Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan

(1651)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In Leviathan, Hobbes argues that “Nature hath made men … equal in the faculties of body and mind.” While some men may be marginally superior in strength or intelligence to their fellows, the ability of the weakest to kill the strongest either “by secret machination or by confederacy with others” ensures that each man is in danger equal to the next. As a consequence of this “equality of ability,” there arises an “equality of hope” in the “attaining of our ends.”The result of the common abilities to attain these shared hopes and “ends” is the creation of “fear” between men, who see their others as “enemies” competing against them. Fear (“diffidence”) of one another and a need for each man to preserve himself in a world of natural equality lead men to progress from the need to protect themselves to a desire to exert their “own power” through “acts of conquest.” Hobbes argues that within this natural state there are three principal...