The Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes: A Collection of Online Resources and Key Quotes

Lennox Johnson Resources

This page aims to make learning about the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes as easy as possible by bringing together the best articles, podcasts, and videos from across the internet onto one page. To get started, simply choose one of the resources listed below, or browse a selection of key quotes by Hobbes at the bottom of the page.

Encyclopedia Articles

This section features articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The SEP is probably the most comprehensive online philosophy resource. It features in-depth articles on a huge number of philosophical topics, however, it is aimed at an academic audience and may be too detailed and technical for beginners. The IEP is generally more beginner-friendly but is also considered to be less reliable. Wikipedia is also an option, but it is much less reliable than either of these.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Articles

This section features short articles written by professional philosophers and aimed at a general audience. These articles are ideal for anyone looking for a shorter or more beginner-friendly introduction to Hobbes than the encyclopedia articles listed above.

The Times Literary Supplement

The Guardian

Podcasts

This section features episodes from leading philosophy podcasts. These are also aimed at a general audience and are a good option for beginners who prefer audio content.

Philosophy Bites

In Our Time

The Philosopher’s Zone

The Partially Examined Life

Short Videos (<30 mins)

This section features short videos aimed at beginners.

BBC Radio 4

Miscellaneous

Lectures/Longer Videos (>30 mins)

This section features longer videos and lectures. These tend to be less beginner-friendly and aimed at a more academic audience.

Course Syllabi

This section features a selection of university course syllabi. Browsing course syllabi can be a useful way to find reading recommendations.

Books

There is only so much that you can learn using free online resources. This section features books that may be useful if you’re looking to learn more about Hobbes. This list was created using the books featured in the course syllabi above.

Courses

This section features online courses on Hobbes.

Quotes

This section features a selection of key quotes by Hobbes.


Words understood are but the seed, and no part of the harvest of philosophy.

Six Lessons to the Professors of Mathematics


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 mutual utility and conversation; without which there had been amongst men neither Commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor peace, no more than amongst lions, bears, and wolves.

Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 4


Seeing then that truth consisteth in the right ordering of names in our affirmations, a man that seeketh precise truth had need to remember what every name he uses stands for, and to place it accordingly; or else he will find himself entangled in words, as a bird in lime twigs; the more he struggles, the more belimed.

Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 4


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.

Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 6


Nautre hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference between man and man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he. For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.

And as to the faculties of the mind … I find yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength. … That which may perhaps make such equality incredible is but a vain conceit of one’s own wisdom, which almost all men think they have in a greater degree than the vulgar; that is, than all men but themselves, and a few others, whom by fame, or for concurring with themselves, they approve. For 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; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men’s at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of anything than that every man is contented with his share.

Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 13


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, 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.

– Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 13


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.

– Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 13


The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will: … This done, the multitude so united in one person is called a COMMONWEALTH … This is the generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god to which we owe, under the immortal God, our peace and defence.

– Leviathan, pt 2, ch. 17


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