137+ Best Thomas Hobbes Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Thomas Hobbes, in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 masterpiece Leviathan, which expounded an influential formulation of social contract theory. Insightful Thomas Hobbes quotes help you re-evaluate everythings, get a fresh start, find your path, and stand back up.

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Most Famous Thomas Hobbes Quotes

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called ‘Facts’. They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain. – Thomas Hobbes

The disembodied spirit is immortal; there is nothing of it that can grow old or die. But the embodied spirit sees death on the horizon as soon as its day dawns. – Thomas Hobbes

Government is necessary, not because man is naturally bad… but because man is by nature more individualistic than social. – Thomas Hobbes

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. – Thomas Hobbes

Ignorance of the law is no good excuse, where every man is bound to take notice of the laws to which he is subject. – Thomas Hobbes

The object of man’s desire is not to enjoy once only, and for one instant of time; but to assure forever, the way of his future desires. – Thomas Hobbes

Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money. – Thomas Hobbes

Appetite, with an opinion of attaining, is called hope; the same, without such opinion, despair. – Thomas Hobbes

So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death. And the cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to, or that he cannot be content with a moderate power: but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well, which he hath present, without the acquisition of more. – Thomas Hobbes

Leisure is the Mother of Philosophy. – Thomas Hobbes

Nature itself cannot err – Thomas Hobbes

Men looke not at the greatnesse of the evill past, but the greatnesse of the good to follow. – Thomas Hobbes

The privilege of absurdity; to which no living creature is subject, but man only. – Thomas Hobbes

If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are. – Thomas Hobbes

Good and Evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different tempers, customs, and doctrines of men, are different: And diverse men differ not only in their judgment, on the senses of what is pleasant and unpleasant to the taste, smell, hearing, touch, and sight, but also of what is conformable, or disagreeable to Reason, in the actions of the common life. Nay, the same man, in diverse times, differs from himself, and one-time praiseth, that is, calleth Good, what another time he dispraiseth, and calleth Evil. – Thomas Hobbes

It is fairer to tax people on what they extract from the economy, as roughly measured by their consumption, than to tax them on what they produce for the economy, as roughly measured by their income. – Thomas Hobbes

Intemperance is naturally punished with diseases; rashness, with mischance; injustice; with violence of enemies; pride, with ruin; cowardice, with oppression; and rebellion, with slaughter. – Thomas Hobbes

Understanding is nothing else than conception caused by speech. – Thomas Hobbes

For it is not the shape, but their use, that makes them angels. – Thomas Hobbes

They that are discontented under monarchy, call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy, call it oligarchy: so also, they which find themselves grieved under a democracy, call it anarchy, which signifies the want of government; and yet I think no man believes, that want of government, is any new kind of government. – Thomas Hobbes

During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man. – Thomas Hobbes

There is no action of man in this life that is not the beginning of so long a chain of consequences as no human providence is high enough to give a man a prospect in the end. And in this chain, there are linked together both pleasing and unpleasing events in such manner as he that will do anything for his pleasure must engage himself to suffer all the pains annexed to it. – Thomas Hobbes

Laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly. – Thomas Hobbes

Because silver and gold have their value from the matter itself, they have first this privilege, that the value of them cannot be altered by the power of one, nor of a few commonwealths, as being a common measure of the commodities of all places. But base money may easily be enhanced or abased. – Thomas Hobbes

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark. – Thomas Hobbes

Subjects have no greater liberty in a popular than in a monarchial state. That which deceives them is the equal participation of command. – Thomas Hobbes

Power as is really divided, and as dangerously to all purposes, by sharing with another an Indirect Power, as a Direct one. – Thomas Hobbes

Every man may think his own cause just till it be heard and judged. – Thomas Hobbes

The source of every crime, is some defect of the understanding; or some error in reasoning; or some sudden force of the passions. Defect in the understanding is ignorance; in reasoning, erroneous opinion. – Thomas Hobbes

And as in other things, so in men, not the seller, but the buyer determines the Price. – Thomas Hobbes

There is no such thing as perpetual tranquillity of mind while we live here; because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense. – Thomas Hobbes

The end of knowledge is power … the scope of all speculation is the performing of some action or thing to be done. – Thomas Hobbes

The first and fundamental law of Nature, which is, to seek peace and follow it. – Thomas Hobbes

Silence is sometimes an argument of Consent. – Thomas Hobbes

For there are very few so foolish who would not rather govern themselves than be governed by others. – Thomas Hobbes

The world is governed by opinion. – Thomas Hobbes

Such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves. – Thomas Hobbes

For if all things were equally in all men, nothing would be prized. – Thomas Hobbes

Passions unguided are for the most part mere madness. – Thomas Hobbes

Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind or imagined from tales publicly allowed, is religion; not allowed, superstition. – Thomas Hobbes

I think, therefore matter is capable of thinking. – Thomas Hobbes

No Discourse whatsoever, can End in absolute Knowledge of Fact. – Thomas Hobbes

And seeing every man is presumed to do all things in order to his own benefit, no man is a fit Arbitrator in his own cause – Thomas Hobbes

As soon as a thought darts, I write it down. – Thomas Hobbes

Science is the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of one fact upon another. – Thomas Hobbes

If any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies. – Thomas Hobbes

To say God spake or appeared as he is in his own nature, is to deny his Infiniteness, Invisibility, Incomprehensibility. – Thomas Hobbes

and where men build on false grounds, the more they build, the greater is the ruine – Thomas Hobbes

It’s not the pace of life I mind. It’s the sudden stop at the end. – Thomas Hobbes

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

Prudence is a presumption of the future, contracted from the experience of time past. – Thomas Hobbes

Humans are driven by a perpetual and restless desire of power. – Thomas Hobbes

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

The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone. – Thomas Hobbes

How could a state be governed or protected in its foreign relations if every individual remained free to obey or not to obey the law according to his private opinion. – Thomas Hobbes

Hell is Truth Seen Too Late. – Thomas Hobbes

The original of all great and lasting societies consisted not in the mutual good will men had toward each other, but in the mutual fear they had of each other. – Thomas Hobbes

It is not wisdom but Authority that makes a law – Thomas Hobbes

The right of nature… is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life. – Thomas Hobbes

To this war of every man against every man, this also in 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 cardinal virtues. – Thomas Hobbes

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry… no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. – Thomas Hobbes

If nobody makes you do it, it counts as fun. – Thomas Hobbes

The passions of men are commonly more potent than their reason. – Thomas Hobbes

All men, among themselves, are by nature equal. The inequality we now discern hath its spring from the civil law. – Thomas Hobbes

Where there is no common power, there is no law – Thomas Hobbes

If I had read as much as other men, I would have known no more than they. – Thomas Hobbes

Curiosity is the lust of the mind. – Thomas Hobbes

Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing. – Thomas Hobbes

It is one thing to desire, another to be in capacity fit for what we desire. – Thomas Hobbes

So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name. – Thomas Hobbes

Immortality is a belief grounded upon other men’s sayings, that they knew it supernaturally; or that they knew those who knew them that knew others that knew it supernaturally. – Thomas Hobbes

Curiosity draws a man from consideration of the effect, to seek the cause. – Thomas Hobbes

Men measure not only other men, but all other things, by themselves. – Thomas Hobbes

A wise man should so write (though in words understood by all men) that wise men only should be able to commend him. – Thomas Hobbes

That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself. – Thomas Hobbes

The flesh endures the storms of the present alone; the mind, those of the past and future as well as the present. Gluttony is a lust of the mind. – Thomas Hobbes

In the state of nature profit is the measure of right. – Thomas Hobbes

The Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof. – Thomas Hobbes

They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion. – Thomas Hobbes

Sudden glory is the passion which maketh those grimaces called laughter. – Thomas Hobbes

When all the world is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war, which provideth for every man, by victory or death. – Thomas Hobbes

Such truth, as opposeth no man’s profit, nor pleasure, is to all men welcome. – Thomas Hobbes

The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame or blame. – Thomas Hobbes

A man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force, to take away his life. – Thomas Hobbes

Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation. – Thomas Hobbes

I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death. – Thomas Hobbes

The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them. – Thomas Hobbes

No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it. – Thomas Hobbes

War consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known. – Thomas Hobbes

He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy. – Thomas Hobbes

Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. – Thomas Hobbes

The praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living. – Thomas Hobbes

The power of a man, to take it universally, is his present means, to obtain some future apparent good; and is either original or instrumental. – Thomas Hobbes

Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon with them, but they are the money of fools. – Thomas Hobbes

A man’s conscience and his judgement is the same thing; and as the judgement, so also the conscience, may be erroneous. – Thomas Hobbes

Desire to know why, and how – curiosity, which is a lust of the mind, that a perseverance of delight in the continued and indefatigable generation of knowledge – exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure. – Thomas Hobbes

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 – Thomas Hobbes

He that is to govern a whole Nation , must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but Mankind; which though it be hard to do, harder than to learn any Language, or Science; yet, when I shall have set down my own reading orderly, and perspicuously, the pains left another, will be only to consider, if he also find not the same in himself. For this kind of Doctrine, admitteth no other Demonstration. – Thomas Hobbes

Baptism is the sacrament of allegiance of them that are to be received into the Kingdom of God, that is to say, into Eternal life, that is to say, to Remission of Sin. For as Eternal life was lost by the committing, so it is recovered by the remitting of men’s sins. – Thomas Hobbes

For it is with the mysteries of our religion, as with wholesome pills for the sick, which swallowed whole, have the virtue to cure; but chewed, are for the most part cast up again without effect. – Thomas Hobbes

Geometry is the only science that it hath pleased God hitherto to bestow on mankind. – Thomas Hobbes

Desire of praise disposeth to laudable actions. – Thomas Hobbes

And as to the faculties of the mind, setting aside the arts grounded upon words, and especially that skill of proceeding upon generall, and infallible rules, called Science; which very few have, and but in few things; as being not a native faculty, born within us; nor attained, (as Prudence,) while we look after somewhat else. – Thomas Hobbes

By this we may understand, there be two sorts of knowledge, whereof the one is nothing else but sense, or knowledge original (as I have said at the beginning of the second chapter), and remembrance of the same; the other is called science or knowledge of the truth of propositions, and how things are called, and is derived from understanding. – Thomas Hobbes

I mean by the universe, the aggregate of all things that have being in themselves; and so do all men else. And because God has a being, it follows that he is either the whole universe, or part of it. Nor does his Lordship go about to disprove it, but only seems to wonder at it. – Thomas Hobbes

To say that God is an incorporeal substance, is to say in effect there is no God at all. What alleges he against it, but the School-divinity which I have already answered? Scripture he can bring none, because the word incorporeal is not found in Scripture. – Thomas Hobbes

Can it then be doubted, but that God, who is infinitely fine Spirit, and withal intelligent, can make and change all species and kind of body as he pleaseth? But I dare not say, that this is the way by which God Almighty worketh, because it is past my apprehension: yet it serves very well to demonstrate, that the omnipotence of God implieth no contradiction. – Thomas Hobbes

Moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good, and evil, in the conversation, and society of mankind. Good, and evil, are names that signify our appetites, and aversions; which in different tempers, customs, and doctrines of men, are different. – Thomas Hobbes

Corporations are may lesser commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural man. – Thomas Hobbes

If this superstitious fear of Spirits were taken away, and with it, Prognostiques from Dreams, false Prophecies, and many other things depending thereon, by which, crafty ambitious persons abuse the simple people, men would be much more fitted then they are for civill Obedience. – Thomas Hobbes

Desire , to know why, and how, CURIOSITY; such as is in no living creature but Man ; so that Man is distinguished, not only by his Reason; but also by this singular Passion from other Animals ; in whom the appetite of food, and other pleasures of Sense, by predominance, take away the care of knowing causes; which is a Lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of Knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal Pleasure. – Thomas Hobbes

And this Feare of things invisible, is the naturall Seed of that, which everyone in himself calleth Religion; and in them that worship, or feare that Power otherwise than they do, Superstition. – Thomas Hobbes

A Covenant not to defend my selfe from force, by force, is always voyd. – Thomas Hobbes

For all uniting of strength by private men, is, if for evil intent, unjust; if for intent unknown, dangerous to the Publique, and unjustly concealed. – Thomas Hobbes

For naturall Bloud is in like manner made of the fruits of the Earth; and circulating, nourisheth by the way, every Member of the Body of Man. – Thomas Hobbes

I know not how the world will receive it, nor how it may reflect on those that shall seem to favor it. For in a way beset with those that contend, on one side for too great Liberty, and on the other side for too much Authority , ’tis hard to passe between the points of both unwounded. – Thomas Hobbes

If men are naturally in a state of war, why do they always carry arms and why do they have keys to lock their doors? – Thomas Hobbes

Reason is the Soul of the Law. – Thomas Hobbes

To be seduced by Orators, as a Monarch by Flatterers. – Thomas Hobbes

But his Lordship [tells]us that God is wholly here, and wholly there, and wholly everywhere, because he has no parts. I cannot comprehend nor conceive this. For methinks it implies also that the whole world is also in the whole God, and in every part of God. Norcan I find anything of this in the Scripture. If I could find it there, I could believe it; and if I could find it in the public doctrine of the Church, I could easily abstain from contradicting it. – Thomas Hobbes

For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice. – Thomas Hobbes

He that has most experience [is] so much more prudent than he that is new, as not to be equalled by any advantage of natural and extemporary wit- though many young men think the contrary. – Thomas Hobbes

Prophecy is many times the principal cause of the events foretold. – Thomas Hobbes

When a man tells me God hath spoken in a dream, I know he dreamt that God spoke to him. – Thomas Hobbes

It is not easy to fall into any absurdity, unless it be by the length of an account; wherein he may perhaps forget what went before. For all men by nature reason alike, and well, when they have good principles. – Thomas Hobbes

The Imagination that is raised in man (or any other creature imbued with the faculty of imagining) by words, or other voluntary signs, is that we generally call Understanding; and is common to Man and Beasts. – Thomas Hobbes

A Law of Nature, (Lex Naturalis) is 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; and to omit, that, by which he thinketh it may be best preserved. – Thomas Hobbes

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 wolf. The first is true, if we compare citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare cities. – Thomas Hobbes

But they that hold God to be [an incorporeal substance]do absolutely make God to be nothing at all. But how? Were they atheists? No. For though by ignorance of the consequence they said that which was equivalent to atheism, yet in their hearts they thought God a substanceSo that this atheism by consequence is a very easy thing to be fallen into, even by the most godly men of the church. – Thomas Hobbes

As, in Sense, that which is really within us, is (as I have said before) only Motion, caused by the action of external objects, but in appearance; to the Sight, Light and Color; to the Ear, Sound; to the Nostril, Odor, &c. – Thomas Hobbes

There be as many persons of a king, as there be petty constables in his kingdom. And so, there are, or else he cannot be obeyed. But I never said that a king, and every one of his persons, are the same substance. – Thomas Hobbes

From what cause the rite of baptism first proceeded is not expressed formally in the scripture, but it may be probably thought to be an imitation of the law of Moses concerning leprosy, wherein the leprous man was commanded to be kept out of the camp of Israel for a certain time, after which time being judged by the priest to be clean, he was admitted into the camp after a solemn washing. And this may therefore be a type of the washing in baptism, wherein such men as are cleansed of the leprosy of Sin by Faith, are received into the church with the solemnity of baptism. – Thomas Hobbes

True and False are attributes of speech, not of things. And where speech is not, there is neither Truth nor Falsehood. – Thomas Hobbes

Setting themselves against reason, as often as reason is against them. – Thomas Hobbes

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 Commonwealth, nor Society, nor Contract, nor Peace, no more than amongst Lyons, Bears, and Wolves. – Thomas Hobbes

That wee have of Geometry, which is the mother of all Naturall Science, wee are not indebted for it to the Schools. – Thomas Hobbes

So easy are men to be drawn to believe any thing, from such men as have gotten credit with them; and can with gentleness and dexterity take hold of their fear and ignorance. – Thomas Hobbes

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