Hobbes and Locke and the beginnings of “liberalism” (pp8).


Return to:         Notes on Hobbes



EXTRACTS (i) from HOBBES (Leviathan):


1.         The skill of making and maintaining Common Wealths consists in certain rules, as doth Arithmetic and Geometry; not (as tennis play) in practice only… (II, 20)


            I recover some hope that, one time or another, this writing of mine may fall into the hands of a sovereign, who will consider it… and by the exercise of entire Sovereignty in protecting the Publique teaching of it, convert the Truth of Speculation, into the Utility of Practice.


            The common people’s minds are like clean paper, fit to receive whatsoever by Public Authority shall be imprinted on them.


2.         There be in Animals, two sorts of Motions peculiar to them: One called Vitall; … such are the course of the Bloud, the Pulse, the Breathing… The other is Animall motion, otherwise called Voluntary Motion [… commonly called Endeavour].


            This Endeavour, when it is towards something that causes it, is called Appetite, or Desire… And when Endeavour is fromward something, it is generally called Aversion… (I, 6)


3.         But whatsoever is the object of any man’s Appetite or Desire; that is it, which for his part calleth Good: And the object of his Hate, and Aversion, Evil; and of his Contempt, Vile and Inconsiderable.


            As, in Sense, that which is within us, is onely Motion, caused by the action of external objects… so, when the action of the same object is continued from the Eyes, Ears, and other organs to the heart; the reall effect there is nothing, but Motion, or Endeavour, which consisteth in Appetite, or Aversion, to, or from the object moving. (I, 6)


4.         When in the mind of man, Appetites, and Aversions, Hopes, and Feares, concerning one and the same thing, arise alternately; and divers good and evil consequences of the doing or omitting the thing propounded, come successively into our thoughts; so that sometimes we have an Appetite to it; sometimes an Aversion from it; sometimes Hope to be able to do it; sometimes Despaire, or feare to attempt it; the whole summe of Desires, Aversions, Hopes, Feares, continued till the thing be either done, or thought impossible, is that we call Deliberation.


            For a Voluntary Act is that, which proceedeth from the Will… [and Will] is the last Appetite in Deliberating. (I, 6)



5.         The Power of a Man, (to take it Universally), is his present means, to obtain some future apparent Good.


            Naturall Power, is the eminence of the Faculties of Body, or Mind: as extraordinary Strength, Forme, Prudence, Arts, Eloquence, Liberality, Nobility. Instrumentall are those Powers, which acquired by these, or by fortune, are means and instruments to acquire more: as Riches, Reputation, Friends, and the secret working of God, which men call Good Luck. For the nature of Power, is in this point, like to Fame, increasing as it proceeds. (I, 10)


6.         In the first place, I put for a generall inclination of all mankind, a perpetuall and restless desire for Power after power, that ceaseth onely in Death. And the cause of this, is not alwayes that a man hopes for a more intensive delight, that 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. (I, 11).


(See also Elements of Philosophy part (i) ch 8, quoted in MacPherson: The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism): “the power of one man resisteth and hindereth the power of another”; power is only effective when it is “in excess of” someone else’s.


7.         Nature hath made men so equall, in the faculties of body, and mind; …as…when all is reckoned together, the differences between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himselfe any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he. (I, 13)


8.         And from this equality of ability, ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our Ends. And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their End, (which is principally their owne conservation, and sometimes their delectation only,) endeavour to destroy, or subdue one an other…


            And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any man to secure himselfe, as Anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can, so long, till he see no other power great enough to endanger him. (I, 13, and see 11)


9.         So that in the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarrel. First, Competition; Secondly, Diffidence; 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 mens persons, wives, children, and cattell; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles [that is, for example, things other people say about them].  (I, 13)


10.       During the time men live without a common power to keep them in awe, they are in that condition which is called War; and such a war as is of every man, against every man… 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 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.” (I, 13)


11.       A Law of Nature… is a Precept, or generall Rule, found out by Reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or [which] taketh away the means of preserving the same; and to omit that by which he thinketh it may be best preserved. (I, 14 – 15)


12.       And because the condition of man… is a condition of Warre of every one against every one; in which case every one is governed by his own Reason; and there is nothing the can make use of, that may not be a help unto him, in preserving his life against his enemyes; It followeth, that in such a condition, every man has a Right to every thing; even to one anothers body. And therefore, as long as this naturall Right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man (how strong or wise so ever 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 farre as he has any hope of attaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of Warre.


the first branch [of this first rule]… is to seek Peace, and follow it. The Second [branch], the summe of the Right of Nature; which is, By all means we can, to defend ourselves.


The right of Nature… is the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he wille himselfe, 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 Judgment and Reason, hee shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto. (I, 14 – 15)


13.       From this Fundamental law of Nature, by which men are commanded to endeavour Peace, is derived this second Law; That a man be willing, when others are so too, as farre-forth, as for Peace, and defence of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.  (I, 14 – 15)




14.       When men agree among themselves, to submit to some Man, or Assembly of men, voluntarily, on confidence to be protected by him against all others…[this]…may be called a Political Common-wealth. The only way to erect such a Common Power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of Forraigners, and the injuries of one another… is, to confer all their power and strength upon one Man, or upon one Assembly of men, that may reduce all their Wills, by plurality of voices, unto one Will: …made by Covenant of every man with every man, in such a manner, as if every man should say to every man, I Authorize and give up my Right of Governing my selfe, to this man, or this Assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy Right to him, and Authorize all his Actions in like manner… This is the generation of that great Leviathan…to which wee owe…our peace and defence. (II, 17; I, 13, 17, 18).


15.       By this Authoritie, given him by every particular man in the Common-wealth, he hath use of so much Power and Strength conferred on him, that by terror thereof, he is inabled to forme the wills of them all, to Peace at home, and mutuall ayd against their enemies abroad. (II, 17, 18)


16.       [every man has a right to disobey if the sovereign command him] to kill, wound, or mayme himselfe; or not to resist those that assault him; or to abstain from the use of food, ayre, medicine, or any other thing without which he cannot live.


 The Obligation of Subjects to the Soveraign, is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth, by which he is able to protect them. (II, 21).