Thomas Hobbes


English Political Philosopher

Author Quotes

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called Facts. They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.

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.

Curiosity is the lust of the mind.

For all laws are general judgments, or sentences of the legislator; as also every particular judgment is a law to him whose case is judged.

Forasmuch as all knowledge beginneth from experience, therefore also new experience is the beginning of new knowledge, and the increase of experience the beginning of the increase of knowledge. Whatsoever, therefore, happeneth new to a man, giveth him matter of hope of knowing somewhat that he knew not before. And this hope and expectation of future knowledge from anything that happeneth new and strange is that passion which we commonly call admiration; and the same considered as appetite is called curiosity, which is appetite of knowledge.

If any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and on the way to their end, which is principally their own conservation, and sometimes their dedication only, endeavor to destroy or subdue one another.

In these four things, opinion of ghosts, ignorance of second causes, devotions towards what men fear, and taking of things casual for prognostics, consisteth the natural seed of religion; which by reason of the different fancies, judgments, and passions of several men, hath grown up into ceremonies so different, that those which are used by one man, are for the most part ridiculous to another.

Love is a person’s idea about his/her needs in other person what you are attracted to.

No man's error becomes his own law, nor obliges him to persist in it.

Such truth as opposeth no man's profit nor pleasure is to all men welcome.

The first and fundamental law of Nature, which is, to seek peace and follow it.

The most part are too busy in getting food, and the rest too negligent to understand.

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.

This is commonly, in the schools, called metaphysics, as being part of the philosophy of Aristotle, which hath that for title; but it is in another sense; for there it signifieth as much as books written or placed after his natural philosophy. But the schools take them for books of supernatural philosophy; for the word metaphysic will bear both these senses.

Whatsoever accidents Or qualities our sense make us think there be in the world, they are not there, but are seemings and apparitions only. The things that really are in the world without us, are those motions by which these seemings are caused. And this is the great deception of sense, which also is by sense to be corrected. For as sense telleth me, when I see directly, that the colour seemeth to be in the object; so also sense telleth me, when I see by reflection, that colour is not in the object.

All men that are ambitious of military command, are inclined to continue the causes of war; and to stir up trouble and sedition: for there is no honor military but by war; nor any such hope to mind an ill game, as by causing a new shuffle.

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.

Desire of knowledge, and arts of peace, inclineth men to obey a common power: for such desire, containeth a desire of leisure: and consequently protection from some other power than their own.

For between true Science, and erroneous Doctrines, Ignorance is in the middle. Naturall sense and imagination, are not subject to absurdity. Nature it selfe cannot erre: and as men abound in copiousnesses of language; so they become more wise, or more mad than ordinary. Nor is it possible without Letters for any man to become either excellently wise, or (unless his memory be hurt by disease, or ill constitution of organs) excellently foolish. For words are wise men's counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas, or any other Doctor whatsoever, if but a man.

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 own conservation, and sometimes their declaration only), endeavor to destroy or subdue one another. - Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 1651.

If I had read as much as other men, I should have known no more than they.

In written laws, men ... make a difference between the letter and the sentence of the law: And when by the letter is meant whatsoever can be gathered from the bare words, 'tis well distinguished. For the significance of almost all words, are either themselves, or in the metaphorical use of them, ambiguous, and may be drawn in argument to make many senses, but there is only one sense of the law.

Man gives indifferent names to one and the same thing from the difference of their own passions; as they that approve a private opinion call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.

Nor can a man any more live, whose Desires are at an end, than he, whose Senses and Imaginations are at a stand.

Sudden glory is the passion which maketh those grimaces called laughter.

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English Political Philosopher