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Leviathan: By Thomas Hobbes - Illustrated (Comes with a Free Audiobook)

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How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil—commonly referr How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil—commonly referred to as Leviathan—is a book written by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and published in 1651 (revised Latin edition 1668).[1][3] 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.[4] Leviathan ranks as a classic western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli's The Prince. Written during the English Civil War (1642–1651), Leviathan 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.


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How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil—commonly referr How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil—commonly referred to as Leviathan—is a book written by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and published in 1651 (revised Latin edition 1668).[1][3] 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.[4] Leviathan ranks as a classic western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli's The Prince. Written during the English Civil War (1642–1651), Leviathan 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.

30 review for Leviathan: By Thomas Hobbes - Illustrated (Comes with a Free Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charissa

    Not only did I disagree with Hobbes' conclusions, I find his assumptions (his arguments based entirely in Christian perspective) essentially worthless. The only value this tract served to me is to "know thy enemy". This is a classic example of mental circus tricks being used to justify the march of Christian dominance across the globe. I can't think of any written text that I despise more, except perhaps Mein Kempf. Hobbes is my least favorite philosopher. He embodies everything I despise in West Not only did I disagree with Hobbes' conclusions, I find his assumptions (his arguments based entirely in Christian perspective) essentially worthless. The only value this tract served to me is to "know thy enemy". This is a classic example of mental circus tricks being used to justify the march of Christian dominance across the globe. I can't think of any written text that I despise more, except perhaps Mein Kempf. Hobbes is my least favorite philosopher. He embodies everything I despise in Western thought. If I met Hobbes in the street I would flash him my tits and then slap him in the face and call him a pervert.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)

    Since some reviewers here seem to rate this work unfairly low because of their disagreements, ignoring both the importance of Leviathan and the basic power of the argument Hobbes forwards in it, I'll refer a couple of good, measured reviews with history and backdrop also found here- http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Originally I planned to adapt an essay I wrote at univers Since some reviewers here seem to rate this work unfairly low because of their disagreements, ignoring both the importance of Leviathan and the basic power of the argument Hobbes forwards in it, I'll refer a couple of good, measured reviews with history and backdrop also found here- http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Originally I planned to adapt an essay I wrote at university on Hobbes and Leviathan (with comparisons against Locke, Rousseau and others) to serve as a review, but it's rather unwieldy and a few of its less esoteric and elaborate points have been made very well and succinctly in some of the accounts above. Hobbes is the most influential figure in political thinking when it comes to what might broadly be called 'pessimistic philosophy' (contra Leibniz), and in this sense he makes an excellent, more formal and treatise-like accompaniment to the works of Voltaire (whose 'philosophical tales' especially are, beyond the characteristic wit on display, also immensely enjoyable; Kafka, and to certain more personal extent Beckett, are also commendable reads). He doesn't so much set out a modus operandi for a ruler as the Arthshastra or The Prince attempt to do, but tries to justify the power to be accorded a ruler, basically obliterating some of the more open concerns a statesman might have to tactically contend with in Machiavelli. But it may be that of all of Leviathan's contributions, the eponymous Leviathan in the sense of an absolute monarch is the superfluous part. Given its age, the language of Leviathan is remarkably clear and precise, emphatic as necessary and quite accessible. Hobbes sets out his arguments with almost mathematical proof-like care however, and the book may require patience. I had lecture notes to guide me through when I first read important selections, and perhaps something of that nature will be helpful. I more recently found it a fascinating exercise to study the thought of this 'school' (roughly speaking) in the context of modern evolutionary thinking as found in very accessible but also rigorous accounts like The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Of course, just as science with its empirical concerns does not prescribe but might inform efficient and effective methods for achieving an aim, the pessimists are not prescriptive- they simply caution in the way dystopia in fiction doesn't provide constructive commentary as utopia does, but serve (when done right, in the manner of Orwell for instance) as elaborate warning tales. It is wrong to think of them, especially Hobbes, as social Darwinists. There is willful misinterpretation on nearly every side of modern politics when it comes to philosophers like Hobbes so that arguments which come from the pedestrian self-help-esque philosophy of the likes of Ayn Rand or readings that miss the outré humour of de Sade can be cloaked in the appearance of erudition and thus made less incendiary when shamelessly carted out. This propensity is far from lessened by the argument in Leviathan for monarchy and the easy clamour citing this gains from those blinded and made to follow complacently by the very term 'democracy', whether true in fact or not. It is perfectly fair to say that Hobbes, with interests very relevant to him personally in his day, fails to give due consideration to other forms of governance than the one he advocates, but this shortcoming does not invalidate or at all detract from the conundrum he poses about trust within his 'state of nature', or the dangers of it. The situation is akin to the Prisoner's Dilemma from game theory and there is the question of what's rational for the society on the whole against what is rational for the individual at each decision. The implications from biology of trust-favouring behaviours and the evolutionarily stable equilibria which may come about through such strategies further elucidate our notions on the human condition when considered alongside the basic problem.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, is a book written by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and published in 1651 (revised Latin edition 1668). 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. Leviathan ranks as a classic Western work on statecraft comparable to Machia Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, is a book written by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and published in 1651 (revised Latin edition 1668). 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. Leviathan ranks as a classic Western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli's The Prince. Written during the English Civil War (1642–1651), Leviathan argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه آگوست سال 2001 میلادی عنوان: لویاتان؛ نویسنده: توماس هابز؛ مترجم: حسین بشیریه؛ تهران، نشر نی، 1380؛ در 572 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1381؛ چاپ چهارم 1385؛ چاپ ششم 1389؛ چاپ هفتم 1391؛ چاپ هشتم 1392؛ چاپ نهم 1393؛ در 576 ص؛ شابک: 9789643125578؛ موضوع: دولت از نویسندگان و فیلسوفان بریتانیایی - سده 17 میلادی لویاتان بزرگ‌ترین و نخستین اثر فلسفهه ی سیاسی، و اولین شرح جامع درباره ی «دولت مدرن»، و ویژگی‌ها و کارکردهای آن است. «هابز» در «لویاتان»، با بهره‌ برداری از تمثیل‌های ابزاروار، و اندام‌وار، دولت را همچون انسانی مصنوعی قلمداد می‌کنند، که ممکن است دچار انواع بیماری‌ها شود، و یکی از علایق اصلی «هابز» تشریح کالبد دولت، و بیماری‌های آن است. «هابز» همچنین، در تحلیل ماهیت قدرت، آن را همچون پدیده‌ های سیال، و فراگیر می‌دانند، که اساس کل زندگی اجتماعی را تشکیل می‌دهد، و حوزه‌ های مختلف زندگی، همچون: مالکیت اقتصادی، علم و دانش، اخلاق، قانون و حقوق و غیره، همگی در پرتو آن شکل می‌گیرند، و در حقیقت با آن هم‌ذات هستند. ا. شربیانی

  4. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Preface A Scheme of Reference Introduction A Note on the Text Select Bibliography Chronology --Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill Explanatory Notes Index of Subjects

  5. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Both the conclusions and methodology of "Leviathan" are shocking to the modern reader. Writing in the seventeenth century, Hobbes attacked medieval political philosophy and religion. However, unlike the enlightenment philosophers he did not base his arguments on the classical authors of Greece and Rome. Instead he made it clear that he considered them to be as much in the wrong as the medieval scholastics. Thus starting from zero, Hobbes then developed the doctrine that every nation or commonwea Both the conclusions and methodology of "Leviathan" are shocking to the modern reader. Writing in the seventeenth century, Hobbes attacked medieval political philosophy and religion. However, unlike the enlightenment philosophers he did not base his arguments on the classical authors of Greece and Rome. Instead he made it clear that he considered them to be as much in the wrong as the medieval scholastics. Thus starting from zero, Hobbes then developed the doctrine that every nation or commonwealth requires a undivided sovereign. To the contemporary reader, Hobbes seems to be arguing that we would all be best living in a totalitarian regime. In Hobbes view men are evil wishing by instinct to dominate and exploit their fellow men. Hence every commonwealth needs to be ruled by a strong sovereign to protect the members of the commonwealth from each other. The sovereign can be a single person, an aristocracy or a democracy. The single person system is best as it allows the most complete concentration of power. For Hobbes a king and a tyrant are the same thing. Thus the Greeks and Romans of the classical era were wrong to praise tyrannicide and condemn regicide. Both were equally wrong. The crime of the long parliament was not that it executed Charles I, the divinely chosen King of England, but that it killed the sovereign and ensured that civil war would resume in England. Cromwell's great virtue was that he ended the war and protected the English population. The supremet good for the commonwealth member is to support the sovereign. With the goal of demonstrating that the doctrine of the divine right of kings is nonsense, Hobbes devotes two of the four books of Leviathan to proving that religion is absurd. He fills pages referring to all the contradictions and absurdities in the Christian bible. He points out that there is no way to properly determine which texts belong in the bible and which do not. Even if one believes in God, one has to deal with the second problem which is that there is no way to prove the claims of any of those who claim to speak for God that they are indeed his representatives. Finally, Hobbes points out that the doctrine of the divine right of kings as defended by the Roman Catholic Church has no basis in scripture. Protestants, however, have little reason to be happy with Hobbes as he also demonstrates that many of their doctrines also lack basis in scripture. Despite his audacity and vigour, posterity has not been kind to Hobbes. Absolutism and totalitarianism are dirty words in today's society. The political thinkers of the eighteenth century returned to the classical theory proposed by many authors but most eloquently by Polybius that the ideal situation is for power in a state to be divided between a king, an aristocracy and a democratically elected assembly. The problem is of course that it is easier to argue against Hobbes than it is to fight totalitarianism's instinctive appeal. In times of crisis, people tend to support strong dictators like Franco, protectors like Cromwell or strong men like Putin.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    A Monster of a Book 12 Oct 2017 Woah, after three weeks I have finally managed to finish the behemoth of a book (which, ironically, Hobbes also wrote a book with that name) and I can now move onto something much lighter. Anyway, there was a time, when I was younger, when I was dreaming of one day getting married, having children, while becoming a hot shot lawyer (is it possible to actually do those two things) that I wanted to read this to my proposed child while he (or she) was still a baby. Min A Monster of a Book 12 Oct 2017 Woah, after three weeks I have finally managed to finish the behemoth of a book (which, ironically, Hobbes also wrote a book with that name) and I can now move onto something much lighter. Anyway, there was a time, when I was younger, when I was dreaming of one day getting married, having children, while becoming a hot shot lawyer (is it possible to actually do those two things) that I wanted to read this to my proposed child while he (or she) was still a baby. Mind you, I suggested this to one of my Christian friends, who proceeded to have a heart attack claiming that it was a humanist text similar to the writings of David Hume. Mind you, this particular person is now a lecturer in English Literature at Harvard University so I am still wondering why she was hugely shocked at this idea. Maybe it had something to do with wanting to read it to a baby. Anyway, this is apparently the book that laid the foundation for political science as we know it today, though I am sort of scratching my head at this suggestion. First of all people have been writing about politics since people first tossed out their unelected kings and began to argue as to the best way to run a country, Mind you, those particular people, such as Plato, pretty quickly came to the conclusion that letting the mob make the rules on a principle of popularity was a pretty bad idea so decided to go back to the drawing board to work out how they can have a system where smart people actually run the country. Mind you, as my Classics history lecturer once told us, the problem with that idea was that all of the smart people actually had much better things to do than running a country. Okay, maybe Plato, being a smart person, would have been perfect for that position, but he seemed to end up spending more time trying to teach rulers how to be a smart ruler, and failing abysmally. As it turned out, being a smart ruler isn't a particularly easy thing to do, and in the end it is much easier to collect taxes and then use the said taxes to build palaces and to go around beating up all the people you don't like. At least Machiavelli had the right idea. Hobbs seems to follow Plato's opinion, though he doesn't go as far as Machiavelli in actually telling rulers how to be successful rulers. Rather he spends the time exploring the nature of government, and instead of coming up with unworkable ideas, he basically looks at what is around him, and the traditions of the past, to come to the conclusion that the best form of government is a monarchical government based upon the principles of scripture. His theory is basically that because God is sovereign, and because God is the perfect ruler, then ergo the best form of government is that of a Christian king. However, as I have mentioned, the book is pretty chunky, and half of it deals with a theological exposition as to why the Bible supports monarchy. Well, not quite because he does come back to the point in the book of Samuel where the Israelites demand a king, and the main reason that happens is because the Israelites had decided that living under the constitution that God laid out was just that little too hard, and it seems that all of the nations around them were having a awful lot of fun, so why not just live like them. Well, for those of us who know their Bible know how that turned out. A little context is probably in order though. Hobbes wrote this book during the English Civil war, which was an incredibly messy affair. Basically you had the Catholic monarch on one side wanting to do things his way, and the protestant parliament on the other side basically telling him to bugger off and mind his own business. Things got messier, and messier, and it resulted in Charles basically having his head lopped off. Well, that didn't particularly solve anything because, much like the French revolution, it left a power vacuum. Well, not quite, because they did have Oliver Cormwell, but it turned out that they didn't have an effective succession plan in place, and in the end, when Cormwell died, his son took over, with the resultant mess that ended up with them asking the king to come back and take over. Hobbes' ideas probably won't sit well in our so called advanced Democracies these days, but then again look at who landed up as President of the United States – a Reality TV star. Okay, he wasn't the only actor to have been elected President, but at least Reagan was a tried and true union man (if you consider the Screen Actors Guild a union, but serious – it is). Mind you, we in Australia can't comment because we elected Tony Abbott – a misogynist that when asked what he felt about the LGBT community, the reply was 'they make me feel uncomfortable'. Actually, when asked to comment on an Australian soldier that was killed in Afghanistan, he reply was 'shit happens' (I kid you not). Well, at least you can say that that is the typical Australian response. Mind you, while I'm no big fan of totalitarianism, you have to admit that this whole democratic experiment, at least in the west, is pretty messed up. Well, not quite, because the Germans have seemed to have worked it out quite well, and seem to be chugging along quite happily. Even the British seem to have some reasonably level headed people in power (and whatever you think of Teresa May, at least she is nowhere near as bad as Tony Abbot, or the Trumpet for that matter). Yet, despite Hobbes not really being as applicable to our times, in a way he is. He was looking at a country that was in a complete mess and his solution was to go back to the tried and true method – a king – it certainly had to be better that people running around shooting each other. Maybe we could solve our problems by asking Angela Merkel to come over here and sort us out. Hey, at least the Norwegians made sure that the mining companies actually paid for all of the minerals they took out of their lands – over here we simply let them take them. If I were to walk into a shop and start helping myself to all of their goodies I'd be arrested. I guess that is what the matra of 'jobs, growth, and opportunity' gets you these days.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex MacMillan

    Hobbes’s Leviathan appears draconian to most Americans who ascribe to classical liberal values. Their rejection of his social contract coincides with an optimistic Lockean faith in the capabilities and moral fortitude necessary for negative liberties to survive. This naïveté in political legitimacy is analogous to the popularity of the New Testament compared to the Old because, while both texts share equal moral instruction, we fervently prefer a loving and forgiving God to a brutal taskmaster. Hobbes’s Leviathan appears draconian to most Americans who ascribe to classical liberal values. Their rejection of his social contract coincides with an optimistic Lockean faith in the capabilities and moral fortitude necessary for negative liberties to survive. This naïveté in political legitimacy is analogous to the popularity of the New Testament compared to the Old because, while both texts share equal moral instruction, we fervently prefer a loving and forgiving God to a brutal taskmaster. Hobbesian pessimism in human nature is a cold bucket of water tempering our enthusiastic assumption of a free polis because it demonstrates how democratic freedom is contingent upon the behavior everyone demonstrates. My political science professor’s ad hominem disparagement of Hobbes as paranoid and neurotic was troubling, given that Hobbes’s support for a Leviathan with absolute sovereignty remains a soberly empirical definition of power and fundamental governmental purpose. Fear of death is the primary motivation for our surrender to political authority. A government's legitimacy therefore necessitates the capacity for retributive action against internal and external threats. The power of the individual and group is relational to the behavioral impact they exact on others. Individual rights and liberties independent of government remain the exception, not the rule, of most persons throughout recorded history, past and present. How and why do the rights outlined by John Locke, that we often take for granted, exist at all? They depend on the internal morality of the individual who receives them, which themselves depend on Enlightenment values held dear by everyone around that person. I do not think that we are born blank slates in the state of nature, or cynically view moral sentiments as a vacuous social construct. Reading Hobbes’s brutal state and laws of nature, however, brought to mind the inculcations of parents, Sunday School instructors and Sesame Street screenwriters. Socrates’s description of a rational portion of our brain that holds back the appetitive beast within us, for example, is emblematic of an internal Leviathan each individual conscience tacitly consents to for a free society to be possible. The gradual shift in favorability towards democracy, from Socratic aversion to Jeffersonian approval based upon Locke, reflected the piecemeal formation of internal Leviathans that made democracy possible. Plato’s polemical attack in the Republic against democracy as an ideology suited for morally relativistic pigs made sense, given the amorality of those around him who ignored philosophic truth and diffidently sentenced Socrates to death. His opposition to democracy reflected the observable reality of Hobbes’s first law of nature, namely an avaricious Tony Montana attitude commonly held towards other individuals and groups at that time. Democracy only became a viable alternative to absolute sovereignty after the humble and prudential values diffused by the burgeoning bourgeoisie of Locke’s time attained widespread acceptance. If the hypothetical man of the state of nature is self-reliantly rational and reasonable rather than nasty and brutish, we can entrust him with freedom without risking our security from death. The American middle class is often derisively mocked at my University for the values its members hold dear. Their sexual abstention, proudly traditional religiosity, and lowly aspirations for a quiet life of monetary gain with a nuclear family strike many supposed “free spirits” as an archaic edifice to topple. The eternal Hobbesian preeminence of security within us, however, makes it wiser to consider the utilitarian importance of their self-restraint for the preservation of any freedom at all.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Though considered to be one of the most influential works of political thought, this manages to be both tedious and frightening – tedious because of Hobbes’s labored phrasing and protracted reasoning, and frightening because his conclusions have been put into play by stars like Stalin and Pol Pot. In brief, Hobbes argues for a strong central government headed by an absolute sovereign. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone liking Hobbes, as his take on social contract theory supports the theoretical gr Though considered to be one of the most influential works of political thought, this manages to be both tedious and frightening – tedious because of Hobbes’s labored phrasing and protracted reasoning, and frightening because his conclusions have been put into play by stars like Stalin and Pol Pot. In brief, Hobbes argues for a strong central government headed by an absolute sovereign. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone liking Hobbes, as his take on social contract theory supports the theoretical groundwork for constitutional monarchy instead of republicanism. But some of his other theories are a bit more intriguingly off. I’d love to have a dinner party with Hobbes and a couple of Romantic poets – maybe Wordsworth and Coleridge – and ask them what they thought of Hobbes’s assertion that imagination is “nothing but decaying sense” and is the same as memory. Maybe throw in Yeats as well! That would be even more entertaining than a soiree with Hobbes and Jefferson.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Thomas Hobbes discourse on civil and ecclesiatical governance, he analyses this in four parts, firstly via a discourse of man and the first principles of society; secondly he looks at the institution of a commonwealth and varying principles governing such, as here listed: "The sovereign has twelve principal rights: 1. because a successive covenant cannot override a prior one, the subjects cannot (lawfully) change the form of government. 2. because the covenant forming the commonwealth results fro Thomas Hobbes discourse on civil and ecclesiatical governance, he analyses this in four parts, firstly via a discourse of man and the first principles of society; secondly he looks at the institution of a commonwealth and varying principles governing such, as here listed: "The sovereign has twelve principal rights: 1. because a successive covenant cannot override a prior one, the subjects cannot (lawfully) change the form of government. 2. because the covenant forming the commonwealth results from subjects giving to the sovereign the right to act for them, the sovereign cannot possibly breach the covenant; and therefore the subjects can never argue to be freed from the covenant because of the actions of the sovereign. 3. the sovereign exists because the majority has consented to his rule; the minority have agreed to abide by this arrangement and must then assent to the sovereign's actions. 4. every subject is author of the acts of the sovereign: hence the sovereign cannot injure any of his subjects and cannot be accused of injustice. 5. the sovereign cannot justly be put to death by the subjects. 6. because the purpose of the commonwealth is peace, and the sovereign has the right to do whatever he thinks necessary for the preserving of peace and security and prevention of discord. Therefore, the sovereign may judge what opinions and doctrines are averse, who shall be allowed to speak to multitudes, and who shall examine the doctrines of all books before they are published. 7. to prescribe the rules of civil law and property. 8. to be judge in all cases. 9. to make war and peace as he sees fit and to command the army. 10. to choose counsellors, ministers, magistrates and officers. 11. to reward with riches and honour or to punish with corporal or pecuniary punishment or ignominy. 12. to establish laws about honour and a scale of worth. " (got this list from wikipedia but this is in chapter 18 of part one) The types of commonwealth are also considered; monarchy, aristocracy and democracy... so too succession, religion, taxation etc. etc. Thirdly, Hobbes considers a 'Christian commonwealth' and governance based on 'the scriptures', considering discrepancies between scriptural and civil law... Fourthy, the 'kingdom of darkness' is considered in reference to ignorance, and the absence of the light of knowledge. Leviathan was written during the English Civil War and Hobbes reiterates his views on sovereignity and social contract theory... Overall I think this was a rather interesting read and would recommend it to anyone who makes politics thier interest.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Leviathan is a major work of philosophy. Full stop. It's interesting to think that this book is the fundamental root of a lot of ultra-conservative brains. On some level, I can understand this. Hobbes defends the divine right of royal power (to a certain extent) and proceeds to define this power as absolute. Without question, subjects must bow to their masters, under any circumstances. In all this, however, he ultimately says that a monarch's power is granted him by his subjects, for without subj Leviathan is a major work of philosophy. Full stop. It's interesting to think that this book is the fundamental root of a lot of ultra-conservative brains. On some level, I can understand this. Hobbes defends the divine right of royal power (to a certain extent) and proceeds to define this power as absolute. Without question, subjects must bow to their masters, under any circumstances. In all this, however, he ultimately says that a monarch's power is granted him by his subjects, for without subjects a monarch is king of nothing, decrees cannot be carried out, etc. I don't remember the text of the book all that much. I read it mostly while on the bus to my job at Domino's Pizza a couple years ago. I suppose it comforted me to think that having to deal with my egomaniacal boss was a work of divine devotion, as opposed to an oppressive hell. The book did convince me of some truths that needed accepting at the time, that for all the brutality of my boss at work, he would ultimately fall, when his actions became tyrannical enough to convince his employees that he was not fit to rule. Which they did forthwith, and he was subsequently fired. So they told me. Another employee told me he went to work at the Domino's in Federal Way, some miles south of Seattle, which seems like a suitable enough punishment, if you feel like I do about Federal Way (i.e. why is it there? what good is it doing?) Leviathan changed my life. The old-timey language and syntax took some getting used to, but it's definitely worth a read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    Three essential hallmarks of the Hobbesian system are important: the war of each against all, the role of human rationality in ending this; the use of knowledge/science as a basis for societal engineering. His view of the state of nature--that time before government and the state existed--is unsurprising when one understands that he was born in the year of the erstwhile invasion by the Spanish Armada (1588) and lived through civil turmoil and revolution in England throughout his life. Hobbes beg Three essential hallmarks of the Hobbesian system are important: the war of each against all, the role of human rationality in ending this; the use of knowledge/science as a basis for societal engineering. His view of the state of nature--that time before government and the state existed--is unsurprising when one understands that he was born in the year of the erstwhile invasion by the Spanish Armada (1588) and lived through civil turmoil and revolution in England throughout his life. Hobbes begins with a view of human life that would be inconceivable to the Greeks--life in a state of nature, the time before government, laws, and the state existed. In this state, humans are equal. In terms of physical prowess, of course, some are stronger than others. However, the weakest, through guile, can still kill the strongest. In that sense, there is equality. Without the power of government to keep people in check, though, we find quarrels routinely breaking out. The motives are threefold: self-gain, safety, and reputation (or glory). The result is horrible, and here follows perhaps the single most well known statement penned by Hobbes: "Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in a condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, 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 Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; 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 feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." However, the fear and terror of the state of nature can be escaped. Humans are, after all, according to Hobbes, capable of reason. Individual reason leads people to realize that they must do something to escape ". . .Feare of Death; Desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a Hope by their Industry to obtain them." Furthermore, human reason allows individuals to understand laws of nature. This is defined by Hobbes as ". . .a Precept, or general Rule, found out by Reason, by which a man is forbidden to do, that, which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same." To preserve life, and the fruits of industry that might be gained by peace, human reason lets people realize that only by giving up some of their freedoms, liberties, rights in order to establish a system that will end perpetual war of each against all. The mechanism for this is the "social contract," by which people in the state of nature covenant with one another to form a powerful government, so powerful that it can suppress individuals' efforts to seek self-advantage as under the state of nature. A "Leviathan" is needed. However, if the state ceases to protect people's lives, the contract can be voided; revolution is an acceptable option for the citizenry then. However, the price is terrible, for with the dissolution of the state, people are plunged back into the nightmare of the state of nature. They would have to re-enact a contract to escape the ravages of the perpetual war. Key points in Hobbes: the focus is on the individual rather than society, hence this is an individualistic system; human reason is considered to be central to attaining peace and harmony; humans can perceive the essence of natural laws through the powers of their reason; by contracting with one another, the people can control their destinies and produce an environment which they find more commodious for living fruitfully. An important early work in the development of Modern thinking and liberal political thought. A must read work for those interested in Western political philosophy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    For the most part, I admire Hobbes even if I disagree with half of what he's saying. The first part of this book appeals to me mostly because both of us acknowledge the inherent shortcomings of human kind. While I can't really deny that there is a "mutual relationship between protection and obedience", I'm my view there is a limit to it. The social contract should not be respected by the populus without complaint or demand. What is needed is a democracy not a tyranny. For the most part, I think i For the most part, I admire Hobbes even if I disagree with half of what he's saying. The first part of this book appeals to me mostly because both of us acknowledge the inherent shortcomings of human kind. While I can't really deny that there is a "mutual relationship between protection and obedience", I'm my view there is a limit to it. The social contract should not be respected by the populus without complaint or demand. What is needed is a democracy not a tyranny. For the most part, I think it's easy to ignore Hobbes since we live in a fairly stable democracy, but that's the wrong attitude to take. Because when a revolution or a radical attempt at change goes wrong, you can't say Hobbes didn't warn you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    3.5 stars. I read this when I was in college during a political science course. I remember thinking it was a good source of discussion/debate in class. I plan to re-read this in the near future and will give a more detailed review at that time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    Read for class.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mel Vincent

    This is truly the greatest written political work of all time. It meticulously dissects the areas of the political body and mind, the Leviathan itself, and it also deals with the fundamental properties that enable that political body to work such as human reason, ideology, government and also religion. Every question that I have conceived within the confines of my mind, this book has answered it perfectly and efficiently. It is amazing how Thomas Hobbes has argued, analyzed and even criticized th This is truly the greatest written political work of all time. It meticulously dissects the areas of the political body and mind, the Leviathan itself, and it also deals with the fundamental properties that enable that political body to work such as human reason, ideology, government and also religion. Every question that I have conceived within the confines of my mind, this book has answered it perfectly and efficiently. It is amazing how Thomas Hobbes has argued, analyzed and even criticized the past from the Indian, Persian, Egyptian and Greek philosophers to Islamic, Christian and European philosophers. He also distinguishes the factors that lead a nation from peace and stability to chaos and civil war. He then explains the necessities of religion and its fallacies and consequences in the political and national aspect. This book clearly expresses the need of a proper political system that not only governs the masses but also ensures peace and order for the entire country as well, ergo the Leviathan.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    hobbes' theory is a misanthropic, elitist vision that humans are basically corrupt, evil and stupid, and must be lead by a far-sighted guardian or "leviathan" which enforces private property relations and prevents people from following their "evil impulses." yikes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    J.M.

    Not the best book I've ever chosen to read while in the bathroom, but it's not like I would have read it any other way. It's interesting purely as a historical document, as it followed the English civil war and speaks out, basically, for commonsense civility and peace-through-strength. A lot of it is just sensible argumentation, and I especially admired Hobbes' refusal to credit ancient sources merely because they're ancient. His defense of this, presented in the conclusion, is essentially: "Yea Not the best book I've ever chosen to read while in the bathroom, but it's not like I would have read it any other way. It's interesting purely as a historical document, as it followed the English civil war and speaks out, basically, for commonsense civility and peace-through-strength. A lot of it is just sensible argumentation, and I especially admired Hobbes' refusal to credit ancient sources merely because they're ancient. His defense of this, presented in the conclusion, is essentially: "Yeah, they're old. I'm old too. Big deal." He also points out that, strictly speaking, no time is as old as the present. What I couldn't buy-- naturally, from an American perspective-- was his argument that no sovereign can be subject to any laws. He makes them, so he doesn't have to follow them. You lost me there, Hobbesy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Muath Aziz

    Read this review first if you haven't read the book yet: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... #Of Man#: No free will, no soul, we are just machines just like a ball on a slope, it falls down expectedly (it can't Will not to go down). Imagination is just Memory; decaying Senses that propagate inside our heads. #Of Common-Wealths#: Read above-mentioned review. ----- #Of A Christian Common-Wealth#: Now he links what he said in Of Man (the world and us are mechanical, no Metaphysics nor Ghosts etc) Read this review first if you haven't read the book yet: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... #Of Man#: No free will, no soul, we are just machines just like a ball on a slope, it falls down expectedly (it can't Will not to go down). Imagination is just Memory; decaying Senses that propagate inside our heads. #Of Common-Wealths#: Read above-mentioned review. ----- #Of A Christian Common-Wealth#: Now he links what he said in Of Man (the world and us are mechanical, no Metaphysics nor Ghosts etc) and what he said in Of Common-Wealths (submit yourself to the Sovereign and Obey him) with Christianity and that what he said is consistent with it. As for linking with Of Man, his interpretation of Religion as a civil thing and not an "organized/institutionalized religion" is very interesting and consistent! Everything is mechanical/not-metaphysical. No Heaven and Hell, no Demons, no Angels (actually in new testament there are eternal creatures so called Angels but in the old testament Angel simply means God's action, he claims). But there is sorta soul and free will (it seems he means it here metaphorically, as in Church is like a living man), pp497 after his interpretation of church as Civil Council he says "And in this last sense only it is that the Church can be taken for one Person [Sovereign]; that is to say, that it can be said to have power to will, to pronounce, to command, to be obeyed, to make laws..." Jesus' second coming means he will be this Ruler, the Ruler of God's Kingdom, a kingdom literally! Heaven is God's Kingdom. The citizens of this state are called Christians. The Bible (according to Hobbes) says sinners die for eternity and they go to Hell for eternity (biologically everyone dies for eternity, there is no metaphysical Soul that lives forever). Hell is underground, as in the grave is Hell that people who died (for eternity) go to. Hell as fire for sinners is just what the Jews used to do, they had a big fire that they kept feeding with wood and was never put out, they used to burn Idolaters (Traitor to God's Kingdom, as in Traitors to the Common-Wealth) with this "Hell". All of this interpretation is backed up with references to the Bible and actually makes sense, if you believed in Hobbes' mechanical view of the World. As of linking with Of Common-Wealths, "submit yourself to the Sovereign and Obey him" is what the Bible says about following prophets. So for after-Protestant-Movement England (Hobbes was a Royalist, supported the King who established a separate Church [Church in the traditional sense]), this justifies getting rid of Pope of Rome, since England is an independent Common-Wealth, as in an independent Church [Church in Hobbes sense]. It's dangerous to have more than one Sovereign, and to have Churches [in the traditional/spiritual sense] leads to having a Civil Sovereign (the King) and a Spiritual Sovereign (the Pope), as in not-a-sole-power, which leads to wars as he shows in Of Common-Wealth. Now people who were governed by Abraham and Moses had these prophets as Civil-Sovereigns, who took Civil-Laws directly from God, thus these citizens are required to follow the scriptures (the Common-Wealth constitution written by God through prophets) since the scriptures were what these Sovereigns wrote as Civil-Law. Moses and many other prophets were both Spiritual and Civil Leaders/Sovereigns. As for citizens who live under Sovereigns that God don't speak to, they are ought to follow the Sovereign's Civil-Law whatever they are (even if they are inconsistent with the Bible), as justified in On Common-Wealth (Covenant/Social-Contract). Scriptures are to be strictly followed only when the Sovereign Canonize them (even then, the Sovereign is the one ought to interpret the Scriptures as he likes), Hobbbes gives an example of Canonized Scripture by the English King. When Jesus descends once again and becomes a Sovereign of some Common-Wealth, citizens are ought to follow him just like any other Sovereign (since Jesus is God, his Civil-Law/State-Constitution will be a new Bible too lol). So my question is, are all people required to follow a prophet of God once they witness his Miracles? I'll try to link things together: as he showed in Of Man, that when you Believe in what someone is saying, it means that your Opinion of what he says is that it is true. As he says in Of Christian Common-Wealth, when someone claims he is a Prophet, only the Sovereign is allowed to Believe in him or not, as in approving his word as Law. If he did, then all citizens are ought to follow the Sovereign in his belief. They are not allowed to follow the prophet falsified by the Sovereign, justified by the power of the Covenant. If, as in the case of Moses, people were in a State of Nature (there was no Sovereign) they believed in Moses and made a Contract/Covenant to assign him as a Sovereign. But it's more complicated than that, Check Religion Tolerance below I wonder if God sent a Prophet again and he had a Common-Wealth of his own, does Hobbes think people who are already under a Sovereign are required to follow him? It seems not (as I think, to be consistent with what Hobbes already said), by the power of Covenant (as shown in Of Man and Of Common-Wealths). So I think for Hobbes, Laws of Nature > Prophet (he explicitly says that Bible explicitly shows Jesus asking his followers to continue obeying their Infidel Sovereigns). He claims Laws of Nature come from God, thus it is God who is telling us not to follow the Prophet if we already gave our Natural Rights to a Sovereign (follow him Spiritually but not Civilly). To put it simply, you are not allowed to follow (Civilly) neither a Prophet or Jesus if you already have a Sovereign, because Prophets and Jesus are not your Sovereign, unless your own Sovereign approves (Sovereigns can do that, as in surrendering to another Sovereign) of them and make Covenant with them (remember that a Sovereign, as shown in Of Common-Wealths, still has his Natural Rights because the Covenant is made between the subjects and themselves and not between the subjects and the to-be-Sovereign). This is consistent with Moses (after he was made a Sovereign by the Jews) making a Contract with God. So why Hobbes explicitly expresses his belief in Christianity? Because, as he said many times, that his Sovereign (England King) believes in Christianity and approves it. To be more precise, he is saying he believes in his Sovereign interpretation of Christianity (England King says do not listen to Pope of Rome for example). So does this make a reciprocal contradiction, that Hobbes follows Christianity because of his Sovereign but then he follows his Sovereign because of Christianity's "submit yourself to the Sovereign and Obey him"? Of course not! Remember that Hobbes justified "submit yourself to the Sovereign and Obey him" in Of Common-Wealth philosophically then afterwards he mentioned Christianity just to show that what he is saying is consistent with it (that it is consistent with what his Sovereign believes). Technically, Hobbes system will fall down only when the Sovereign believed in another Religion (or just simply made a new Law) that says "do not submit yourself to the Sovereign nor Obey him". Or to make an extreme example (since the Sovereign has the power to interpret the Religion): When the Sovereign explicitly says "you are allowed to follow more than one Sovereign", Hobbes system will have logical contradiction (A=B and only B, A=B&C --> logical contradiction!), this is fun lol. In conclusion, the Religion vs Common-Wealth (Civil/Politics) duality is dangerous. Secularism mutes Religion in Politics (takes it out of Politics and makes it a personal choice). Hobbes solution is to show that Religion = Common-Wealth (God's Kingdom = Israel) thus we no longer have the duality. No wonder they say Enlightenment came from the proper understanding of Christianity. Also, his claim that Man'a Nature is Evil and not Civil (rules of the jungle, Laws of Nature), when Men come together and decide to make a Society, I claim that this assures Personal Rights for individuals. Aristotle claims Man's Nature is Civil, thus being born into a Society is the norm, which leads to not-assuring Personal Rights of Property etc. Hobbes harsh claim in fact opened the door for Human Social Contracts, as in: "hey, you want me to agree to live in your society? Give me individual rights!" ----- Religion Tolerance: Hobbes is saying that St. Paul is saying that man ought to obey his Sovereign even if he was infidel, man ought not to obey non-Sovereign Minsters of Christ. Ministers of Christ have no power to punish sinner or non-believers. But then, what if Sovereign bans Christian Belief? Hobbes said many times in earlier part and in this one that it doesn't make sense, a Man can believe internally in something but express externally something else. Sovereign has the right to decide what Religion is taught in schools and universities, he has the right to interpret Scriptures, he has the right to allow public worship of a Religion (or to be Tolerable to all Religions). But personal belief is technically protected, says Hobbes: You can't force what is in someone's heart. You can't open a Church if Sovereign says no, but you can pray in your home! So how to be consistent in obeying both God and (infidel) Sovereign? Hobbes (and Martin Luther) says Salvation requires only the belief that Jesus is Christ. So, whatever the Sovereign tells you to do, it can't be inconsistent with Christianity's Salvation, you don't need no Priest to confess your Sins to. ----- #Of The Kingdom Of Darkness#: Hobbes gave his own Interpretation of the Bible that is so Materialist. He justified his right of Interpreting the Bible. He shows how false the Catholic Interpretation is. He then in this part shows from where this corrupt Interpretation comes from (from Converted Pagans, the same view of Catholicism is held by Muslims). He also heavily attacks Aristotle Philosophy and Christian Universities for following it without understanding it (even if they understood it fully, it's still full of Shit). "[Metaphysics] Books written, or placed after [Aristotle] Natural Philosophy: But the Schools take them for Books of supernatural Philosophy: for the word Metaphysics will bear both these senses. And indeed that which is there written, is for the most part so far from the possibility of being understood, and so repugnant to any thing to be understood by it, must needs think it supernatural" ----- Some non-Politics points: We can't think without Language. From where did we get Language? God taught Adam all names. Philosophy is Reasoning. It should be done Logically/Geometrically. It's ok to Reason about Effects of Cause, and the other way around, Causes of Effect (Deduction/Analytical vs Induction/Syntactical, I think). Though "Geometrical" is the way Hobbes is following in this book, he used to support Empiricism (he likes Bacon and translated his works). But does Geometrism and Empiricism are necessarily mutual exclusive? I don't think so, Geometrism means to be precise with word definitions and to list your axioms then build only on them and to be Logical all the way (no Sophism), I think this is consistent even with Induction (stating your test data as your axiom then building on them). Remember he is supporting both Cause-to-Effect and Effect-to-Cause (unlike Rationalist Descartes who supports only Deduction/Cause-to-Effect, he even explicitly criticized Galileo's empirical Induction Effect-to-Cause work, Descartes too heartily supports Geometrism but only in the narrow sense). So Hobbes says we can't Think/Reason without Language and that in Philosophy we need to be precise with our words' meaning, two points shared with Analytical Philosophy (from my 5-min research about it) which makes me even more eager to read their books. I wonder how Hobbes and Analytical Philosophy are close. "In the power of making Laws, is comprehend also the power of Explaining them when there is need", Montesquieu says otherwise with his Three Branches of Government Theory (USA Congress makes Laws but the Supreme Court is the one who Explains and Interpret the Law).

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    Enter my crude understanding: This very well may be the most difficult to understand book I have ever read, thanks in part to antiquated language, not having read Hobbes’ prior work, upon which a large portion of Leviathan is based, and a general bafflement at the immense explanation of terms and Hobbes’ immense, IMMENSE, dense, and convoluted use of theology and the Bible to attempt to rationalize (or, in the precise language of the book, ratiocinate) his view of sovereign power as being of high Enter my crude understanding: This very well may be the most difficult to understand book I have ever read, thanks in part to antiquated language, not having read Hobbes’ prior work, upon which a large portion of Leviathan is based, and a general bafflement at the immense explanation of terms and Hobbes’ immense, IMMENSE, dense, and convoluted use of theology and the Bible to attempt to rationalize (or, in the precise language of the book, ratiocinate) his view of sovereign power as being of higher authority than the divine. Hobbes is of the opinion that, in his mind, since the Kingdom of God is yet to come, we are bound by the laws of a (divinely appointed?) sovereign, using an extensively drawn out view that Moses was the first ‘civil sovereign.’ Even if the Sovereign is unjust, or forces one to renounce God, it doesn’t really matter (AND the Sovereign, being sovereign, is NEVER unjust), because as Hobbes points out time and time again, slaves are to be obedient to their masters and subjects to their sovereign. God will sort it out in the end, as He can see into the hearts of men. Hobbes despises ecclesiastical power, and in particular, the Roman Catholic Church. Given the time period and the way the church exerted power at the time, I can hardly blame him. Ironically, this causes him to argue in favor of the idea of the absolute power of the Sovereign and the separation of Church and State power, as he has seen the abuse of the Church’s power firsthand (and unsurprisingly branded a heretic). I guess one of the fathers of secularism and western enlightenment just couldn’t get a break :) I’m glad I read it, but I wouldn’t really recommend it for light reading. My interest lay into the relationship between the drafting of the United States constitution and the work of Thomas Hobbes. I can certainly see many direct sources of inspiration in the first half of the book. I can only imagine the horror some might experience if they knew that Hobbes’ self-interested and materialist commonwealth was thoroughly secular in nature. Finally, if you really want a better chance of understanding Leviathan, make sure to read Hobbes’ prior work, because you will be expected to be intimately familiar with it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anima

    “When a body is once in motion, it moveth (unless something else hinder it) eternally; and whatsoever hindreth it, cannot in an instant, but in time and by degrees, quite extinguish it. And as we see in the water, though the wind cease, the waves give not over rolling for a long time after, so also it happeneth in that motion which is made in the internal parts of a man, then when he sees, dreams, &c. For after the object is removed, or the eye shut, we still retain an image of the thing see “When a body is once in motion, it moveth (unless something else hinder it) eternally; and whatsoever hindreth it, cannot in an instant, but in time and by degrees, quite extinguish it. And as we see in the water, though the wind cease, the waves give not over rolling for a long time after, so also it happeneth in that motion which is made in the internal parts of a man, then when he sees, dreams, &c. For after the object is removed, or the eye shut, we still retain an image of the thing seen, though more obscure than when we see it. And this is it, the Latins call imagination, from the image made in seeing, and apply the same, though improperly, to all the other senses. But the Greeks call it fancy, which signifies appearance, and is as proper to one sense as to another. IMAGI - NATION therefore is nothing but decaying sense, and is found in men and many other living creatures, as well sleeping as waking.” “To this war of every man against every man, this also is 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 two cardinal virtues. Justice and injustice are none of the faculties neither of the body nor mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his senses and passions. They are qualities that relate to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man’s that he can get, and for so long as he can keep it. And thus much for the ill condition which man by mere nature is actually placed in; though with a possibility to come out of it, consisting partly in the passions, partly in his reason. The passions that incline men to peace are: fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace upon which men may be drawn to agreement. These articles are they which otherwise are called the laws of nature, whereof I shall speak more particularly in the two following chapters.”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    The Open Syllabus Project, the systematic study of over one million college syllabi ranks this book as the seventh most popular book cited by syllabi. After having listened to this book I know exactly why. The Age of Enlightenment starts with this book. It's clear that the project of the Enlightenment was the dialectic of answering the pessimism of Hobbes with the optimism of John Locke. They might not have had to agree with Hobbes, but they had to respond to him. Hobbes is very subtle in some of The Open Syllabus Project, the systematic study of over one million college syllabi ranks this book as the seventh most popular book cited by syllabi. After having listened to this book I know exactly why. The Age of Enlightenment starts with this book. It's clear that the project of the Enlightenment was the dialectic of answering the pessimism of Hobbes with the optimism of John Locke. They might not have had to agree with Hobbes, but they had to respond to him. Hobbes is very subtle in some of his arguments. The time period still believes in witches and superstition, and beliefs based on authority. Hobbes does not. The strength of Hobbes arguments is he understands what knowledge is, what absolute knowledge means, and how misleading 'belief in' and 'faith' are as foundations for understanding and explaining. Hobbes has an advanced way of putting the nature of knowledge on a firm foundation. Chronologically Hobbes comes after Bacon and Galileo but before Newton, and is laying a foundation for Newton to think of knowledge as Universal, Necessary and Certain for explaining and understanding the natural world. (Newton with his laws of gravity will see the world in those terms as will Kant, but Heidegger and Kuhn much later will show how knowledge is best thought of as particular, contingent and probable). Hobbes is also not very subtle in some of his arguments. He is an absolute authoritarian when it comes to the power vested in the sovereign. I realize now why Richard Nixon in the David Frost interviews argued that the chief executive could not possibly break the law and why some would think the Nuremberg defense was reasonable (Hobbes would defend both). Even in all his muddle arguments sometimes real gems of wisdom pop out. For example, no man can be trusted when his job is on the line, or those who are influential and widely known are more responsible for inciting violence than those who are unknown. There are two things I know with certainty: 1) everyone should listen to (or read) this book, 2) nobody should listen to the third chapter of this book (probably 8 hours long), the one on the commonwealth of the church. The third chapter had way too many bible verses and I would say that the Enlightenment ignored that chapter for the most part with one exception. I had just recently read the "Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine, and it is obvious to me that in his first edition of the book he took Hobbes chapter three and used that to show why the bible was not holy and he also directly restates Hobbes points about how revelation from God most always be second hand to everyone but the person who speaks directly to God. An aside, it seemed obvious to me that Hobbes was an atheist (or deist), but he never would be explicit about it. Though, in that dreaded third chapter (please skip it if you can!) he is really interested in showing why the "papist' have less authority than the Church of England. I really can't understate the obvious importance that this book has in the jump starting of the Age of Enlightenment. The book itself can be dry (and it is dryly read), but sprinkled through out the book are real pearls of wisdom. This book deserves to be the seventh most cited book on college syllabi. My only hesitation in recommending this book is the 3rd chapter with its endless bible citations. Don't skip the fourth chapter. There is a real elegant refutation against Aristotelian thought and the danger of appealing to authority over reason. After all, the Age of Enlightenment is most readily described by rejecting authority as your primary source for knowledge and appealing to reason instead.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    It's not hard to see why this is considered so important. He goes one step beyond Machiavelli and just totally blows apart the last remaining shreds of virtue-derived political praxis. Politics no longer has anything to do with the idea of 'the good,' what we have now is a secular system in which we consent to have rulers to protect our own interests, however noble or terrible they may be, because without that framework we'd just live like animals, fighting absolutely everything else in the worl It's not hard to see why this is considered so important. He goes one step beyond Machiavelli and just totally blows apart the last remaining shreds of virtue-derived political praxis. Politics no longer has anything to do with the idea of 'the good,' what we have now is a secular system in which we consent to have rulers to protect our own interests, however noble or terrible they may be, because without that framework we'd just live like animals, fighting absolutely everything else in the world for resources. Sure, it's pessimistic, if you had lived through a civil war in which 1/10 of your countrymen had been killed, how positive would you have been? Some of it's a bit creepy, like his notion that you can't legitimately criticize the sovereign, etc. The biggest obstacle to this is his writing style. This has to be one of the driest texts of any kind I've come across. He exhaustively clarifies absolutely every assertion, and usually offers some kind of addendum for each clarification. If you think Aquinas and Aristotle are too sloppy, this is probably to your liking. Personally, I found it hard to stay awake for large tracts of it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    From the original Latin: "But when I think of how many there are to whose designs it will be advantageous that these principles should be false, when I see that those who maintain contrary doctrines are not corrected, even though they have been punished by a civil war, when I see that the best minds are nourished by the seditious doctrines of the ancient Greeks and Romans, I fear that this writing of mine will be numbered with Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, Bacon's New Atlantis, and similar am From the original Latin: "But when I think of how many there are to whose designs it will be advantageous that these principles should be false, when I see that those who maintain contrary doctrines are not corrected, even though they have been punished by a civil war, when I see that the best minds are nourished by the seditious doctrines of the ancient Greeks and Romans, I fear that this writing of mine will be numbered with Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, Bacon's New Atlantis, and similar amusements of the mind." LMAO

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nahed.E

    One of the most important books in the history of philosophy , Every one study the modern philosophy must read it , Because of the most important points of Hobbes's philosophy in this book .

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    The book was not nearly as good as my college professor made it out to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    [update 10/23/13: after having to re-read this thing for another class I have a little more appreciation for it but I would do well not having to read it for another 10 years.] Bellum omnium contra omnes Another book from philosophy class. I have trouble remembering whether this book or the Critique of Pure Reason frustrated the class more. This was a very "interesting" book to read. I think when people call Plato's Republic fascist they are thinking more of this text which took all the controver [update 10/23/13: after having to re-read this thing for another class I have a little more appreciation for it but I would do well not having to read it for another 10 years.] Bellum omnium contra omnes Another book from philosophy class. I have trouble remembering whether this book or the Critique of Pure Reason frustrated the class more. This was a very "interesting" book to read. I think when people call Plato's Republic fascist they are thinking more of this text which took all the controversial parts of Plato's political philosophy-cranked it up to 11-and made a fully sophisticated treatise out of it. I thought for a long time that Hobbes was mad but when I read Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty in which I learned about the politics behind the English Civil War (when this was written) this book made more sense. I still think it is extremist but it makes sense in context. The point of this book is to convince you that people, while being free in the state of nature were base, stupid and untrustworthy and needed to be ruled under a social contract that saw the freedoms and rights of the people strongly put in a strong central figure or small group that Hobbs called the sovereign(specifically the House of Stuart as far as he is concerned). This was the only way to avoid a state of total chaos or that Latin phrase at the top of this review. He felt that the population-at-large was to uncivilized and tied to there individual base desires to properly rule themselves and so there needed to be a sovereign that had complete power over the entire state to do this task for them. Men in nature start out free and easy. Tom says that since men desire peace above all things (the first law of nature) they are to be willing to relinquish is right to have everything and "be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself. For as long as every man holdeth this right, of doing anything he liketh; so long are all men in the condition of war. But if other men will not lay down their right, as well as he, then there is no reason for anyone to divest himself of his: for that were to expose himself to prey, which no man is bound to, rather than to dispose himself to peace. This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them. And that law of all men, quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris." I could give you endless examples but that is the basic point; a strong authoritarian government is the best way to protect and hold society together. I think a good modern example of this working successfully (or at least the most successful example) is the People's Republic of China. That government fits the qualities of Hobbs' Leviathan down to a "t". It makes sense since Confucius had proposed a similar style of the Leviathan government years before Thomas Hobbs was born though I'm not aware if Hobbs used Confucius for reference since most of his near influence came from his mentor and patron Francis Bacon who played a big role in the lead up to the English Civil War. But I think Communist China's...communist party has done a good job getting Hobbs' political philosophy mastered thoroughly. I would check this book out to compare it to books like Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics as well as The Prince which it is compared with and if you are interested in political philosophy in general check this book out. I read this as a part of Classics of Western Philosophy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Briana

    I am AFRAID. VERY AFRAID. ...and I haven't even opened the cover yet... Leviathan shall devour me alive... *EDIT* For some reason, even though Second Treatise of Government is about a million times skinnier than Leviathan and its very name is less imposing, I'm having an easier time with Leviathan. Yes, Hobbes, I do understand that people can have "stream of consciousness" thoughts. NO, I DO NOT NEED YOU TO GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE!! 17th century vocabulary is so fun to decipher. Hobbes keeps calling the I am AFRAID. VERY AFRAID. ...and I haven't even opened the cover yet... Leviathan shall devour me alive... *EDIT* For some reason, even though Second Treatise of Government is about a million times skinnier than Leviathan and its very name is less imposing, I'm having an easier time with Leviathan. Yes, Hobbes, I do understand that people can have "stream of consciousness" thoughts. NO, I DO NOT NEED YOU TO GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE!! 17th century vocabulary is so fun to decipher. Hobbes keeps calling the Israelites "peculiar people". I finally figured out that he meant "set apart" and not "weird"! *EDIT* I lied. Mr. Locke, I apologize. You are FAR, FAR easier to understand than Mr. Hobbes... See, I ran into a few pages where Hobbes began to define things in very, very simple sentences, like "Anger is caused by that to which man has an aversion"...and I thought, "Wow, how easy can this get?! Hobbes is throwing out definitions left and right! I'll be able to understand EVERYTHING!" Um. No. Know why? Hobbes defines EVERYTHING. He was born to be a dictionary. Appetite, aversion, courage, hatred, love, fear, greed...lots of nice, neat "this=that" sentences. What Hobbes DOESN'T do is connect everything into nice, neat arguments. So after about 50 pages, I pulled myself out of the stomach of Leviathan and thought, "...I still have no idea what Hobbes is arguing for." It's sort of like watching a movie that has a really long setup...you just keep waiting and waiting for something important to happen...and by the time it DOES, you're already way too lost to enjoy yourself... And you know what *really* makes this book harder than Second Treatise of Government? I don't think I agree with it...but I'm not sure. This was for school, and thankfully, I don't have to read this entire monster of a book. My wonderful sister Brittany helped me understand this. *EDIT* My wonderful sister Brittany has a habit of stretching the truth. And of going on my GoodReads account. FOR SHAME. O young one, do not set thyself against One who is Better Versed in Internet Access than thou.

  28. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Ibrahim ♥

    Isn't this the guy who held to the belief that I am a wolf to my fellow human brother? He is my brother! We were made to live in harmony, but as I read this I can't help but get poisoned by the teaching that Homo hominy lupus, i.e. "Man is wolf to man.". Such teaching will make me nothing but a paranoid and bitter person. I am called to live in perfect harmony with every living being in the universe. But Thomas Hobbes says: "To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a k Isn't this the guy who held to the belief that I am a wolf to my fellow human brother? He is my brother! We were made to live in harmony, but as I read this I can't help but get poisoned by the teaching that Homo hominy lupus, i.e. "Man is wolf to man.". Such teaching will make me nothing but a paranoid and bitter person. I am called to live in perfect harmony with every living being in the universe. But Thomas Hobbes says: "To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities." Yawn, yawn, yawn, and what a torture to read this! And what gall and poison it is to soak in me and interiorize!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Falk

    Hobbes's concept of the state and of sovereignty has been so influential that he can easily be called the Godfather of modern politics. (As could Machiavelli, with a slight twist of the meaning of the term.) This is also in that the absolute virtues (being also Hobbesian laws of nature) of peace and life (self-preservation to the degree of being totally risk-averse) of the Hobbesian bourgeoisie are so predominant in Western society today, that for a majority (possibly) of Westerners it is close Hobbes's concept of the state and of sovereignty has been so influential that he can easily be called the Godfather of modern politics. (As could Machiavelli, with a slight twist of the meaning of the term.) This is also in that the absolute virtues (being also Hobbesian laws of nature) of peace and life (self-preservation to the degree of being totally risk-averse) of the Hobbesian bourgeoisie are so predominant in Western society today, that for a majority (possibly) of Westerners it is close to impossible to understand the thumos (spiritedness) that still has a prevalence within other cultures (and which in public discourse is often described as "barbarian".) - While Hobbes may be scathingly critical of contemporary Christian "loftiness" (not the least what regards the papacy and Catholicism), and endeavors to restrict all philosophical inquiry to the natural world, the sovereign power he sets forth is nevertheless biblically based (in this regard Hobbes is referring strictly to kingship). It can certainly be discussed whether his aim was to somehow reconcile science and religion, or simply adapt the latter to the former while avoiding accusations of heresy and atheism. - Though however materialist Hobbes's scriptural interpretation may be, of the four parts that the book is divided into, the third, on the "Christian Commonwealth" is by far the longest of them, though he also rails against ideas like "incorporeal substance" and "immortality of the soul", and includes a highly original version of the Trinity - an intriguingly heterodox blend in other words. - But perhaps it is more accurate to say that his view on religion (in statecraft) is realist, in the meaning that religion is a realm of life that any sovereign has to deal with decisively. This means that the sovereign (and certainly not anyone of the clergy) must be the authoritative head of the church.(See also Behemoth, or The Long Parliament for Hobbes's mature view on this and other issues.) His formulation of the fundamental law of nature: "that every man, ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of war." (XIV) is described by him as well as a "general rule of reason." (Hobbes discusses reason at length in chapter V, defining it as "nothing but reckoning (that is, adding and subtracting) of the consequences of general names agreed upon" ... "not but that reason itself is always right reason, as well as arithmetic is a certain and infallible art..") Hobbes's fundamental law of nature leads to the second law of nature: "that a man be willing, when others are so too (..) to lay down his right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself." (XIV)- Hobbes's only justification for war is self-preservation (preservation of the state vis à vis other states) based on the contract (covenant) into which the sovereign and the individual citizens have entered, wherein obedience (on the part of the citizen) is willingly bartered for peace and safety, of which the sovereign is the upholder and guarantor. And the Hobbesian citizens willingly obey because the alternative is the natural state where (in what must be Hobbes' most famous statement) "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 instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; 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." (XIII) Leviathan (king of the proud) is the fix for that, and what is more: it is a natural fix; that men decide on a sovereign to willingly obey is also a (Hobbesian) natural law; for Hobbes sees natural law and what he calls "dictates of reason" as the very same thing. Hobbes is a realist; there is no natural goodness in man, firstly because the state of nature doesn’t allow for that, but also because the definitions of "good" and "bad" will vary on an individual basis, according to our likes and dislikes,and so it is the both the prerogative and the duty of the sovereign to define "good" and "bad", and the problem of different opinions is solved by transferring all power in this area to the sovereign. Hobbes sees that every citizen nevertheless will keep their own opinions, but by each keeping them "in their heart", and outwardly obeying the dictates of the sovereign, this (natural) anarchy of opinion is restricted and regulated by the contract entered into. While Hobbes clearly has royalist leanings, his definition of the sovereign includes the possibility of a republican sovereign council, with identical powers as an individual sovereign, although he also sees the diversity of opinion necessarily to be found in a council as a likely deficiency in connection with the absolute sovereignty Hobbes envisions. In Behemoth, Hobbes rails at what he snidely refers to as "mixarchy." ("they .. were in love with mixarchy, which they used to praise by the name of mixed monarchy, though it were indeed nothing else but pure anarchy." Dialogue III) Parts of Leviathan would be exploited both by monarchists and republicans during the Civil War period, though as a whole, Hobbes work didn't really align with their causes. Leviathan, whichever way you look at it, is a masterpiece of political philosophy, and also one that still holds relevance. For example, the relationship between church and state is still a hot topic even today. Hobbes certainly does not advocate a separation of church and state, but rather a subordination of the church to the state. Add to that the fact that Hobbes is a major contributor to western political thought. This work is not only a fascinating read; the clarity with which Hobbes sets out his ideas, along with his masterful rhetoric, also makes Leviathan a pure joy to read - and this is so whether you agree with him or not. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Londi Ziko

    Worth only for its contractualist theory (mainly Part 2 of the book), the rest of it feels so archaic and its christian agenda, disturbing.

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