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26+ quotes from Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

Quotes from Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes ·  736 pages

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“Hell is truth seen too late.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“For such is the nature of man, 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 mens at a distance.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“The source of every crime, is some defect of the understanding; or some error in reasoning; or some sudden force of the passions. Defect in the understanding is ignorance; in reasoning, erroneous opinion.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“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.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“So that in the nature of man,
we find three principal causes of quarrel:

First, Competition;
Secondly, Dissidence;
Thirdly, Glory.

The first, maketh men invade for Gain;
the second, for Safety;
and the third, for Reputation.

The first use Violence, to make themselves Masters of other men's persons, wives, children and cattle;
the second, to defend them;
the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their Persons, or by reflexion in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“For it can never be that war shall preserve life, and peace destroy it.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man's nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“If men are naturally in a state of war, why do they always carry arms and why do they have keys to lock their doors?”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“The universe, the whole mass of things that are, is corporeal, that is to say, body, and hath the dimensions of magnitude, length, breadth and depth. Every part of the universe is ‘body’ and that which is not ‘body’ is no part of the universe, and because the universe is all, that which is no part of it is nothing, and consequently nowhere.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himselfe, not this, or that particular man; but Man-kind;”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“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 judgement are the same thing, and as the judgement, so also the conscience may be erroneous.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“For by Art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON-WEALTH, or STATE, (in latine 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;”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“War consisteth not in battle only,or the act of fighting;but in a tract of time,wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“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.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“As if it were Injustice to sell dearer than we buy; or to give more to a man than he merits. The value of all things contracted for, is measured by the Appetite of the Contractors: and therefore the just value, is that which they be contented to give.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“Hurt inflicted, if lesse than the benefit of transgressing, is not punishment... and is rather the Price, or Redemption, than the Punishment of a Crime.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“And because the condition of man . . . is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case every one 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; it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to one another's body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time which nature ordinarily alloweth men to live. And consequently it is a precept, or general rule of reason: that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war. The first branch of which rule containeth the first and fundamental law of nature, which is: to seek peace and follow it. The second, the sum of the right of nature, which is: by all means we can to defend ourselves.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“The skill of making, and maintaining Common-wealths, consisteth in certain Rules, as doth Arithmetique and Geometry; not (as Tennis-play) on Practise onely: which Rules, neither poor men have the leisure, nor men that have had the leisure, have hitherto had the curiosity, or the method to find out.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“And if this be madness in the multitude, it is the same in every particular man. For as in the midst of the sea, though a man perceive no sound of that part of the water next him, yet he is well assured that part contributes as much to the roaring of the sea as any other part of the same quantity: so also, though we perceive no great unquietness in one or two men, yet we may be well assured that their singular passions are parts of the seditious roaring of a troubled nation.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“That Wisedome 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 shew what they think they have read in men, by uncharitable censures of one another behind their backs.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“Ignorance of naturall causes disposeth a man to Credulity, so as to believe many times impossibilities: for such know nothing to the contrary, but that they may be true; being unable to detect the Impossibility. And Credulity, because men love to be hearkened unto in company, disposeth them to lying: so that Ignorance it selfe without Malice, is able to make a man bothe to believe lyes, and tell them; and sometimes also to invent them.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“Respice finem; that is to say, in all your actions, look often upon what you would have, as the thing that directs all your thoughts in the way to attain it.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“These dictates of Reason, men use to call by the name of Lawes; but improperly: for they are but Conclusions, or Theoremes concerning what conduceth to the conservation and defence of themselves; whereas Law, properly is the word of him, that by right hath command over others. But yet if we consider the same Theoremes, as delivered in the word of God, that by right commandeth all things; then are they properly called Lawes.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


“The attaining to this Soveraigne Power, is by two wayes. One, by Naturall force; as when a man maketh his children, to submit themselves, and their children to his government, as being able to destroy them if they refuse, or by Warre subdueth his enemies to his will, giving them their lives on that condition. The other, is when men agree amongst themselves, to submit to some Man, or Assembly of men, voluntarily, on confidence to be protected by him against all others. This later, may be called a Politicall Common-wealth, or Common-wealth by Institution; and the former, a Common-wealth by Acquisition. And first, I shall speak of a Common-wealth by Institution.”
― Thomas Hobbes, quote from Leviathan


About the author

Thomas Hobbes
Born place: in Westport, now part of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England, The United Kingdom
Born date April 5, 1588
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