beginning at one end, and when we dream at another.

By Manners, I mean not here decency of behaviour; as how one man should salute another, or how a man should wash his mouth, or pick his teeth before company, and such other points of the small morals; but those qualities of mankind that concern their living together in peace and unity. To which end we are to consider that the felicity of this life consisteth not in the repose of a mind satisfied. For there is no such finis ultimus [utmost aim] nor summum bonum [greatest good] as is spoken of in the books of the old moral philosophers. Nor can a man any more live whose desires are at an end than he whose senses and imaginations are at a stand.

Every man calleth that which pleaseth, and is delightful to himself, good; and that evil which displeaseth him.

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. 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 anything than that every man is contented with his share.

He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.

In a Democracy, look how many Demagogs [that is] how many powerful Orators there are with the people.

It is one thing to desire, another to be in capacity fit for what we desire.

Miracles are marvelous works, but that which is marvelous to one, may not be so to another.

Pleasure therefore, (or Delight,) is the appearance or sense of Good; and Molestation or Displeasure, the appearance or sense of Evil.

The condition of man is a condition of war of everyone against everyone; in which case everyone is governed by his own reason; and there is nothing he can make use of , that may not be a help unto him, in preserving his life against his enemies.

The law is more easily understood by few than many words. For all words are subject to ambiguity, and therefore multiplication of words in the body of the law is multiplication of ambiguity. Besides, it seems to imply (by too much diligence) that whosoever can evade the words is without the compass of the law.

The passions that incline men to peace, are fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them.

The world is governed by opinion.

To understand this for sense it is not required that a man should be a geometrician or a logician, but that he should be mad.

Whether men will or not, they must be subject always to the Divine Power. By denying the existence or providence of God, men may shake off their ease, but not their yoke.

A man cannot lay down the right of resisting them, that assault him by force, to take away his life. Because a man cannot tell, when he seeth men proceed against him by violence whether they intend his death or not.

Another doctrine repugnant to civil society, is that whatsoever a man does against his conscience, is sin; and it dependeth on the presumption of making himself judge of good and evil. For a man's conscience and his judgment are the same thing, and as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous.

By this we may understand, there be two sorts of knowledge, whereof the one is nothing else but sense, or knowledge original (as I have said at the beginning of the second chapter), and remembrance of the same; the other is called science or knowledge of the truth of propositions, and how things are called, and is derived from understanding.

Every man is presumed to seek what is good for himself naturally, and what is just, only for Peaces sake, and accidentally.

For the laws of nature (as justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others as we would be done to) of themselves, without the terror of some power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge and the like.

Heresy is a word which, when it is used without passion, signifies a private opinion. So the different sects of the old philosophers, Academians, Peripatetics, Epicureans, Stoics, &c., were called heresies.

In a democracy, the whole assembly cannot fail unless the multitude that are to be governed fail.

It sufficiently appeareth that in a commonwealth, a subject that has no certain and assured revelation particularly to himself concerning the will of God, is to obey for such, the command of the commonwealth: for if men were at liberty to take for God's commandments their own dreams and fancies, or the dreams and fancies of private men, scarce two men would agree upon what is God's commandment, and yet in respect of them, every man would despise the commandments of the commonwealth.

Money is thrown amongst many, to be enjoyed by them that catch it.

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English Political Philosopher