“Leviathan Book 1” by Thomas Hobbes (1651) – Chapter 12 – Chapter 16

I’m surprised no metal band has ever used this as an album cover

“Leviathan Book 1” by Thomas Hobbes (1651) – Chapter 12 – Chapter 16

Chapter 12 – Of Religion

  • Religion is purely from man
    • 1 – Because man is the only one to look for the causes of events as well as why things turn out well or badly
    • 2 – Anything with a beginning had something to make it begin which in turn had a cause of it own
    • 3 – Animals focus on getting food while man has the ability to observe the sequence of events & when he can’t see them directly he supposes & suggests how they came into being
      • 1 & 2 are scary because we know things have causes & when we can’t see them & we desire good & don’t want evil, we become overwhelmed by fear of death, poverty, etc. –> leads to no sleep
    • Perpetual fear from ignorance makes us need something we can’t see or feel
      • Establishment of a God, all-powerful, eternal, infinite is out of a desire to understand nature & the future. It allows us to interpret causes –> God, the first mover, which ends that search & worry
      • Same thing goes for man’s soul, we think of them like ghosts or spirits – independent of the body
      • We say God has the same incorporeal attributes as something invisible & intangible, give him a name in order to address & understand him or nature
    • Religion comes up with things they’ve seen happen without explanation, attribute it to God & expect him to play a similar role in things to come – seemingly impossible things
    • Men then behave towards God with expressions of reverence, tanks, submission, etc. Ceremonies fill in the gaps of their knowledge of God & nature – things men fear & taking causal things as prognostics
  • These beliefs come from men’s invention or from God’s commandments & direction
    • Men use them to make men more inclined to obedience, laws, peace, charity & civil society
    • It’s essentially lining up human politics with divine politics – God’s rule are now earthly rules
  • Pagans would attribute one place or one genre of things with a particular spirit – demons, gods, devils, etc.
    • When they prayed to a god, it would be to ask for an outcome, showing favor or making good or evil things happen
    • This religion also allowed people to attribute invisible causes to divine being to explain what they saw in nature
      • The more time & energy they devoted to the gods, the more favor they thought they’d win from them
    • Prognostics in the form of Oracles – came in ambiguous or nonsensical answers to questions so that any answer given could be interpreted by the asker to be true, no matter what actually happened
      • These people consulted gods, read the stars, spoke to animals & the dead, interpreted dreams or natural phenomena to give answers to questions plaguing men
  • First founders of nations used beliefs in these gods or spirits to control behavior – to make them obedient & peaceful from Numa, the king of Peru, Mahomet & on all “conferred” with gods & spirits to make laws
    • Things “displeasing to the gods” were forbidden by the laws
    • Ceremonies, sacrifices & festivals were ordered to please the gods & if they were forgotten or done wrong, it would anger the gods – they’d start floods, earthquakes, plagues
      • Romans weren’t as adamant as other religions. They conquered many foreign lands & allowed local religions so long as they did interfere with their government. The Jews weren’t allowed to acknowledge foreign rule & it caused problems
    • Rules not only applied to your relationship with God but your relationship with your fellow man
  • Since religion is founded on the faith the many have in one person, God is said to put his will in the command of this wise & unholy person
    • Laws & government are established based on this person’s saying without any demonstrable evidence, just divine revelation
    • Anything causing men to doubt or distance themselves from the religion are considered scandalous – injustice, cruelty, profaneness, avarice & luxury
      • Anything to take away from the love toward private interests takes away from the religion
    • People require prophecies & miracles not because they add anymore truth to rule but because since men require natural signs for natural things, they require supernatural signs for supernatural things before they sign up
    • Moses took the Hebrews out of Israel through a series of miracles. He he left them for 40 days & they fell into idolatry & had to be set right
      • Without miracles, they just wouldn’t believe
    • Samuel’s corrupt & unjust sons chose not to have God as their king & he had to set them right again
      • Without justice, the faith failed
  • Christianity spread so easily because the pagan priests were so badly thought of that any straight shooter was bound to succeed
    • Same reason why Catholicism was run out of England & other countries – corruption & belief in absurdities
    • Catholic churches also couldn’t convince its people they had to have a Catholic king or be doomed
  • If he & the clergy disagree who’s to be believed if he’s the executor of Christian law?

Chapter 13 – Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery

  • Men are equal enough that a really weak man can kill a very strong man either alone or by getting help from others – with brute strength or using the mind
    • As far as using the mind goes, there can be inborn wit – intelligence – or acquired knowledge or prudence – experience
      • Men can be unequal in inborn intelligence but they can find other ways to equalize themselves
    • There is an equality in men to hope to achieve goals but both can’t achieve them if the goals are the same thing & they are enemies
      • United forces may be able to deprive him of his life, liberty & the fruits of his labor
    • A man can never be completely free of danger from such attacks
    • Some men take pleasure in the power to take away from others but those who want to prevent this have to be prepared to do the same
      • Men value companions for the power they can bring to them against those that may cause problems
  • 3 causes for quarrels
    • 1 – Competition – makes men invade for gain, using violence to make themselves masters of other people, wives, children & cattle
    • 2 – Diffidence/distrust – makes men invade for safety, in order to defend themselves
    • 3 – Glory – makes men invade for reputation, for trifles – slights on or praise for family, friends, nation, name or profession
  • When men don’t have a common power to keep them in line, they live in a perpetual state of war where it’s every man for himself
    • More of a disposition of war than an actual war. There’s no assurance of peace, where every man is an enemy to other men & there is no security other than one’s own strength
      • Under these conditions, men don’t feel secure enough to develop culture, technology or art/literature to make life better because he’s constantly afraid of death
        • “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 the use of 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.”
  • It’s man’s nature to develop methods to secure himself – arms, locks on doors or boxes & eventually, laws & police to avenge harm done to him
    • What does it say about a man’s trust in others when he locks everything up & always walks around armed?
      • You can’t blame him because we do it too & we know that laws only go so far & criminals don’t obey laws if they don’t want to
    • Men’s passions aren’t necessarily bad
      • But laws to hold them back are meaningless unless most people agree they’re right & for our own good
  • Many say that this state of nature never existed in the world as a rule but we know of several places where this does exist in the savage lands
    • With that said, we should think about what not having a common power to keep up in line would do to us
    • Kings are in a perpetual state of jealous like gladiators in an arena, looking to exploit others from fear or for potential gain
      • In such a situation, nothing is unjust – no right or wrong, no sense of ownership beyond what you can defend yourself – eventually, you’ll lose the fight
  • There are passions to push man towards peace
    • Fear of war & death
    • Desire for a life of relative ease
      • Articles to help us get these are called the laws of nature

Chapter 14 – Of the First and Second Natural Laws, and of Contracts

  • Right of Nature – liberty each man has to use his own power to preserve his own nature/life – whatever it takes
    • Liberty – absence of external impediments that take away a man’s ability to do as he wants
  • Law of Nature – general rule from reason that a man is forbidden to do what is destructive to his life or harms his ability to preserve
    • Right => liberty & law => obligation
  • First Law of Nature – every man should strive for peace & when he can’t get it, he may seek & use what he can in advantages of war => seek peace & follow it
  • Second Law of Nature – if you can follow peace, along with others, you should lay down your right to everything & be happy with as much liberty against others give you as you give them against you
    • If you maintain your right to do whatever you want, then you remain in a state of war
      • If others won’t lay down their rights, you don’t have any reason or obligation to lay down yours
      • Basic reiteration of the Golden Rule & Gospel – don’t do to other people you would want them to do to you
  • Men agreeing to these 2 laws, essentially forgoing their rights to do anything they please, don’t give up anything apart from stopping others from doing as they please – so long as they don’t interfere with each other
    • The right is laid aside by renouncing it or giving it to someone else
      • In transferring it, the benefit goes to a particular person
      • By renouncing it, you don’t really notice who it affects
      • In both cases you have the duty not to interfere with others
  • The transference or renunciation is merely said & can be undone by breaking one’s promise
    • Any relationship based on this promise will be severed by breaking it. That means it’s tenuous at best
      • In order for it to mean something, it must be enforceable
  • Why would a man renounce this right or give it to another? There’s no benefit to it. He’d be crazy or not understand what he’s doing
  • Mutual transferring of right = Contract
    • Transferring a right to a thing isn’t the same as transferring the thing itself
    • One contractor delivers & the other does something with the thing transferred at a specific time as contracted
      • 2nd man keeping up his end is “keeping faith” & not keeping his end is “violating faith”
      • Giving the right unilaterally in hope of friendship is a gift or grace
    • Contracts can be explicit or implicit
      • Explicit contracts say “I give” or “I grant”, etc.
      • Implicit contracts are a consequence of words, silence, actions or a sight showing the will of the contractor
      • Words can imply a promise but they can be vague. Even the words have to have a clear meaning to show the transfer to be understood
    • Contracts can show past, present or future depending on how they are written or said, as do contract to buy or sell
      • Will state precisely what’s given, to whom, under what circumstance, for what length of time, etc.
        • Disputes may arise based on satisfaction or non-satisfaction of conditions
      • Contracts may be voided if both parties trust each other in a state of nature even though there’s no assurance of peace but a man might expose himself to danger
        • When there’s a restraining power & there’s a credible cause of fear that one side will violate the contract, the contract still holds but violator won’t be admitted to the contract
  • When a man sells his land, it’s understood that he’s also selling what grows on it
    • A man transferring rights is also transferring the means of enjoying those rights
    • Giving rights of government also means giving the right to tax for soldiers, magistrates & administration
  • We can only make a covenant with God through meditation of him, either by divine revelation or by his lieutenants governing under him
    • Making vows contrary to the laws of nature are in vain & also unjust
    • Can’t make impossible promises a covenant either
  • Men are freed from their covenants in 2 ways:
    • 1 – performing – natural end of obligation
    • 2 – forgiveness & the restitution of liberty – retransferring of that right the obligation consisted of
  • Covenants entered into by fear are obligatory
    • Contracts to pay ransoms or service for one’s life are binding just as contracts to receive money are also binding
      • POWs & the losers of wars are expected to pay ransoms & reparations
    • What a man can do without obligation can be put into a covenant through fear & can’t be broken
      • A covenant may say: “Unless I do _______, you can kill me” but can’t say “Unless I do _______, I won’t resist you coming to kill me.
    • Criminals condemned to death have armed men guarding them to enforce this
  • A covenant to accuse oneself without assurance of pardon is also invalid because nature has every man as a judge & there’s no place for accusation
    • In a civil state with respect to punishment, a man isn’t obliged not to resist
    • A testimony not willingly given is presumed to be corrupt by nature, just as a testimony not to be believed isn’t bound to be given
    • Confessions gotten by torture aren’t credible either because they’re done to preserve one’s life
  • Force of words only hold covenants in 2 cases
    • Breaking one’s word – the legal & moral consequences
      • A broken oath has its consequences with God
    • Glory & pride – in appearing not to need to break one’s word

Chapter 15 – Of Other Laws of Nature

  • 3rd Law of Nature – men perform covenants they’ve made
    • Foundation of justice because without covenants, there’s no justice or injustice & we remain under the conditions of war
      • When a covenant is made & not performed or enforce, this becomes the definition of injustice
        • Covenants of mutual trust are invalid when one side fears the other won’t perform its duty
      • Justice is the constant will of giving to every man his own & when there’s no “ownership”, there’s no injustice. Without coercive power, there’s no Commonwealth & no ownership because everyone has a right to everything
  • A fool will say there’s no such thing as justice & no one is obliged to enforce covenants to get justice/injustice
    • We know that God’s kingdom has enforced covenants all done by threat of violence which keeps us all “good”
  • You can’t make promises without a civil power to enforce them
    • If power is taken from you or given to you, there must be some sort of force to compel us to do as we’ve promised to do
      • In a state of war, no man can hope to preserve himself without help
      • To have a situation where every man can expect the same level of protection & help, & some threat of punishment for failing to afford them to others, it’s necessary to have a compelling force
      • It’s justice to maintain covenants we’ve gone into
      • Some might say that covenants go beyond a man’s lifetime & he can be punished in the hereafter. Maybe, but it’s not clear what happens after death
  • “Just” & “unjust” mean different things for men & for actions
    • For men, they show a general conformity to reason
    • For actions, a particular action conforms to reason
      • Men are more often referred to righteous & unrighteous than just & unjust
      • A few unjust actions don’t make a righteous man unrighteous, especially if those actions were done in passion or by mistake
      • A man’s righteousness or unrighteousness isn’t framed an action but by an apparent benefit to the action he’s done
      • This allows an unrighteous man to perform seemingly “just acts” but not out of justice but out of benefit to himself
  • Justice of action doesn’t make men just but guiltess & injustice makes them guilty
    • Injustice of manners is the disposition to do injury & injustice of action supposes an injury has been done to someone you’ve made a covenant with
  • Distributive justice – arithmetical proportion (see Nicomachus – Introduction to Arithmetic Book 1 & Book 2), equal benefit to men of equal merit, not due by justice but by grace. Justice comes from an arbitrator who defines what’s just & distributes to each man what is his
    • Merit – competence, ability, etc. This is not distributed as an act of justice but as gift by God or nature (natural endowment – smarts, looks, strength, abilities).
  • Commutative justice – geometrical proportion (see Nicomachus – Introduction to Arithmetic Book 1 & Book 2), distribution of equal value of things contracted for, measure by the opinions of the contractors & the value of the subject of the contract is what the contractors think it is. Value is determined by the contractors & performance in the covenant is as is in a contract of buying/selling, borrowing/lending, etc.
    • Subjective value determined by the contract. If a contractor sets a price, it probably has no objective value. But the subjective value is determined by each contractor & agreed upon in the contract/covenant. Enforcement of this type of covenant is clearly laid out in the contract.
  • 4th Law of Justice – Be grateful for things given to you
  • 5th Law of Justice – Accommodate yourself to others in order to build a functioning society
  • 6th Law of Justice – Pardon past offenses of others in order to assure future peace.
    • A series of vendettas does not make for a peaceful society
  • 7th Law of Justice – In revenge, don’t look to how great the past evil done to you was but how to build a greater future.
    • If absolutely necessary, revenge should be constructive – in order to set a precedent of how future transgressions will be handled
  • 8th Law of Justice – Don’t declare your hatred for another, in word, deed or even dirty looks
    • Spreading animosity towards others doesn’t promote peace
  • 9th Law of Justice – Every man should recognize another for his equal by nature
  • 10th Law of Justice – When entering into peace, you can’t ask for some right that you aren’t willing to extend to others
    • If you have a right that others don’t have, you are no longer equals
  • 11th Law of Justice – A judge between 2 men should deal equally between them
    • Law has to be meted out fairly, otherwise there’s no equality
  • 12th Law of Justice – Indivisible things should be enjoyed in common & without limit. If that’s not possible, it should be divided equally among those with a right to it
  • 13th Law of Justice – If it can’t be divided or shared, there should be a lottery for it
  • 14th Law of Justice – In the case of a lottery there are two kinds available
    • Arbitrary – some outsider assigns the right as he sees fit
    • Primogeniture – the first born will get the right
  • 15th Law of Justice – All men who mediate peace should be allowed safe conduct
  • 16th Law of Justice – When in a controversy, men should submit to an arbitrator
  • 17th Law of Justice – No man is fit as an arbitrator in his own cause
    • Those with a conflict of interest should recuse themselves
  • 18th Law of Justice – No man should arbitrate if it seems like he’ll profit from his decision
  • 19th Law of Justice – In a controversy of fact, a judge shouldn’t give credence to one party over the other

Chapter 16 – Of Persons, Authors, and Things Personated

  • A person is one whose words & actions are his own or representing other men
    • When a person represents himself, he’s a natural person
  • Some artificial persons’ words & deeds actually owned by those they represent & they’re acting on behalf of others with their authority
    • When the representative makes a covenant by their authority, the covenant binds the people to the covenant
      • When doing so without understanding authority makes the artificial person obliged to do something he didn’t authorize
    • A group of men can be represented or personated by one man & it’s the unity of the representer that makes the artificial person. The people are the authors of everything the representer does & says in their name
    • If the representative numbers are even, they can stall or reject a measure
    • If the number is odd, each voice on on side can cancel the other side out so that there’s only one voice left to decide everything
  • 2 types of authors
    • 1 – one who owns the actions of others outright
    • 2 – one who owns the actions of others conditionally

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