Leviathan 1651

LEVIATHAN, OR the Matter, Forme, and Power OF A COMMONWEALTH, ECCLESIASTICALL AND CIVILL.  By THOMAS HOBBES of Malmesbury. LONDON. Printed for ANDREW CROOKE, at the Green Dragon in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1651.

  • Leviathan: Of Van De Stoffe, Gedaente, Ende Magt Van De Kerckelycke
    Ende Wereltlycke Eegeeringe. Translated by J. Wagenar. Amsterdam1667.
  • Latin edition as a part of Opera philosophica quae latinè scripsit, omnia. 2 vols. Amsterdam 1668.
  • Leviathan, sive de materia, form, & potestate civitatis ecclesaticae
    et civiliis. Amsterdam 1670.
  • 1794-1795. Des Engländers Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, oder Der
    kirchliche und bürgerliche staat. 2 vols. Translated by anonymous. Halle:
    Hendel 1794, 1795. Translation of the Latin edition.
  • The English Works of Thomas Hobbes, vol. 3 (Leviathan)
  • Leviathan. Edited with an introduction by M. Oakeshott. Oxford:
    Basil Blackwell 1946.
  • Leviathan. Edited by C. B. MacPherson. London: Penguin Books 1958.
  • Leviathan. Edited by R. Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University
    Press 1991.
  • Leviathan. A Critical Edition by G. A. J. Rogers and Karl Schuhmann. Continuum International Publishing Group. London 2005.
  • Leviathan, Critical edition by Noel Malcolm in three volumes: 1. Editorial Introduction; 2 and 3. The English and Latin Texts. Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes. Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Leviathan, eli, Kirkollisen ja valtiollisen yhteiskunnan aines, muoto ja valta. Suomentanut Tuomo Aho. Tampere: Vastapaino, 1999.


Engraving by French artist Abraham Bosse

“No illustration of or quotation about a theory of state has engendered so provocative and image as that of leviathan; it has become more like a mythical symbol fraught with inscrutable meaning. In the long history of political theories, a history exceedingly rich in colourful images and symbols, icons and idols, paradigms and phantasms, emblems and allegories, this leviathan is the strongest and most powerful image.” (Carl Schmitt).


Artificial Animal

 “For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs, the begining whereof is in some principall part within; why may we not say, that all Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs and wheeles as doth a watch) have an artificiall life? For what is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and the loynts, but so many Wheeles, giving motion to the whole Body, such as was intended by the Artificer?”

“Art goes yet further, imitating that Rationall and most excellent worke of Nature, Man. For by Art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON-WEALTH, or STATE, (in latine CIVITAS) which is but an Artificiall Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence it was intended.”

Nosce teipsum

 “Wisedome is acquired, not by reading of Books, but of Men.But there is another saying not of late understood, by which they might learn truly to read one another, if they would take the pains; and that is, Nosce teipsum, Read thyself.”

“For the similitude of the thoughts, and Passions of one man, to the thoughts, and Passions of another,  whosoever looketh into himself, and considereth what he doth, when he does think, opine, reason, hope, feare, &c, and upon what grounds; he shall thereby read and know, what are the thoughts, and Passions of all other men, upon the like occasions.”

“He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but Man-kind.”


1. Of Sense.

“The Originall of them [Thoughts] all, is that which we call SENSE; (For there is no conception in a mans mind, which hath not at first, totally, or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of Sense.) The rest are derived from that originall.”

2. Of Imagination, 3. Of the Consequence or Trayne of Imaginations.

4. Of Speech.

“But the most noble and profitable invention of all other, was that of SPEECH, consisting of Names or Appellations, and their Connexion, whereby men register their Thoughts; recall them when they are past; and also declare them one to another for mutuall utility and conversation; without which, there had been amongst men, neither Common-wealth, nor Society, nor Contract, nor Peace, no more than amongst Lyons, Bears, and Wolves.”

“Of Names, some are Proper, and singular to one onely thing; as  Peter, John, this Man, this Tree: and some are Common to many things; as Man, Horse, Tree; every of which though but one Name, is nevertheless the name of divers particular things; in respect of Universall. all which together, it is called an Universall; there being nothing in the world Universall but Names; for the things named, are every one of them Individuall and Singular.”

5. Of Reason, and Science.

“When a man Reasoneth hee does nothing else but conceive a summe totall, from Addition of parcels; or conceive a Remainder, from Subtraction of one summe from another: which (if it be done by Words,) is conceiving of the consequence of the names of all the parts, to the name of the whole; or from the names of the whole and one part, to the name of the other part.”

“Sense and Memory are but knowledge of Fact, which is a thing past, and irrevocable; Science is the knowledge of Consequences, and dependance of one fact upon another: by which, out of that we can presently do, we know how to do something else when we
will, or the like, another time: Because when we see how any thing comes about, upon what causes, and by what manner; when the like causes come into our power, wee see how to make it produce the like effects.”

“The Light of humane minds is Perspicuous Words, but by exact definitions first snuffed, and purged from ambiguity; Reason is the pace; Encrease of Science, the way; and the Benefit of man-kind, the end. And on the contrary, Metaphors, and senslesse and ambiguous words, are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them, is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities; and their end, contention, and sedition, or contempt.”

“As, much Experience, is Prudence; so, is much Science, Sapience.  For though wee usually have one name of Wisedome for them both; yet the Latines did alwayes distinguish between Prudenti and Sapientia; ascribing the former to Experience, the later to Science.”

6. Of the Interiour Beginnings of Voluntary Motions; commonly called the PASSIONS.

“Because going, speaking, and the like Voluntary motions, depend alwayes upon a precedent thought of whither, which way, and what; it is evident, that the Imagination is the first internall beginning of all Voluntary Motion.”

“In Deliberation, the last Appetite, or Aversion, immediately adhaering to the action, or to the omission thereof, is that wee call the WILL; the Act, (not the faculty,) of Willing. And Beasts that have Deliberation, must necessarily also have Will. The Definition of the Will, given commonly by the Schooles, that it is a Rationall Appetite, is not good. For if it were, then could there be no Voluntary Act against Reason. For a Voluntary Act is that, which proceedeth from the Will, and no other. But if in stead of a Rationall Appetite, we shall say an || Appetite resulting from a precedent Delibera tion, then the Definition is the same that I have given here. Will therefore is the last Appetite in Deliberating.”

“Continuall successe in obtaining those things which a man from time to time desireth, that is to say, continuall prospering, is that men call FELICITY; I mean the Felicity of this life. For there is no such thing as perpetuall Tranquillity of mind, while we live here; because Life it selfe is but Motion, and can never be without Desire, nor without Feare, no more than without Sense.”