Questions on Hobbes's Leviathan, Chapters One through Five

  1. What is the source of all thoughts?
  2. How do our senses work? (objects, fancy, matter, motion)
  3. What have imagination and memory to do with the laws of inertia? What is "experience"?
  4. How can we tell dreams from our waking experience?
  5. What are visions and religious revelations?
  6. What does Hobbes mean by "mental discourse"? What kinds are there?
  7. What is "prudence"?
  8. What is the function of words and speech?
  9. What does Hobbes mean by "significant" and "insignificant" signs?
  10. What is the nature of the virtues recognized by classical thought?
  11. What is "reason"? What is the best example of good reasoning?
  12. What is "science"? What is Hobbes's model of a pure science?

Questions on Chapters Six through Nine

  1. What are the two kinds of human motivation? (Ch. 6)
  2. What is the goal of "endeavors"? (Ch. 6)
  3. How are human desires related to good and evil? to pleasure and pain? How is good and evil related to pleasure and pain?
  4. What is the human "will"? (Ch. 6)
  5. 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)
  6. What are the basic kinds of knowledge? (Ch. 9)

Questions on Chapter Twelve

  1. What are the natural causes of religious belief?
  2. What is the cause of the "perpetual fear" of mankind? What do men do about it?
  3. What are the four fundamental errors of most religious belief?
  4. How have leaders of societies used the causes of religious belief for their own ends? (Who are the "gentiles"?)
  5. What are the causes of changes in religions?
  6. What are Hobbes's criticisms of the Roman Catholics? of many Protestants (Calvinists and Puritans)?

Questions on Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen

  1. On what grounds does Hobbes argue that all men are by nature equal?
  2. What does "by nature" mean here?
  3. What three human qualities or behaviors follow from men's equality?
  4. 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?
  5. Does this natural condition really exist? Where?
  6. What is Hobbes's moral judgment about man's natural condition?
  7. What is man's natural right?
  8. What is "right"? "A right"?
  9. What is "liberty"?
  10. What is a "law of nature"?
  11. What is the "first and fundamental law of nature"? From what does Hobbes derive this?
  12. What is the second law? From what does Hobbes derive this?
  13. How can one get rid of a right that one possesses?
  14. What is the result of getting rid of a right?
  15. What is an "injury" or "injustice"?
  16. What rights can one not get rid of?
  17. What is a "contract"? a "gift"?
  18. What is a "covenant"? a "promise"?
  19. How does one make a contract?
  20. Must one keep his promises? always? when?
  21. Can one make a covenant with God?
  22. If one is forced to make a promise, must one keep that promise?
  23. What promises or covenants need not be fulfilled?
  24. What is the effect of taking an oath to fulfill one's promises?

Questions on Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen

  1. What is the third law of nature? What is justice? What does this third law presuppose that the first two laws did not?
  2. Is "justice" a reasonable (a "rational") thing?
  3. Is there "natural justice" or "justice by nature" or justice without a government?
  4. What is the purpose of the law of nature?
  5. What are "just men"?
  6. What are "just actions"?
  7. How does each of the remaining laws of nature contribute to the purpose of the law of nature?
  8. What is a "person"?
  9. What is an "author"?
  10. What is "authority"?
  11. What can a man "personate" (or "represent")?
  12. How can one represent a multitude?
  13. Can a group represent a multitude? Who should control an assembly or council?

Questions on Chapters Seventeen to Nineteen

  1. Are the laws of nature binding on men outside of a "commonwealth"? Are they standards of what is naturally "good"?
  2. What is the purpose, or "final cause," of men forming governed societies, or "commonwealths"?
  3. What has the size of the population to do with the creation of a successful commonwealth?
  4. Why are such animals as bees and ants not good models for human societies? Cp. Mandeville's Fable of the Bees.
  5. How is a commonwealth created, or "generated"?
  6. Does Hobbes's description of the "social contract" here differ significantly from his description in Chapter XIV?
  7. What is a "commonwealth"?
  8. In what two general ways do commonwealths come into existence?
  9. How is a commonwealth or sovereign instituted?
  10. Why can the people who institute a commonwealth not decide to replace one sovereign or government with another?
  11. Can the sovereign breach or break the contract by which the sovereign is created? Explain.
  12. What is the legal status of one who either opposes the institution of a commonwealth or opposes the government under which he lives?
  13. What remedies do subjects have against injuries by their government?
  14. What powers of censorship does the government have?
  15. 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?
  16. What is Hobbes's view of the "separation of powers"?
  17. Does Hobbes believe that people may establish a democratic commonwealth or government?
  18. What is the principal difference between monarchy and tyranny? aristocracy and oligarchy? democracy and anarchy?
  19. Which form of government does Hobbes seem to think is the best? Why? Are the others illegitimate or are they simply inferior?
  20. Why is the possession of the right to determine successon so important?

Questions on Chapters Twenty and Twenty-one.

  1. What is a "commonwealth by acquisition"?
  2. How does it differ from a "commonwealth by institution?
  3. Is a promise made in fear a binding promise?
  4. What is "dominion paternal"?
  5. Is the true relation of king to subjects one of "paternalism"--father to children? Explain.
  6. What is "dominion despotical"?
  7. Is the true relation of king to subjects one of master to slave? Explain.
  8. Is the true relation of king to subjects one of master to servants? Explain.
  9. What is the distinction between slaves and servants?
  10. What is the extent of a master's "authority"?
  11. For what avowed purpose does Hobbes cite the Bible?
  12. What in Hobbes's view is worse: anarchy or tyranny?
  13. What is the proper basis of statesmanship?
  14. What, according to Hobbes, are the true definitions of "liberty," "power," and "free will."
  15. Are you "free" to do something if you do it only because you are too scared not to do it?
  16. 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?
  17. How is the "liberty of subjects" different from the natural "liberty of men" or the natural "liberty of things"?
  18. What do all subjects have the liberty to do?
  19. To whom is a sovereign accountable?
  20. According to Hobbes, what does it mean to be a "free country" or a "free people"?
  21. 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?
  22. Are rebellions ever not "unjust"? even if successful?
  23. When may a subject take a sovereign to court?
  24. Theoretically, how long does sovereignty last? Practically, how long?