Questions on Hobbes's Leviathan, Chapters One through Five
- What is the source of all thoughts?
- How do our senses work? (objects, fancy, matter, motion)
- What have imagination and memory to do with the laws of inertia?
What is "experience"?
- How can we tell dreams from our waking experience?
- What are visions and religious revelations?
- What does Hobbes mean by "mental discourse"? What kinds
- What is "prudence"?
- What is the function of words and speech?
- What does Hobbes mean by "significant" and "insignificant"
- What is the nature of the virtues recognized by classical thought?
- What is "reason"? What is the best example of good
- What is "science"? What is Hobbes's model of a pure
Questions on Chapters Six through Nine
- What are the two kinds of human motivation? (Ch. 6)
- What is the goal of "endeavors"? (Ch. 6)
- How are human desires related to good and evil? to pleasure and
pain? How is good and evil related to pleasure and pain?
- What is the human "will"? (Ch. 6)
- What does Hobbes say about the intellectual virtues? What is
intelligence? stupidity? What is the natural relationship of the
passions to intelligence? What should be the relationship? (Ch. 8)
- What are the basic kinds of knowledge? (Ch. 9)
Questions on Chapter Twelve
- What are the natural causes of religious belief?
- What is the cause of the "perpetual fear" of mankind? What
do men do about it?
- What are the four fundamental errors of most religious belief?
- How have leaders of societies used the causes of religious belief for
their own ends? (Who are the "gentiles"?)
- What are the causes of changes in religions?
- What are Hobbes's criticisms of the Roman Catholics? of many
Protestants (Calvinists and Puritans)?
Questions on Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen
- On what grounds does Hobbes argue that all men are by nature equal?
- What does "by nature" mean here?
- What three human qualities or behaviors follow from men's equality?
- What is the natural condition of human existence? Does Hobbes say
that this is a good condition? a bad condition? a desireable condition?
undesireable condition? necessary or unavoidable condition?
- Does this natural condition really exist? Where?
- What is Hobbes's moral judgment about man's natural condition?
- What is man's natural right?
- What is "right"? "A right"?
- What is "liberty"?
- What is a "law of nature"?
- What is the "first and fundamental law of nature"? From
what does Hobbes derive this?
- What is the second law? From what does Hobbes derive this?
- How can one get rid of a right that one possesses?
- What is the result of getting rid of a right?
- What is an "injury" or "injustice"?
- What rights can one not get rid of?
- What is a "contract"? a "gift"?
- What is a "covenant"? a "promise"?
- How does one make a contract?
- Must one keep his promises? always? when?
- Can one make a covenant with God?
- If one is forced to make a promise, must one keep that promise?
- What promises or covenants need not be fulfilled?
- What is the effect of taking an oath to fulfill one's promises?
Questions on Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen
- What is the third law of nature? What is justice? What does this
third law presuppose that the first two laws did not?
- Is "justice" a reasonable (a "rational") thing?
- Is there "natural justice" or "justice by nature"
or justice without a government?
- What is the purpose of the law of nature?
- What are "just men"?
- What are "just actions"?
- How does each of the remaining laws of nature contribute to the
purpose of the law of nature?
- What is a "person"?
- What is an "author"?
- What is "authority"?
- What can a man "personate" (or "represent")?
- How can one represent a multitude?
- Can a group represent a multitude? Who should control an assembly or
Questions on Chapters Seventeen to Nineteen
- Are the laws of nature binding on men outside of a "commonwealth"?
Are they standards of what is naturally "good"?
- What is the purpose, or "final cause," of men forming
governed societies, or "commonwealths"?
- What has the size of the population to do with the creation of a
- Why are such animals as bees and ants not good models for human
societies? Cp. Mandeville's Fable of the Bees.
- How is a commonwealth created, or "generated"?
- Does Hobbes's description of the "social contract" here
differ significantly from his description in Chapter XIV?
- What is a "commonwealth"?
- In what two general ways do commonwealths come into existence?
- How is a commonwealth or sovereign instituted?
- Why can the people who institute a commonwealth not decide to replace
one sovereign or government with another?
- Can the sovereign breach or break the contract by which the sovereign
is created? Explain.
- What is the legal status of one who either opposes the institution of
a commonwealth or opposes the government under which he lives?
- What remedies do subjects have against injuries by their government?
- What powers of censorship does the government have?
- As you consider all of the listed "rights" of the sovereign
or government, how does each right follow logically from Hobbes's
description of the agreement establishing the sovereign power?
- What is Hobbes's view of the "separation of powers"?
- Does Hobbes believe that people may establish a democratic
commonwealth or government?
- What is the principal difference between monarchy and tyranny?
aristocracy and oligarchy? democracy and anarchy?
- Which form of government does Hobbes seem to think is the best? Why?
Are the others illegitimate or are they simply inferior?
- Why is the possession of the right to determine successon so
Questions on Chapters Twenty and Twenty-one.
- What is a "commonwealth by acquisition"?
- How does it differ from a "commonwealth by institution?
- Is a promise made in fear a binding promise?
- What is "dominion paternal"?
- Is the true relation of king to subjects one of "paternalism"--father
to children? Explain.
- What is "dominion despotical"?
- Is the true relation of king to subjects one of master to slave?
- Is the true relation of king to subjects one of master to servants?
- What is the distinction between slaves and servants?
- What is the extent of a master's "authority"?
- For what avowed purpose does Hobbes cite the Bible?
- What in Hobbes's view is worse: anarchy or tyranny?
- What is the proper basis of statesmanship?
- What, according to Hobbes, are the true definitions of "liberty,"
"power," and "free will."
- Are you "free" to do something if you do it only because
you are too scared not to do it?
- Are you "free" to do something if doing it is the only
course of action open to you; i.e., if you have no alternatives?
- How is the "liberty of subjects" different from the natural
"liberty of men" or the natural "liberty of things"?
- What do all subjects have the liberty to do?
- To whom is a sovereign accountable?
- According to Hobbes, what does it mean to be a "free country"
or a "free people"?
- Is there anything which, though commanded by the sovereign to do, a
subject may refuse to do without him being "unjust"? or, What
may a man never obligate himself to do?
- Are rebellions ever not "unjust"? even if successful?
- When may a subject take a sovereign to court?
- Theoretically, how long does sovereignty last? Practically,