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140 Thomas Hobbes Quotes on Society & the Human Mind

1. “Knowledge is power.”

2. “When all the world is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war, which provides for every manby victory or death.”

3. “Understanding is nothing else than conception caused by speech.”

4. “The condition of man is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.”

5. “Curiosity is the lust of the mind.”

6. “Words are the counters of wise men, and the money of fools. ”

7. “Whatsoever, therefore, is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them with.”

8. “In such conditions, there is no place for industry, 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.”

9. “For it can never be that war shall preserve life; and peace, destroy it.”

10. “Hell is truth seen too late.”

11. “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 men’s at a distance.”

12. “Leisure is the of philosophy.”

13. “It is one thing to desire, another to be in capacity fit for what we desire.”

14. “The first branch of which rule contained the first and fundamental law of nature—to seek peace and follow it. The second, the sum of the right of nature—by all means we can to defend ourselves.”

15. “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.”

16. “Now I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.”

17. “Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.”

18. “Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.”

19. “For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.”

20. “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I’m so far behind that I’ll never die.”

21. “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?”

22. “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.”

23. “He that is to govern a whole nation must read in himself, not this or that particular man, but mankind.”

24. “For by art is created that great Leviathan called a commonwealth, or state, which is but an artificial man; though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defense it was intended; and in which, the sovereignty is an artificial soul—as giving life and motion to the whole body.”

25. “Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calls religion.”

26. “Give an inch, he’ll take an ell.”

27. “As if it were injustice to sell dearer than we buy; or to give more to a man than he merits.”

28. “The value of all things contracted for, is measured by the appetite of the contractors, and therefore the just value is that which they are content to give.”

29. “War consists 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.”

30. “Liberty, to define it, is nothing other than the absence of impediments to motion.”

31. “Hurt inflicted, if less than the benefit of transgressing, is not punishment and is rather the price or redemption, than the punishment of a crime.”

32. “Therefore I doubt not but, if it had been a thing contrary to any man’s right of dominion, or to the interest of men that have dominion, that the three angles of a triangle should be equal to two angles of a square, that doctrine should have been, if not disputed, yet by the burning of all books of geometry suppressed, as far as he whom it concerned was able.”

33. “It is in the laws of a commonwealth, as in the laws of gaming—whatsoever the gamesters all agree on, is injustice to none of them.”

34. “I had requested all who might find it meriting to 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.”

35. “The cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained 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.”

36. “And from this followeth another law—that such things as cannot be divided be enjoyed in common, if it can be, and if the quantity of the thing permits, without stint; otherwise proportionally to the number of them that have right.”

37. “For considering the love of power naturally implanted in mankind, whosoever were made Pope, he would be tempted to uphold the same opinion.”

38. “To divide the power of a commonwealth is to dissolve it. Mixed government is not government, but division of the commonwealth into three factions.”

39. “The constitution of man’s nature is of itself subject to desire novelty.”

40. “Power simply is no more, but the excess of the power of one above that of another.”

41. “The value or worth of a man, is as of all other things, his price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power.”

42. “Every man must always seek to have some power, although not every man is self-impelled to seek as much power as others have, or to seek more than he now has.”

43. “Every man’s power resists and hinders the effects of other men’s power.”

44. “All acquired power consists in command over some of the powers of another man.”

45. “Some men’s desires are without limits.”

46. “He had only to add to it his postulate about men’s innate aversion to death, and a further postulate about men’s ability to behave with a clearer view of their own long-run interest than they commonly did, to get his prescription for obedience to an all-powerful sovereign.”

47. “If a society characterized by universal competition for power over others is to remain, for even the shortest length of time, it must be one in which there are legal, peaceful ways by which men can transfer some of the powers of others to themselves, and in which everyone is constantly peacefully engaged in seeking to get or resist this transfer.”

48. “It has been demonstrated elsewhere that the capitalist market model is the only one that fits these requirements.”

49. “That a man be willing, when others are so too, as farre-forth, as for peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be content with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.”

50. “For men would still be appetitive creatures, and would be apt to take back some of their old rights whenever they saw an immediate advantage in doing so.”

51. “They would therefore have to do more than agree to give up their natural rights.”

52. “Liberty and necessity are consistent—as in the water that has not only liberty, but a necessity of descending by the channel.”

53. “In the actions which men voluntarily do, which because they proceed their will, proceed from liberty, and yet because every act of man’s will and every desire and inclination proceedeth from some cause, and that from another cause, in a continual chain proceed from necessity.”

54. “So that man, which looks too far before him, in the care of future time, has his heart all the day long, gnawed on by fear of death, poverty, or other calamity; and has no repose, nor pause of his anxiety, but in sleep.”

55. “It is not wisdom, but authority that makes a law.”

56. “In the state of nature, profit is the measure of right.”

57. “No man’s error becomes his own law; nor obliges him to persist in it.”

58. “The Papacy is not other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.”

59. “Government is necessary, not because man is naturally bad, but because man is by nature more individualistic than social.”

60. “A democracy is no more than an aristocracy of orators. The people are so readily moved by demagogues that control must be exercised by the government over speech and press.”

61. “Reason is the soul of the law.”

62. “Believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation.”

63. “Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money.”

64. “Religions are like pills which must be swallowed whole without chewing.”

65. “In a democracy, look how many demagogues there are—that is how many powerful orators there are with the people.”

66. “Obligation is thraldom, and thraldom is hateful.”

67. “He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.”

68. “A man’s conscience and his judgment are the same thing, and as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous.”

69. “Everyone 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 follows that in such a condition, every man has a right to everything, even to one another’s body.”

70. “I often observe the absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdity of my waking thoughts.”

71. “It is many times with a fraudulent design that men stick their corrupt doctrine with the cloves of other men’s wit.”

72. “By consequence or train of thoughts, I understand that succession of one thought to another which is called, to distinguish it from discourse in words, mental discourse.”

73. “When a man thinks on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently. ”

74. “That wisdom is acquired, not by reading books, but of men.”

75. “The light of humane minds is perspicuous words, but by exact definitions first snuffed and purged from ambiguity, reason is the pace.”

76. “Metaphors and senseless ambiguous words are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities.”

77. “In the very of doubt a thread of reason begins by whose guidance we shall escape to the clearest light.”

78. “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.”

79. “Life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense.”

80. “The secret thoughts of a man run over all things—holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light—without shame or blame.”

81. “Silence is sometimes an argument of consent.”

82. “Every time reason stands against the human, the human will stand against the reason.”

83. “So that it is evident that whatever we believe, upon no other reason, then what is drawn from authority of men only, and their writings; whether they be sent from God or not, is faith in men onely.”

84. “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.”

85. “Idleness is torture.”

86. “For prudence is but experience, which equal time equally bestows on all men in those things they equally apply themselves unto.”

87. “The understanding is, by the flame of the passions never enlightened, but dazzled”.

88. “If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are.”

89. “And hence it comes to pass that it is a hard matter, and by many thought impossible to distinguish exactly between sense and dreaming.”

90. “For my part, when I consider that in dreams I do not often nor constantly think of the same persons, places, objects, and actions that I do waking; nor remember so long a train of coherent thoughts, dreaming, as at other times.”

91. “When a man has granted away his right, then is he said to be obliged or bound not to hinder those to whom such right is granted, or abandoned from the benefit of it; and that he ought and it is his duty, not to make void that voluntary act of his own.”

92. “The greatest objection is that of the practise. When men ask where and when, such power has by subjects been acknowledged.”

93. “When or where has there been a kingdom long free from sedition and civil war?”

94. “Philosophy excludes the doctrine of angels, and all such things as are thought to be neither bodies nor properties of bodies; there being in them no place for composition nor division, nor any capacity of more and less, that is to say, no place for ratiocination or computation.”

95. “Science is the knowledge of consequences and dependence of one fact upon another.”

96. “The world is governed by opinion.”

97. “Curiosity draws a man from consideration of the effect to seek the cause.”

98. “As soon as a thought darts, I write it down.”

99. “And where men build on false grounds, the more they build, the greater is the ruin.”

100. “For if all things were equally in all men, nothing would be prized.”

101. “The end of knowledge is power. The scope of all speculation is the performing of some action or thing to be done.”

102. “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 103. supernaturally.”

103. “The register of knowledge of fact is called history .”

104. “There is no such thing as perpetual tranquility of mind while we live here.”

105. “Appetite, with an opinion of attaining, is called hope; the same, without such opinion, despair.”

106. “I think, therefore matter is capable of thinking.”

107. “No Discourse whatsoever, can End in absolute Knowledge of Fact.”

108. “Opinion of ghosts, ignorance of second causes, devotion to what men fear, and talking of things casual for prognostics, consists of the natural seeds of religion.”

109. “It’s not the pace of life I mind. It’s the sudden stop at the end.”

110. “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?”

111. “The universe, the whole mass of things that are, is corporeal; that is to say, the body has 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.”

112. “Another doctrine repugnant to civil society, is that whatsoever a man does against his conscience, is sin; and it depended on the presumption of making himself judge of good and evil.”

113. “As long as this natural right of every man to everything endures, there can be no security to any man, how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time which nature ordinarily allows men to live.”

114. “‘True’ and ‘false’ are attributes of speech, not of things. And where speech is not, there is neither ‘truth’ nor ‘falsehood.’”

115. “Look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness of the good to follow.”

116. “As a draft-animal is yoked in a wagon, even so the spirit is yoked in this body.”

117. “And if this be madness in the multitude, it is the same in every particular man.”

118. “Nor can a man any more live, whose desires are at an end than he, whose senses and imaginations are at a stand.”

119. “Fact be virtuous, or vicious, as fortune pleases.”

120. “And because the constitution of a man’s body is in continual mutation, it is impossible that all the same things should always cause in him the same appetites and aversions; much less can all men consent in the desire of almost any one and the same object.”

121. “I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceases only in death.”

122. “The power of a man is his present means to obtain some future apparent good.”

123. “‘Where shall I turn, what shall I do,’ are the voices of people grieving.”

124. “Men are moved by appetites and aversions.”

125. “Everyone—those with moderate as well as those with immoderate desires—is necessarily pulled into a constant competitive struggle for power over others, or at least to resist his powers being commanded by others.”

126. “Every man shuns what is evil, but chiefly the chiefest of natural evils which is death; and this he does by a certain impulsion of nature, no less than that whereby a stone moves downward.”

127. “So the reasonable man, if he were in a state of nature, would see that he had to give up the right he would there have—the right to do or take anything and invade anybody—provided everyone else would do so at the same time.”

128. “The conscience is a thousand witnesses.”

129. “The utility of moral and political philosophy is to be estimated, not so much by the commodities we have been knowing these sciences, as by the calamities we receive by not knowing them.”

130. “Laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminence in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly.”

131. “The best men are the least suspicious of fraudulent purposes.”

132. “If nobody makes you do it, it counts as fun.”

133. “Nature itself cannot err.”

134. “Passions unguided are, for the most part, mere madness.”

135. “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.”

136. “For it is not the shape, but their use, that makes them angels.”

137. “To say God spoke or appeared as He is in His own nature, is to deny His infiniteness, invisibility, incomprehensibility.”

138. “Intemperance is naturally punished with diseases; rashness with mischance; injustice with violence of enemies; pride with ruin; cowardice with oppression; and rebellion with slaughter.”



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