Hobbes's Leviathan

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #21207

    I suppose this would have fit better under the second part of this course, but since that is still forthcoming, this forum is the best fit. This a very particular question. I’m understanding most everything, but there are still some places that are difficult to understand fully. The sentence in question is in Chapter 13:

    And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any man to secure himself, so reasonable, as anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can, so long, till he see no other power great enough to endanger him: and this is no more than his own conservation requireth, and is generally allowed.

    I think I understand the overall point of the sentence – that one has to conquer everyone that could harm him before he can feel comfortable. But I think the particular phrase “so reasonable, as anticipation” is where I’m getting thrown off. … I’m trying to teach this to highschoolers, so I’d like to understand every detail.


    Dear eljarrodo,

    I think that what Hobbes means here is simply to get your retaliation in first! The best way to overcome your fear of others is by a preemptive strike, either physical or by some other cunning method.

    I’d be interested to hear what your highschoolers make of all this.

    I’ve just completed the second part of the course and it’s on its way to Dr Woods. I expect he’ll make it available in the very near future. Here’s a list of topics (2 on Hobbes):

    Best wishes,

    Gerard Casey

    List of Recordings

    00 Introduction

    The Huguenots
    01 Huguenot Political Theory

    Jean Bodin, Apostle of Sovereignty
    02 Sovereignty and State
    03 Freedom, Property and the Right to Resist

    The Road Not Taken: Johannes Althusius
    04 Consociation
    05 City, Realm and Sovereignty

    Hugo Grotius
    06 War, Contract, and Law
    07 Certainty, ius naturale, ius gentium, Sovereignty

    Fear, Desire and Hope: Thomas Hobbes
    08 Method, Man and Nature
    09 Personation, the Sovereign and his powers

    The English Revolution
    10 The Levellers
    11 The Diggers
    12 Harrington and Filmer

    John Locke
    13 Man, Nature, Freedom, Property
    14 Ownership of Self and Things
    15 Cecile Fabre, Politics
    16 Government and Consent

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    17 The Discourses
    18 The Social Contract, Freedom

    Politics Naturalised: David Hume
    19 Human Nature, Convention of Justice and Property
    20 Property, Justice, Government, Contract
    21 Contract, Resistance

    Edmund Burke
    22 The Vindication of Natural Society
    23 Society
    24 Defender of Liberty?

    Conservatism and Libertarianism
    25 Change, Tradition, Society
    26 Freedom, Authority and Tradition

    John Stuart Mill
    27 Liberty, Utilitarianism
    28 One very simple principle?
    29 Representative Government

    Back to the Future: Karl Marx
    30 Introduction
    31 Alienation and Exploitation
    32 Exploitation again
    33 Class Struggle, State

    The Anarchist Prophets
    34 What is Anarchism?
    35 William Godwin
    36 Godwin on Property, Max Stirner

    The Classical Anarchists
    37 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
    38 Michael Bakunin
    39 Peter Kropotkin—State and Society
    40 Peter Kropotkin—All things for all; Anarcho-syndicalism

    The Anglophone Anarchists
    41 Josiah Warren
    42 Lysander Spooner
    43 Benjamin Tucker
    44 Auberon Herbert

    Twentieth Century Tribalism: Fascism, National Socialism and Bolshevism
    45 Collectivism and Irrationality
    46 Transcendence
    47 The American Experience, Totalitarianism, Corporatism
    48 Anti-Semitism, Fascism—Left or Right?

    War and the State
    49 War and Human Nature
    50 Types of State, Costs of War
    51 The American Experience
    52 War and the Totalitarian State

    The Twentieth Century
    53 Ayn Rand
    54 Friedrich Hayek
    55 Robert Nozick
    56 Murray Rothbard
    57 John Rawls

    58 Conclusion


    Wow that looks incredibly comprehensive, although I’m sure you had things which you had to leave out. My seniors actually caught on pretty well to Hobbes; although, if not for my paraphrasing comments to the side, I’m not sure how well they would have followed it. But he has a pretty common-sense-take on human nature that I think most people would agree with at first.


    I hope your students realise how lucky they are to have someone like you to introduce them to one of the classics of western political philosophy. Hobbes’s 17th century English can take a little getting used to, plus his use of some quasi-technical terms, but after that, it’s more or less plain sailing.

    Best wishes,


Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.