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Thomas Hobbes was born on 5th April 1558 in Westport Wiltshire England. Sometimes he is referred to as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. He was an English philosopher who is considered the founding father of modern political philosophy. This philosophy has been well articulated in his best book Leviathan which laid the foundation for western political philosophy with his social contract theory. In brief, Thomas Hobbes viewed the government primarily as a tool for ensuring collective security.
Hobbes also enriched other fields including ethics, geometry, physics of gases, general philosophy, jurisprudence, history, and theology. He also developed fundamentals of European liberal thought. Hobbes was the first person to advocate for a centralized government to save the community from internal and external forces and threats.
Hobbes’ philosophy has made significant contributions to political thought. We have gathered up our favorite collection of his quotes to inspire you.
Thomas Hobbes Quotes
1. “There is no such thing as perpetual tranquillity of mind while we live here; because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense.”– Thomas Hobbes
2. “The Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.”– Thomas Hobbes
3. “They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.”– Thomas Hobbes
4. “The praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living.”– Thomas Hobbes
5. “The right of nature… is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life.”– Thomas Hobbes
6. “The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.”– Thomas Hobbes
7. “That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense 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.”– Thomas Hobbes
8. “All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called ‘Facts’. They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.”– Thomas Hobbes
9. “If any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies.”– Thomas Hobbes
10. “The original of all great and lasting societies consisted not in the mutual good will men had toward each other, but in the mutual fear they had of each other.”– Thomas Hobbes
11. “To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.”– Thomas Hobbes
12. “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
13. “For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.”– Thomas Hobbes
14. “A man’s conscience and his judgment are the same thing, and, as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous.”– Thomas Hobbes
15. “It is many times with a fraudulent Design that men stick their corrupt Doctrine with the Cloves of other mens Wit.”– Thomas Hobbes
16. “When all the world is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war, which provideth for every man, by victory or death.”– Thomas Hobbes
17. “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
18. “When all the world is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war, which provideth for every man, by victory or death.”– Thomas Hobbes
19. “The disembodied spirit is immortal; there is nothing of it that can grow old or die. But the embodied spirit sees death on the horizon as soon as its day dawns.”– Thomas Hobbes
20. “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
21. “It is fairer to tax people on what they extract from the economy, as roughly measured by their consumption, than to tax them on what they produce for the economy, as roughly measured by their income.”– Thomas Hobbes
22. “The end of knowledge is power … the scope of all speculation is the performing of some action or thing to be done.”– Thomas Hobbes
23. “And seeing every man is presumed to do all things in order to his own benefit, no man is a fit Arbitrator in his own cause.”– Thomas Hobbes
24. “Emulation is grief arising from seeing one’s self, exceeded or excelled by his concurrent, together with hope to equal or exceed him in time to come, by his own ability. But envy is the same grief joined with pleasure conceived in the imagination of some ill-fortune that may befall him.”– Thomas Hobbes
25. “Immortality is a belief grounded upon other men’s sayings, that they knew it supernaturally; or that they knew those who knew them that knew others that knew it supernaturally.”– Thomas Hobbes
26. “In the very shadows of doubt a thread of reason (so to speak) begins, by whose guidance we shall escape to the clearest light.”– Thomas Hobbes
27. “I often observe the absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdity of my waking thoughts.”– Thomas Hobbes
28. “Laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly.”– Thomas Hobbes
29. “Prudence is but experience, which equal time, equally bestows on all men, in those things they equally apply themselves unto.”– Thomas Hobbes
30. “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
31. “I had requested all who might find aught meriting censure in my writings, to do me the favor of pointing it out to me, I may state that no objections worthy of remark have been alleged against what I then said on these questions except two, to which I will here briefly reply.”– Thomas Hobbes
32. “Every time reason stands against the human, the human will stand against the reason.”– Thomas Hobbes
33. “Felicity is a continual progress of the desire, from one object to another; the attaining of the former being still but the way to the latter.”– Thomas Hobbes
34. “The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame or blame. s.”– Thomas Hobbes
35. “He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.”– Thomas Hobbes
36. “I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.”– Thomas Hobbes
37. “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
38. “Power as is really divided, and as dangerously to all purposes, by sharing with another an Indirect Power, as a Direct one.”– Thomas Hobbes
39. “A covenant not to defend myself from force by force is always void. For … no man can transfer or lay down his Right to save himself. For the right men have by Nature to protect themselves, when none else can protect them, can by no Covenant be relinquished. … [The right] to defend ourselves [is the] summe of the Right of Nature.”– Thomas Hobbes
40. “Because silver and gold have their value from the matter itself, they have first this privilege, that the value of them cannot be altered by the power of one, nor of a few commonwealths, as being a common measure of the commodities of all places. But base money may easily be enhanced or abased.”– Thomas Hobbes
41. “Fear of things invisible in the natural seed of that which everyone in himself calleth religion.”– Thomas Hobbes
42. “A man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force, to take away his life.”– Thomas Hobbes
43. “For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.”– Thomas Hobbes
44. “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.”– Thomas Hobbes
45. “He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but Man-kind: 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 onely to consider, if he also find not the same in himself. For this kind of Doctrine, admitteth no other Demonstration.”– Thomas Hobbes
Video: Thomas Hobbes Political Theory
This video gives a great short and educational overview of Hobbes’ political theory, especially education, religion and governance.
To wrap it up, Thomas Hobbes was a well-known philosopher who had mastered numerous disciplines in the education system including general philosophy geometry, and more. His book ‘ leviathan” laid the foundation or rather a background of western political philosophy which demonstrates that his skills were unmatched.
Reading through the above quotes about Thomas Hobbes will sharpen your mind and thought about governments as well as other disciplines within the education system.
Image Credit: National Trust, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons