Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
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Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, commonly referred to as Leviathan, is a book written by Thomas Hobbes. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan. The work concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory. Written during the English Civil War (1642–1651), it argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that civil war and the brute situation of a state of nature ("the war of all against all") could only be avoided by strong, undivided government.


Thomas Hobbes


Leviathan or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civill



Your most worthy Brother Mr SIDNEY GODOLPHIN, when he lived, was pleas’dto think my studies something, and otherwise to oblige me, as you know,with real testimonies of his good opinion, great in themselves, and thegreater for the worthinesse of his person. For there is not any vertuethat disposeth a man, either to the service of God, or to the serviceof his Country, to Civill Society, or private Friendship, that did notmanifestly appear in his conversation, not as acquired by necessity,or affected upon occasion, but inhaerent, and shining in a generousconstitution of his nature. Therefore in honour and gratitude to him,and with devotion to your selfe, I humbly Dedicate unto you this mydiscourse of Common-wealth. I know not how the world will receive it,nor how it may reflect on those that shall seem to favour it. For in away beset with those that contend on one side for too great Liberty, andon the other side for too much Authority, ‘tis hard to passe between thepoints of both unwounded. But yet, me thinks, the endeavour to advancethe Civill Power, should not be by the Civill Power condemned; norprivate men, by reprehending it, declare they think that Power toogreat. Besides, I speak not of the men, but (in the Abstract) of theSeat of Power, (like to those simple and unpartiall creatures in theRoman Capitol, that with their noyse defended those within it, notbecause they were they, but there) offending none, I think, but thosewithout, or such within (if there be any such) as favour them. Thatwhich perhaps may most offend, are certain Texts of Holy Scripture,alledged by me to other purpose than ordinarily they use to be byothers. But I have done it with due submission, and also (in order tomy Subject) necessarily; for they are the Outworks of the Enemy, fromwhence they impugne the Civill Power. If notwithstanding this, you findmy labour generally decryed, you may be pleased to excuse your selfe,and say that I am a man that love my own opinions, and think all true Isay, that I honoured your Brother, and honour you, and have presum’d onthat, to assume the Title (without your knowledge) of being, as I am,


Your most humble, and most obedient servant, Thomas Hobbes.

Paris APRILL 15/25 1651.

The Introduction

Nature (the art whereby God hath made and governes the world) is by theart of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that itcan make an Artificial Animal. For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs,the begining whereof is in some principall part within; why may we notsay, that all Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs andwheeles as doth a watch) have an artificiall life? For what is theHeart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and theJoynts, but so many Wheeles, giving motion to the whole Body, such aswas intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating thatRationall and most excellent worke of Nature, Man. For by Art is createdthat great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON-WEALTH, or STATE, (in latineCIVITAS) which is but an Artificiall Man; though of greater statureand strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence itwas intended; and in which, the Soveraignty is an Artificiall Soul, asgiving life and motion to the whole body; The Magistrates, and otherOfficers of Judicature and Execution, artificiall Joynts; Reward andPunishment (by which fastned to the seat of the Soveraignty, every joyntand member is moved to performe his duty) are the Nerves, that do thesame in the Body Naturall; The Wealth and Riches of all the particularmembers, are the Strength; Salus Populi (the Peoples Safety) itsBusinesse; Counsellors, by whom all things needfull for it to know,are suggested unto it, are the Memory; Equity and Lawes, an artificiallReason and Will; Concord, Health; Sedition, Sicknesse; and Civill War,Death. Lastly, the Pacts and Covenants, by which the parts of this BodyPolitique were at first made, set together, and united, resemble thatFiat, or the Let Us Make Man, pronounced by God in the Creation.

To describe the Nature of this Artificiall 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 andjust Power or Authority of a Soveraigne; and what it is that Preservethand Dissolveth it.

Thirdly, what is a Christian Common-Wealth.

Lastly, what is the Kingdome of Darkness.

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