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A Question of Interpretation

Should we view Hobbes’ Leviathan as:

  • A Descriptive work?
    • Explaining how the world is
  • A Normative work?
    • Explaining how the world should be

How might the answer to this question impact our understanding of Hobbes?

Video links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aALy_TI__IE

Hobbes

Leviathan
with selected variants

from the Latin

edition of 1668

Ed ted1 with by
Edwin CLirley

THOMAS HOBBES

Leviathan

with selected variants

from the Latin edition of 1668

Edited,

with Introduction and Notes by

Edwin Curley

Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
Indianapolis/Cambridge

Copyright © 1994 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

All rights reserved
Printed in Canada

12 11 10 09 8 9 10 11 12 13

Cover design by Listenberger and Associates
Text design by Dan Kirklin

For further information, please address
Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 44937
Indianapolis, Indiana, 46244-0937

www.hackettpublishing.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hobbes, Thomas, 1588-1 679.
Leviathan: with selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668 I

Thomas Hobbes: edited, with introduction and notes, by Edwin Curle.
p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and indexes.
ISBN 0-87220-178-3 (cloth) – ISBN O-87220-177-5 (pbk.)
1. Political science-Early works to 1800. 2. State, The.
I. Curley, E. M. (Edwin M.), 1937 . II. Title.

JC153.H65 1994
320. 1-dc20 93-49690

CIP

ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-178-1 (cloth)
ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-177-4 (pbk.)
Adobe ebook ISBN: 978-1-60384-486-4

Contents

Introduction to Hobbes’ Leviathan viii
Biographical Materials xlvii

I. Chronology of the Life of Hobbes xlviii
II. Hobbes’VerseAutobiography liv

III. Excerpts from Hobbes’ Prose Autobiography lxiv
IV. Excerpts from Aubrey’s Life of Hobbes lxv

Bibliography lxxi
Purposes and Features of This Edition lxxiii
Acknowledgments lxxvi

LEVIATHAN

Letter Dedicatory
The Introduction 3

PART I: OF MAN

i Of Sense 6
ii Of Imagination 7

iii Of the Consequence or Train of Imaginations 12
iv Of Speech 15
y Of Reason, and Science 22

vi Of the Interiour Beginnings of Voluntary Motions,
Commonly Called the Passions, and the Speeches
by Which They Are Expressed 27

vii Of the Ends, or Resolutions of Discourse 35
viii OftheVirtues Commonly Called Intellectual, and

Their Contrary Defects 38
ix Of the Several Subjects of Knowledge 47
ix On the Classification of the Sciences (OL) 49
x Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness 50

xi Of the Difference of Manners 57

V

Contents

xii Of Religion 63
xiii Of the Natural Condition of Mankind, As Concerning

Their Felicity, and Misery 74
xiv Of the First and Second Natural Laws and of Contracts 79
xv Of Other Laws of Nature 89

xvi Of Persons, Authors, and Things Personated 101

PART II: OF COMMONWEALTH

xvii Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a
Commonwealth 106

xviii Ofthe Rights of Sovereigns by Institution 110
xix Of the Several Kinds of Commonwealth by Institution

and of Succession to the Sovereign Power 118
xx Of Dominion Paternal and Despotical 127

xxi Of the Liberty of Subjects 136
xxii Of Systems Subject, Political, and Private 146

xxiii Of the Public Ministers of Sovereign Power 155
xxiv Of the Nutrition and Procreation of a Commonwealth 159
xxv Of Counsel 165
xxvi Of Civil Laws 172

xxvii Of Crimes, Excuses, and Extenuations 190
xxviii Of Punishments and Rewards 203

xxix Of those things that Weaken or tend to the Dissolution
of a Commonwealth 210

xxx Of the Office of the Sovereign Representative 219
xxxi Of the Kingdom of God by Nature 233

PART III: OF A CHRISTIAN COMMONWEALTH

xxxii Of the Principles of Christian Politics 245
xxxiii Of the Number, Antiquity, Scope, Authority, and

Interpreters of the Books of Holy Scripture 250
xxxiv Ofthe Signification of Spirit, Angel, and Inspiration

in the Books of Holy Scripture 261
xxxv Of the Signification in Scripture of Kingdom of God,

of Holy, Sacred, and Sacrament 271
xxxvi Of the Word of God, and of Prophets 278

xxxvii Of Miracles, and their Use 293
xxxviii Of the Signification in Scripture of Eternal Life, Hell,

Salvation, The World to Come, and Redemption 301

vi

Contents

xxxix Of the Signification in Scripture of the Word Church 314
xl Of the Rights of the Kingdom of God, in Abraham,

Moses, the High-Priests, and the Kings OfJudah 317
xli Of the Office of our Blessed Saviour 326
xlii Of Power Ecclesiastical 333

xliii Of what is Necessary for a Man’s Reception into the
Kingdom of Heaven 397

PART IV: OF THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS

xliv Of Spiritual Darkness from Misinterpretation of
Scripture 411

xlv Of Demonology and other Relics of the Religion of
the Gentiles 435

xlvi Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy and Fabulous
Traditions 453

xlvi Of the Darkness from Vain Philosophy (OL) 468
xlvii Of the Benefit that proceedeth from such Darkness

and to whom it accrueth 477
xlvii Of those who profited from this darkness (OL) 484

A Review and Conclusion 489

Latin Appendix 498

A Note Regarding Chapter xlii 549

Glossary 550

Index of Subjects 560
Index of Proper Names 573
Index of Biblical Citations 575

vi’

Introduction to Hobbes’ Leviathan

Hobbes has suffered a fate shared by many classic authors. His greatest
work is more often quoted than carefully and thoroughly read. There are
reasons for this. Hobbes took pains to be quotable, sometimes at the cost of
obscuring his message. And Leviathan is a very long book, not all of whose
parts are obviously relevant to its central purpose. My aim here is to give
you some sense of how the parts fit together and to ward off misunder-
standings, which make criticism and rejection seem easy.

A brief summary of Hobbes’ argument will suggest both why we still
read him, and why few accept what they read. Hobbes contends that by
nature people are sufficiently unsocial that if they had to live without an
effective government to check them, they would find themselves in a “war
of all against all.” But people are also sufficiently dependent on one an-
other that in such a war everyone’s life would be, in the book’s most famous
phrase, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” This alternative is so
horrible that life under any effective government would be preferable to it,
no matter what the form of that government. The same features of human
nature which would make life in the state of nature so miserable also make
it impossible for any government to be effective if it does not possess abso-
lute power. To try to limit the powers of government by a constitution or
by dividing authority among different branches of government is to invite
the anarchy and misery of the state of nature. So the subject of an absolute
government should prefer that form of government to any other and give
it “simple obedience.” If you are a citizen in an effective dictatorship,
which makes your life secure from both internal and external threats, with-
out allowing you any say in how you are governed, presumably you are
morally required to obey that government and give it your support. If this
is Hobbes’ conclusion, most of us, I suppose, would find it unacceptable.
But Hobbes’ argument can feel very forceful. Let’s analyze its structure in
finer detail.

LEVIATHAN as a scientific treatise. Leviathan begins with topics appar-
ently far removed from the subject of political obedience: the nature of

vi”

Introduction

thought, language, and science. Why start this way? Like Descartes,
Hobbes thinks ofhimselfas providing new foundations for philosophy, in
his case, as making civil philosophy, the knowledge ofthe rules oflife in
society, scientific for the first time.1 To claim this he must give some ac-
count ofscience. He takes as his model geometry, “the only science that it
hath pleased God hitherto to bestow on mankind.” (iv, 12) One thing
which makes geometry scientific is that geometricians first settle on the
meanings of the terms they use. Once they have done this correctly, all
they have to do further is to calculate the consequences of these definitions
(y, 17).

This may seem an unpromising conception of science. Even if we ac-
cept that civil philosophy can be made like geometry, readers who know
Euclid’s Elements, with its apparatus of definitions, axioms, and formal
proofs of propositions, might wonder why Hobbes assumes that defini-
tions are the only principles we need to treat as requiring no argument.
The answer seems to be that Hobbes thinks the principles typically taken
as axioms are in fact demonstrable from definitions; pupils treat them as
not requiring demonstration only out of deference to their teachers, per-
mitting them to get quickly to more challenging matters (EW VII, 199-
200). So when we encounter in Leviathan a sentence like “Of the voluntary
actions ofevery man, the object is some good to himself” (xiv, 8), we should
not be surprised to find that it seems to follow from Hobbes’ definitions of
“voluntary action” (vi, 53) and “good” (vi, 7). That’s how it should be in a
scientific treatise.

This conception of science makes a lot rest on the definitions. Granted
that they are supposed to be the starting points of demonstrations, it still
seems fair to ask why we should accept these definitions, particularly if they
seem controversial. Midway through Leviathan Hobbes will claim that his
definitions of the words essential to political reasoning are “universally
agreed on.”2 Unfortunately, this is false advertising: it’s not true, and it
seems Hobbes must have known that it wasn’t true. Earlier he had written
that a man who aspires to true knowledge must “examine the definitions of
former authors and either . . . correct them, where they are negligently set
down, or . . . make them himself.” (iv, 13) Frequently he offers his own
definitions as explicit corrections of those commonly given. Examples in-
clude his definition of “the will” (vi, 53), or his definition of “justice” (xv,
2-3). When he defines the terms “right of nature” and “law of nature,” he
complains that writers on this subject tend to confuse the two notions (xiv,

1. Cf. the Epistle Dedicatory to De corpore, EW, I, ix. (For information about
abbreviations and works cited in shortened form, see the Bibliography, p. lxxi.)

2. L xxxii, 1; but cf. xxxiv, 1.

ix

Introduction

1, 3). Similarly, when he discusses the true liberty of the subject and the
distinction between counsels and commands, he complains that previous
writers have badly misunderstood these concepts (xxi, 1-10; xxv, 1). These
definitions certainly involve terms essential to his political reasoning.3

IfHobbes deliberately adopts definitions which depart from those com-
monly given, there must be some stipulation in his definitions. He aims to
reform usage, not merely to report it. But he does not think it entirely
arbitrary what definition we choose. To construct a science we must choose
our definitions “aptly” (y, 17). One test of the aptness ofa definition seems
to be that it should make the right sentences true by definition.

An interesting case is Hobbes’ definition of “obligation” as arising when
a man either abandons or grants away his right, and is then said to be obliged
or bound not to hinder those to whom the right is granted or abandoned
from the benefit of that right (xiv, 7). This makes it true by definition that
all obligation arises from some act of the person whose obligation it is.4
Hobbes surely knew that many of his contemporaries would have thought
that proposition not even true, much less true by definition. Otherwise he
would not have felt it necessary to argue that the parent’s dominion over his
child (and conversely, the child’s obligation to the parent) depends on the
child’s consent (xx, 4). And Hobbes himself seems not to be consistent in
following his own definition (e.g. in xi, 7). But I believe he thought it would
clarify our political thinking if we understood this concept in his terms.5

Another example is Hobbes’ account of the distinction between reli-
gion and superstition. In vi, 36, he makes this depend on what the authori-
ties permit to be taught. But in the preceding century the official religion
of England had changed frequently: from Roman Catholicism to

3. Sometimes the divergence between Hobbes’ definitions and more conven-
tional definitions is not so explicit. E.g., his definition of “felicity” (vi, 58) implic-
itly rejects the scholastic-aristotelian conception of happiness, which implies that
there is one ultimate end for all human beings (cf. xi, 1). Similarly, his account of
conscience challenges traditional religious views of that concept (vii, 4). Even
when doing geometry, Hobbes does not uncritically accept the standard Euclidean
definitions. See his Six Lessons to the Savilian Professors, ch. i, EW VII. Cf. also L
xxv, 1.

4. Cf. xiv, 7, with xxi, 10. Hobbes here states his position more cautiously than he
had in DCv vüi, 3, where he held that all obligation is based on contract. L xxi, lo,
leaves room for obligations based on transfers of right which are not mutual.

5. To accept Hobbes’ definition is, in effect, to exclude the idea that one person
might have an obligation to another based merely on the existence of a relation
between them, independently of any voluntary act on anyone’s part. Prima facie, it
excludes the possibility of man’s having an obligation to God except by covenant.

Introduction

Anglicanism under Henry VIII; back to Romanism under Mary; back to
Anglicanism under Elizabeth. Many of Hobbes’ contemporaries feared a
return to Romanism under Charles I, who had appointed, in William
Laud, an Archbishop of Canterbury who made his puritan subjects very
uncomfortable. To make the distinction between religion and superstition
depend on the religious preferences (and political needs) of the ruler is not
to use these terms the way people generally do. Surely Hobbes knows this.
Presbyterians who thought Catholicism idolatrous would not concede that
the political authority ofa Catholic sovereign could make their faith super-
stitious.

Later in Leviathan (xi, 26) Hobbes gives an even more relativistic ac-
count of the distinction between religion and superstition. My fear of
things invisible, and that of those who worship as I do, is religion;yours, if
different from mine, is superstition. This makes the distinction depend,
not on what worship the state permits, but on the individual speaker’s
beliefs. Hobbes seems to intend the second account as a sardonic comment
on ordinary usage. He gives the first a more privileged argumentative po-
sition, in a list of definitions coming right after the preliminary materials
on the nature of thought, language and science. I suggest we think of the
first account as a theoretical redefinition, motivated by the extreme subjec-
tivity (and divisiveness) of ordinary usage, as reflected in the second ac-
count.

One test of a set of theoretical redefinitions will be the pragmatic effec-
tiveness of the system constructed on their basis:

Science is the knowledge of consequences and dependence of one
fact upon another, by which, out of what we can presently do, we
know how to do something else when we will, or the like another time.
(y, 17)

In civil philosophy an effective system must achieve the ends for which we
form civil society, among which peace will be prominent. So Hobbes’ re-
forming definition of religion is to be accepted because it is the definition
most conducive to civil harmony. It is from experience that we learn what
ends we form civil society for. That’s one reason why Hobbes acknowl-
edges that his argument depends partly on experience.6 Before he discov-
ered geometry, he translated Thucydides, and what he learned about
human nature from the close study of Greek history left a deep imprint on
his later work. We will see many examples as we proceed with our account
of the argument.

6. L xxxii, 1. Note, however, that this features only in the English version.

xi

Introduction

LEVIATHAN as a subversive work. One recurring theme in Hobbes is that
much of what passes for knowledge in the schools is literally nonsense,
language which expresses no genuine thought, and is without meaning (i,
5; ii, 9: iii, 12: xlvi, 14-30). On Hobbes’ theory of the mental, thought
consists of images, the residue in our minds of sensations produced by
external objects acting on our bodies (ii, 2). To conceive something is to
have an image ofit, which requires having had a prior sensation ofit. Con-
sequently, what we cannot sense, we cannot imagine, or conceive, or talk
meaningfully about. In particular, since God, according to both the scho-
lastics and Descartes, is an infinite being, and hence, not one we can sense
or imagine, whatever we say about God cannot signify any conception of
God in our minds. We can make true negative claims about God (e.g.,
when we say that he is infinite or eternal), but if we say anything which
looks like a positive statement about God, what we are really saying is
something about ourselves, viz, that we intend to honor him (xxxi, 28).

This is a controversial doctrine. It has precedents in philosophers who
are honored as fathers of the church, such as John of Damascus.7 But the
main line of scholastic thought, as represented by Aquinas, was not pre-
pared to go so far, holding that, while we cannot know God’s essence, we
can make some true positive claims about God, which are at least analogous
in meaning to similar claims we might make about man. (See Summa
theologiae Ja, qu. 13)

Hobbes does not consistently adopt a negative theology. Under pres-
sure, he will sometimes say positive things about God. But they often turn
out to be highly unorthodox. On his view the phrase “incorporeal sub-
stance” is meaningless because it attempts to combine two terms whose
meanings are contradictory (iv, 21). So, necessarily, all substances are cor-
poreal (contrary to what Descartes and Aquinas had taught, that the hu-
man soul is an incorporeal substance). This raises awkward questions about
God.

In an appendix added in the Latin edition of Leviathan, Hobbes
acknowledges, as an implication of his teaching, that he must either deny
that God exists or affirm that God is a body. Faced with this choice, he
affirms that God is a body and attempts to defend the orthodoxy of this
position (iii, 6; OL III, 561). There is precedent for it among the early
Church fathers, as Hobbes points out. But he knew that the articles which
define the doctrine of the Church of England insist on the incorporeality of
God (as he had pointed out himself at i, 95; OL III, 537-538). That being

7. Whose theory Hobbes will (rather surprisingly) criticize as atheistic in the
Appendix to the Latin version of Leviathan. See iii, 6 (QL III, 562), cf. xlvi, 12.

xl’

Introduction

the church whose teaching he claims to accept,8 we have a puzzle.
Many ofHobbes’ contemporaries accused him of atheism because they

found many heresies in Leviathan. Most twentieth-century interpreters
have read him as a sincere, if somewhat unorthodox, theist. Certainly, ifwe
read him as an atheist, we must discount his affirmations that, however
ignorant we may be of God’s nature, we can at least know by natural reason
that God exists.9 Whether we should discount those affirmations is a ques-
tion readers of Leviathan must answer for themselves. In deciding, keep
the following facts in mind.

(1) The Anglican Church is not eccentric in holding that God is incor-
poreal. The leading theologians of what (in Hobbes’ day) were the major
alternatives within Christianity-Aquinas for the Roman Church and
Calvin for the Church of Geneva-agreed about this.1° There are reasons
for this consensus. To claim that God is a body raises problems Hobbes
never addresses. If God is a body, what is his relation to other bodies? To
say he is identical with the totality of bodies risks incurring charges of
atheism (xxxi, 15). But ifwe say that he is one body among others, we seem
to say that he is finite, which again may lead to charges of atheism (xxxi,
18). Perhaps because Hobbes knew this was a highly sensitive issue he
declined to acknowledge his commitment to God’s corporeality until, late
in life, he published Leviathan in Latin in a foreign country.

(2) To question Hobbes’ sincerity in professing theism is not necessar-
ily to charge him with any moral fault. In the England of his day the pen-
alties for openly denying less central doctrines than the existence of God
could be severe enough to make even a bold man think twice, and the
boundaries between what could and could not be published were fluid. In
1648, when the Presbyterians controlled Parliament, they passed legisla-
tion making it a capital offense to deny the trinity, or the divinity ofJesus,

8. In the biographical materials, see PA [3], [5], and Aubrey [11].

9. Hobbes affirms this more clearly in other works than in Leviathan itself. Cf.
ELI, xi, l-2, or DCv ii, 21; xiv, 19; xv, 14. In Leviathan xi, 25, he will say that our
curiosity and consequent inquiry into natural causes necessarily incline us to be-
lieve in a first cause, whom men call God. This is not quite to claim that God’s
existence is demonstrable. In DCr xxvi, 1, Hobbes implies that God’s existence is
not demonstrable, that we must accept it on faith. He says that explicitly in
TWDME, xxvi. There is no clear chronological development in Hobbes’ teaching
on this issue. He vacillates.

10. For Aquinas, see Summa theologiae I, qu. 3, art. 1; for Calvin, Institutes I, xi, 2.
Some Biblical texts suggest God’s corporeality, but the dominant tendency in
Christian theology, at least since the time of Augustine, has been to interpret them
figuratively (cf. De trinîtate I, i; VIII, ii).

xiii

Introduction

or the inspiration of the Bible, or the last judgment. You could receive an
indeterminate prison sentence for holding that a man is bound to believe
no more than he can comprehend by reason. By the time Hobbes pub-
lished Leviathan the Independents were in control; they had a more mod-
erate conception of blasphemy, but there were limits to their toleration. It
was still possible to go to jail for denying the immorality of such offenses as
murder, adultery and incest, or denying the existence of heaven or hell. In
1652 Parliament ordered the burning of the Racovian Catechism, which
defined the central tenets of the Socinians, a unitarian sect.1′ After the
Restoration, when the Anglican bishops were again in control, Parliament
set up a committee to inquire into books which might tend to atheism,
naming Leviathan as one which would require their special attention.
Hobbes’ friend Aubrey reports that he took this threat seriously enough to
burn some of his papers.12 When he subsequently published the Latin
Leviathan, he took care to alter the passages in the English version which
had led to charges of denying the trinity (see xvi, 12, and xlii, 3), and in the
appendix he devoted considerable attention to the Council of Nicaea,
which had first defined the position of the Church on the relation of God
the Father to God the Son. Anyone interested in determining Hobbes’
religious views should read that appendix with care.

(3) In reading Leviathan we should also try to understand why many of
his contemporaries reacted so strongly against it. One critic was the Earl
of Clarendon, a royalist, who wrote a caustic, but acute attack on
Hobbes’ book. Hobbes had complained that because the schools were ig-
norant of the nature of the imagination and its causes, they passed on much
traditional nonsense about it. Among the teachings he criticized was their
doctrine that “good thoughts are blown (inspired) into a man by God, and
evil thoughts by the devil.” (ii, 9) This prompted Clarendon to complain
that

it is some part of his art to introduce, upon the sudden, instances and
remarks, which are the more grateful [agreeable], and make the more
impression on his reader, by the unexpectedness of meeting them where
somewhat else is talked of. . . No man would have imagined that in a
philosophical discourse of dreams, and fairies, and ghosts, and goblins,
exorcisms, crosses and holy water, he would have taken occasion to

11. See W. K. Jordan, The Development of Religious Toleration in England, vol. III,
From the convention of the Long Parliament to the Restoration, 1640-1660, Harvard
UP, 1938.

12. In the biographical materials, see Aubrey [14].

xiv

Introduction

have reproved Job for saying that the inspiration of the Almighty giveth
men understanding Gob 32:8))

Clarendon warns us here to pay particular attention to Hobbes’ apparent
digressions. Hobbes does not explicitly reprove Job. But by assimilating
the doctrine of divine inspiration to such superstitions as the belief in
witchcraft and ghosts, he does tend to bring orthodox doctrine into dis-
credit. There may be other examples at vii, 7, and xii, 20.

A realistic theory of human nature? Hobbes’ spirit seems, in one key re-
spect, to be like Machiavelli’s before him: to act wisely in our dealings with
others, we must not entertain any illusions about human goodness.14 This
policy is sometimes called “realism.” In Hobbes it often takes the form of
an egoism which sounds so extreme that it is very vulnerable to
counterexamples: e.g., “of the voluntary actions of every man, the object is
some good to himself.” (xiv, 8; cf. xiv, 29, xv, 4, 16, & 31, xxvii, 8)Is this
really a realistic assumption to make? Does no one ever act for the good of
others? or out of respect for justice?

Hobbes does not deny the existence of benevolent or conscientious ac-
tions, and he probably does not think that they always have an ulterior
motive, though he is apt to see self-interest in any act of charity. 15 But he
certainly thinks that disinterested benevolence and action for the sake of
duty are uncommon enough that political theory should not take much
account of them. In L xv, 9, he says clearly enough that people may be
moved to do what is just by the thought that they will benefit from doing
it or by the thought that it is just. They earn the title of a just or righteous
person in the rare case when they consistently act from the latter motiva-
tion. Similarly in xix, 4, Hobbes shows that he does not think people will
very often prefer the public interest to a conflicting private interest; but he
concedes that sometimes they will. 16

Hobbes’ egoism, then, is more moderate (and more defensible) than it

13. Edward Hyde, A Brief Vie,v and Survey of the dangerous and pernicious
Errors to Church and State, in Mr. Hobbes’s Book Entitled Leviathan, Oxford, 1676,
pp. 16-17.

14. Cf. The Prince, esp. ch. xv. I discuss the similarities and differences between
Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Spinoza in “Kissinger, Spinoza, and Genghis Khan,”
forthcoming in Don Garrett’s Cambridge Companion to Spinoza.
15. In the biographical materials, see Aubrey [16].

16. Note that in this passage Hobbes takes a “private” interest to include, not only
the person’s self-interest as an individual, but also the interests of family, kin and
friends. Similarly, in xiii, 7, he will hold that when men go to war for the sake of

xv

Introduction

sometimes sounds. Why does Hobbes so often make it sound so extreme?
The answer seems to lie in his conception of what a scientific treatment of
political affairs ought to be)7 He chooses definitions of “voluntary action”
(vi, 53) and “good” (vi, 7) intended to make it true by definition that when-
ever we act voluntarily we are acting for the sake of (what we take to be) our
own good. When we act voluntarily we are choosing what at the moment
we most desire and, whatever that may be, that will be what at that moment
we take to be our own good. Hobbes’ definitions deliberately make egoism
a tautology. But he thinks his choice apt because he thinks the total theory
in which the definitions are embedded has pragmatic advantages.

We see this motivation in Hobbes’ most explicit defense against the
charge of holding too pessimistic a view of human nature. In De cive, he
had argued that without the restraint provided by fear of government,
every man would distrust and dread every other man. In the preface to the
second edition he replied to an objection to this principle:

it would needs follow, not only that all men are evil (which perhaps,
though it is a hard saying, yet we must grant, since it seems to be so
clearly declared by holy writ),18 but also evil by nature (which cannot be
granted without impiety).19

Hobbes replies that it does not follow even that all men are evil, much less
that they are all evil by nature:

even if the evil were fewer …

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