Book: Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

 Title:    Leviathan

Autor:    Thomas Hobbes   

Category:    Philosophy

Language:    English

Leviathan Thomas Hobbes



LEVIATHAN - by Thomas Hobbes 1651

NATURE (the art whereby God hath made and governs the world) is by the art of man, as in many
other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an artificial animal. For seeing life is but a motion
of limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principal part within, why may we not say that all automata
(engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch) have an artificial life? For what
is the heart, but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings; and the joints, but so many wheels,
giving motion to the whole body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating
that rational and most excellent work of Nature, man. For by art is created that great LEVIATHAN
called a COMMONWEALTH, or STATE (in Latin, CIVITAS), which is but an artificial man, though of
greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in
which the sovereignty is an artificial soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; the magistrates
and other officers of judicature and execution, artificial joints; reward and punishment (by which
fastened to the seat of the sovereignty, every joint and member is moved to perform his duty) are the
nerves, that do the same in the body natural; the wealth and riches of all the particular members are
the strength; salus populi (the people's safety) its business; counsellors, by whom all things needful for
it to know are suggested unto it, are the memory; equity and laws, an artificial reason and will; concord,
health; sedition, sickness; and civil war, death. Lastly, the pacts and covenants, by which the parts of
this body politic were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that fiat, or the Let us make man,
pronounced by God in the Creation.
To describe the nature of this artificial man, I will consider
First, the matter thereof, and the artificer; both which is man.
Secondly, how, and by what covenants it is made; what are the rights and just power or authority of a
sovereign; and what it is that preserveth and dissolveth it.
Thirdly, what is a Christian Commonwealth.
Lastly, what is the Kingdom of Darkness.
Concerning the first, there is a saying much usurped of late, that wisdom is acquired, not by reading of
books, but of men. Consequently whereunto, those persons, that for the most part can give no other
proof of being wise, take great delight to show what they think they have read in men, by uncharitable
censures of one another behind their backs. But there is another saying not of late understood, by
which they might learn truly to read one another, if they would take the pains; and that is, Nosce
teipsum, Read thyself: which was not meant, as it is now used, to countenance either the barbarous
state of men in power towards their inferiors, or to encourage men of low degree to a saucy behaviour
towards their betters; but to teach us that for the similitude of the thoughts and passions of one man, to
the thoughts and passions of another, whosoever looketh into himself and considereth what he doth
when he does think, opine, reason, hope, fear, etc., and upon what grounds; he shall thereby read and
know what are the thoughts and passions of all other men upon the like occasions. I say the similitude
of passions, which are the same in all men, -- desire, fear, hope, etc.; not the similitude of the objects of
the passions, which are the things desired, feared, hoped, etc.: for these the constitution individual, and
particular education, do so vary, and they are so easy to be kept from our knowledge, that the
characters of man's heart, blotted and confounded as they are with dissembling, lying, counterfeiting,
and erroneous doctrines, are legible only to him that searcheth hearts. And though by men's actions we
do discover their design sometimes; yet to do it without comparing them with our own, and
distinguishing all circumstances by which the case may come to be altered, is to decipher without a
key, and be for the most part deceived, by too much trust or by too much diffidence, as he that reads is
himself a good or evil man.
But let one man read another by his actions never so perfectly, it serves him only with his
acquaintance, which are but few. He that is to govern a whole nation must read in himself, not this, or
that particular man; but mankind: which though it be hard to do, harder than to learn any language or
science; yet, when I shall have set down my own reading orderly and perspicuously, the pains left
another will be only to consider if he also find not the same in himself. For this kind of doctrine
admitteth no other demonstration.


CONCERNING the thoughts of man, I will consider them first singly, and afterwards in train or
dependence upon one another. Singly, they are every one a representation or appearance of some
quality, or other accident of a body without us, which is commonly called an object. Which object
worketh on the eyes, ears, and other parts of man's body, and by diversity of working produceth
diversity of appearances.
The original of them all is that which we call sense, (for there is no conception in a man's mind which
hath not at first, totally or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense). The rest are derived from
that original.
To know the natural cause of sense is not very necessary to the business now in hand; and I have
elsewhere written of the same at large. Nevertheless, to fill each part of my present method, I will
briefly deliver the same in this place.
The cause of sense is the external body, or object, which presseth the organ proper to each sense,
either immediately, as in the taste and touch; or mediately, as in seeing, hearing, and smelling: which
pressure, by the mediation of nerves and other strings and membranes of the body, continued inwards
to the brain and heart, causeth there a resistance, or counter-pressure, or endeavour of the heart to
deliver itself: which endeavour, because outward, seemeth to be some matter without. And this
seeming, or fancy, is that which men call sense; and consisteth, as to the eye, in a light, or colour
figured; to the ear, in a sound; to the nostril, in an odour; to the tongue and palate, in a savour; and to
the rest of the body, in heat, cold, hardness, softness, and such other qualities as we discern by
feeling. All which qualities called sensible are in the object that causeth them but so many several
motions of the matter, by which it presseth our organs diversely. Neither in us that are pressed are they
anything else but diverse motions (for motion produceth nothing but motion). But their appearance to
us is fancy, the same waking that dreaming. And as pressing, rubbing, or striking the eye makes us
fancy a light, and pressing the ear produceth a din; so do the bodies also we see, or hear, produce the
same by their strong, though unobserved action. For if those colours and sounds were in the bodies or
objects that cause them, they could not be severed from them, as by glasses and in echoes by
reflection we see they are: where we know the thing we see is in one place; the appearance, in
another. And though at some certain distance the real and very object seem invested with the fancy it
begets in us; yet still the object is one thing, the image or fancy is another. So that sense in all cases is
nothing else but original fancy caused (as I have said) by the pressure that is, by the motion of external
things upon our eyes, ears, and other organs, thereunto ordained.
But the philosophy schools, through all the universities of Christendom, grounded upon certain texts of
Aristotle, teach another doctrine; and say, for the cause of vision, that the thing seen sendeth forth on
every side a visible species, (in English) a visible show, apparition, or aspect, or a being seen; the
receiving whereof into the eye is seeing. And for the cause of hearing, that the thing heard sendeth
forth an audible species, that is, an audible aspect, or audible being seen; which, entering at the ear,
maketh hearing. Nay, for the cause of understanding also, they say the thing understood sendeth forth
an intelligible species, that is, an intelligible being seen; which, coming into the understanding, makes
us understand. I say not this, as disapproving the use of universities: but because I am to speak
hereafter of their office in a Commonwealth, I must let you see on all occasions by the way what things
would be amended in them; amongst which the frequency of insignificant speech is one.


THAT when a thing lies still, unless somewhat else stir it, it will lie still for ever, is a truth that no man
doubts of. But that when a thing is in motion, it will eternally be in motion, unless somewhat else stay it,
though the reason be the same (namely, that nothing can change itself), is not so easily assented to.
For men measure, not only other men, but all other things, by themselves: and because they find
themselves subject after motion to pain and lassitude, think everything else grows weary of motion, and
seeks repose of its own accord; little considering whether it be not some other motion wherein that
desire of rest they find in themselves consisteth. From hence it is that the schools say, heavy bodies
fall downwards out of an appetite to rest, and to conserve their nature in that place which is most
proper for them; ascribing appetite, and knowledge of what is good for their conservation (which is
more than man has), to things inanimate, absurdly.
When a body is once in motion, it moveth (unless something else hinder it) eternally; and whatsoever
hindreth it, cannot in an instant, but in time, and by degrees, quite extinguish it: and as we see in the
water, though the wind cease, the waves give not over rolling for a long time after; so also it happeneth
in that motion which is made in the internal parts of a man, then, when he sees, dreams, etc. For after
the object is removed, or the eye shut, we still retain an image of the thing seen, though more obscure
than when we see it. And this is it the Latins call imagination, from the image made in seeing, and
apply the same, though improperly, to all the other senses. But the Greeks call it fancy, which signifies
appearance, and is as proper to one sense as to another. Imagination, therefore, is nothing but
decaying sense; and is found in men and many other living creatures, as well sleeping as waking.
The decay of sense in men waking is not the decay of the motion made in sense, but an obscuring of it,
in such manner as the light of the sun obscureth the light of the stars; which stars do no less exercise
their virtue by which they are visible in the day than in the night. But because amongst many strokes
which our eyes, ears, and other organs receive from external bodies, the predominant only is sensible;
therefore the light of the sun being predominant, we are not affected with the action of the stars. And
any object being removed from our eyes, though the impression it made in us remain, yet other objects
more present succeeding, and working on us, the imagination of the past is obscured and made weak,
as the voice of a man is in the noise of the day. From whence it followeth that the longer the time is,
after the sight or sense of any object, the weaker is the imagination. For the continual change of man's
body destroys in time the parts which in sense were moved: so that distance of time, and of place, hath
one and the same effect in us. For as at a great distance of place that which we look at appears dim,
and without distinction of the smaller parts, and as voices grow weak and inarticulate: so also after
great distance of time our imagination of the past is weak; and we lose, for example, of cities we have
seen, many particular streets; and of actions, many particular circumstances. This decaying sense,
when we would express the thing itself (I mean fancy itself), we call imagination, as I said before. But
when we would express the decay, and signify that the sense is fading, old, and past, it is called
memory. So that imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath
diverse names.
Much memory, or memory of many things, is called experience. Again, imagination being only of those
things which have been formerly perceived by sense, either all at once, or by parts at several times; the
former (which is the imagining the whole object, as it was presented to the sense) is simple
imagination, as when one imagineth a man, or horse, which he hath seen before. The other is
compounded, when from the sight of a man at one time, and of a horse at another, we conceive in our
mind a centaur. So when a man compoundeth the image of his own person with the image of the
actions of another man, as when a man imagines himself a Hercules or an Alexander (which
happeneth often to them that are much taken with reading of romances), it is a compound imagination,
and properly but a fiction of the mind. There be also other imaginations that rise in men, though
waking, from the great impression made in sense: as from gazing upon the sun, the impression leaves
an image of the sun before our eyes a long time after; and from being long and vehemently attent upon
geometrical figures, a man shall in the dark, though awake, have the images of lines and angles before
his eyes; which kind of fancy hath no particular name, as being a thing that doth not commonly fall into
men's discourse.
The imaginations of them that sleep are those we call dreams. And these also (as all other
imaginations) have been before, either totally or by parcels, in the sense. And because in sense, the
brain and nerves, which are the necessary organs of sense, are so benumbed in sleep as not easily to
be moved by the action of external objects, there can happen in sleep no imagination, and therefore no
dream, but what proceeds from the agitation of the inward parts of man's body; which inward parts, for
the connexion they have with the brain and other organs, when they be distempered do keep the same
in motion; whereby the imaginations there formerly made, appear as if a man were waking; saving that
the organs of sense being now benumbed, so as there is no new object which can master and obscure
them with a more vigorous impression, a dream must needs be more clear, in this silence of sense,
than are our waking thoughts. And hence it cometh to pass that it is a hard matter, and by many
thought impossible, to distinguish exactly between sense and dreaming. For my part, when I consider
that in dreams I do not often nor constantly think of the same persons, places, objects, and actions that
I do waking, nor remember so long a train of coherent thoughts dreaming as at other times; and
because waking I often observe the absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdities of my
waking thoughts, I am well satisfied that, being awake, I know I dream not; though when I dream, I
think myself awake.
And seeing dreams are caused by the distemper of some of the inward parts of the body, diverse
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.
The most difficult discerning of a man's dream from his waking thoughts is, then, when by some
accident we observe not that we have slept: which is easy to happen to a man full of fearful thoughts;
and whose conscience is much troubled; and that sleepeth without the circumstances of going to bed,
or putting off his clothes, as one that noddeth in a chair. For he that taketh pains, and industriously lays
himself to sleep, in case any uncouth and exorbitant fancy come unto him, cannot easily think it other
than a dream. We read of Marcus Brutus (one that had his life given him by Julius Caesar, and was
also his favorite, and notwithstanding murdered him), how at Philippi, the night before he gave battle to
Augustus Caesar, he saw a fearful apparition, which is commonly related by historians as a vision, but,
considering the circumstances, one may easily judge to have been but a short dream. For sitting in his
tent, pensive and troubled with the horror of his rash act, it was not hard for him, slumbering in the cold,
to dream of that which most affrighted him; which fear, as by degrees it made him wake, so also it must
needs make the apparition by degrees to vanish: and having no assurance that he slept, he could have
no cause to think it a dream, or anything but a vision. And this is no very rare accident: for even they
that be perfectly awake, if they be timorous and superstitious, possessed with fearful tales, and alone in
the dark, are subject to the like fancies, and believe they see spirits and dead men's ghosts walking in
churchyards; whereas it is either their fancy only, or else the knavery of such persons as make use of
such superstitious fear to pass disguised in the night to places they would not be known to haunt.
From this ignorance of how to distinguish dreams, and other strong fancies, from vision and sense, did
arise the greatest part of the religion of the Gentiles in time past, that worshipped satyrs, fauns,
nymphs, and the like; and nowadays the opinion that rude people have of fairies, ghosts, and goblins,
and of the power of witches. For, as for witches, I think not that their witchcraft is any real power, but
yet that they are justly punished for the false belief they have that they can do such mischief, joined
with their purpose to do it if they can, their trade being nearer to a new religion than to a craft or
science. And for fairies, and walking ghosts, the opinion of them has, I think, been on purpose either
taught, or not confuted, to keep in credit the use of exorcism, of crosses, of holy water, and other such
inventions of ghostly men. Nevertheless, there is no doubt but God can make unnatural apparitions: but
that He does it so often as men need to fear such things more than they fear the stay, or change, of the
course of Nature, which he also can stay, and change, is no point of Christian faith. But evil men, under
pretext that God can do anything, are so bold as to say anything when it serves their turn, though they
think it untrue; it is the part of a wise man to believe them no further than right reason makes that which
they say appear credible. If this superstitious fear of spirits were taken away, and with it prognostics
from dreams, false prophecies, and many other things depending thereon, by which crafty ambitious
persons abuse the simple people, men would be would be much more fitted than they are for civil
And this ought to be the work of the schools, but they rather nourish such doctrine. For (not knowing
what imagination, or the senses are) what they receive, they teach: some saying that imaginations rise
of themselves, and have no cause; others that they rise most commonly from the will; and that good
thoughts are blown (inspired) into a man by God, and evil thoughts, by the Devil; or that good thoughts
are poured (infused) into a man by God, and evil ones by the Devil. Some say the senses receive the
species of things, and deliver them to the common sense; and the common sense delivers them over
to the fancy, and the fancy to the memory, and the memory to the judgement, like handing of things
from one to another, with many words making nothing understood.
The imagination that is raised in man (or any other creature endued with the faculty of imagining) by
words, or other voluntary signs, is that we generally call understanding, and is common to man and
beast. For a dog by custom will understand the call or the rating of his master; and so will many other
beasts. That understanding which is peculiar to man is the understanding not only his will, but his
conceptions and thoughts, by the sequel and contexture of the names of things into affirmations,
negations, and other forms of speech: and of this kind of understanding I shall speak hereafter.

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Book: Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jonh 3:16