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57 Philosophical Thomas Hobbes Quotes

Challenge yourself with these Thomas Hobbes quotes.

Thomas Hobbes was an English historian, philosopher, and scientist who lived during the late 1500s and much of the 1600s.

His most known piece of political work, Leviathan, where he largely supports an absolute monarchy. He wasn’t a believer in moral ideas when it came to man’s natural state.

You may find yourself agreeing with some of his quotes. Or you may find yourself on the opposite side of the fence as him.

However, there is always something we can learn from looking at other perspectives, even more so when they are lasting words of someone from centuries ago. See what you think of these Thomas Hobbes quotes.

Don’t forget to also check out these Frantz Fanon quotes on race, language, and revolution.

Thomas Hobbes about people

1. “The condition of man . . . is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.” – Thomas Hobbes

2. “The characters of man’s heart blotted and confounded as they are with dissembling, lying, counterfeiting, and erroneous doctrines, are legible only to him that searcheth hearts.” – Thomas Hobbes

3. “Humans are driven by a perpetual and restless desire of power.” – Thomas Hobbes

4. “The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame or blame.” – Thomas Hobbes

5. “If any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies.” – Thomas Hobbes

6. “For such is the nature of man, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand and other men’s at a distance.” – Thomas Hobbes

7. “The passions of men are commonly more potent than their reason.” – Thomas Hobbes

8. “For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.” – Thomas Hobbes

9. “The object of man’s desire is not to enjoy once only, and for one instant of time; but to assure forever, the way of his future desires.” – Thomas Hobbes

Wise Thomas Hobbes quotes

10. “Knowledge is power.” – Thomas Hobbes

11. “Let a man (as most men do) rate themselves as the highest Value they can; yet their true Value is no more than it is esteemed by others.” – Thomas Hobbes

12. “Words are the counters of wise men, and the money of fools.” – Thomas Hobbes

13. “Look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness of the good to follow.” – Thomas Hobbes

14. “So easy are men to be drawn to believe anything from such men as have gotten credit with them; and can with gentleness and dexterity take hold of their fear and ignorance.” – Thomas Hobbes

15. “Thoughts are to the Desires as Scouts and Spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things Desired.” – Thomas Hobbes

16. “Men measure not only other men, but all other things, by themselves.” – Thomas Hobbes

17. “The Present only has a being in Nature; things Past have a being in the Memory only, but things to come have no being at all; the Future but a fiction of the mind.” – Thomas Hobbes

18. “Desire of praise disposeth to laudable actions.” – Thomas Hobbes

19. “The original of all great and lasting societies considered not in the mutual goodwill men had toward each other, but in the mutual fear they had of each other.” – Thomas Hobbes

20. “The oath adds nothing to the obligation. For a covenant, if lawful, binds in the sight of God, without the oath, as much as with it; if unlawful, bindeth not at all, though it be confirmed with an oath.” – Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes quotes about war, crime, good and evil

21. “And Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words, and of no strength to secure a man at all.”- Thomas Hobbes

22. “Life is nasty, brutish, and short.” – Thomas Hobbes

23. “For it can never be that war shall preserve life, and peace destroy it.” – Thomas Hobbes

24. “When all the world is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war, which provideth for every man, by victory or death.” – Thomas Hobbes

25. “Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.” – Thomas Hobbes
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of war quotes from writers, politicians, and more.

26. “Good and Evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different tempers, customs, and doctrines of men, are different: And diverse men differ not only in their judgment, on the senses of what is pleasant and unpleasant to the taste, smell, hearing, touch, and sight, but also of what is conformable, or disagreeable to Reason, in the actions of the common life. Nay, the same man, in diverse times, differs from himself, and one-time praiseth, that is, calleth Good, what another time he dispraiseth, and calleth Evil.” – Thomas Hobbes

27. “The source of every crime, is some defect of the understanding; or some error in reasoning; or some sudden force of the passions. Defect in the understanding is ignorance; in reasoning, erroneous opinion.” – Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes quotes about learning

28. “Curiosity is the lust of the mind.” – Thomas Hobbes

29. “The most noble and profitable invention of all other, was that of speech, consisting of names or apellations, and their connections; whereby men register their thoughts; recall them when they are past; and also declare them one to another for mutual utility and conversation; without which, there had been amongst men, neither commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor peace, no more than amongst lions, bears, and wolves.” – Thomas Hobbes

30. “It is one thing to desire, another to be in capacity fit for what we desire.” – Thomas Hobbes

31. “And Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words, and of no strength to secure a man at all.” – Thomas Hobbes

32. “The first and fundamental law of Nature, which is, to seek peace and follow it.” – Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes quotes on government

33. “How could a state be governed, or protected in its foreign relations if every individual remained free to obey or not to obey the law according to his private opinion.” – Thomas Hobbes

34. “Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money.” – Thomas Hobbes

35. “All men, among themselves, are by nature equal. The inequality we now discern hath its spring from civil law.” – Thomas Hobbes

36. “A democracy is no more than an aristocracy of orators. The people are so readily moved by demagogues that control must be exercised by the government over speech and press.” – Thomas Hobbes

37. “Government is necessary, not because man is naturally bad… but because man is by nature more individualistic than social.” – Thomas Hobbes

38. “It is not wisdom but Authority that makes a law.” – Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes quotes to inspire and teach

39. “Leisure is the mother of Philosophy.” – Thomas Hobbes

40. “If nobody makes you do it, it counts as fun.” – Thomas Hobbes

41. “Because waking I often observe the absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdities of my waking thoughts, I am well satisfied that being awake, I know I dream not; though when I dream, I think myself awake.” – Thomas Hobbes

42. “It is many times with a fraudulent design that men stick their corrupt doctrine with the cloves of other men’s wit.” – Thomas Hobbes

43. “Hell is truth seen too late.” – Thomas Hobbes

44. “As a draft-animal is yoked in a wagon, even so the spirit is yoked in this body.” – Thomas Hobbes

45. “Now I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.” – Thomas Hobbes

46. “To agree with in opinion is to honor, as being a sign of approving his judgment and wisdom. To dissent, is dishonor, and an upbraiding of error.” – Thomas Hobbes

47. “Give an inch, he’ll take an ell.” – Thomas Hobbes

48. “The right of nature… is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life.” – Thomas Hobbes

49. “God put me on this Earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind that I’ll never die.” – Thomas Hobbes

50. “It’s not the pace of life I mind. It’s the sudden stop at the end.” – Thomas Hobbes

You might also like these Francis Bacon quotes from the iconic English philosopher.

More Thomas Hobbes quotes

51. “The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.” – Thomas Hobbes

52. “During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.” – Thomas Hobbes

53. “Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation.” – Thomas Hobbes

54. “Laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly.” – Thomas Hobbes

55. “In the state of nature profit is the measure of right.” – Thomas Hobbes

56. “Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which everyone in himself calleth religion”. – Thomas Hobbes

57. “A man’s conscience and his judgment is the same thing; and as the judgment, so also the conscience, may be erroneous.” – Thomas Hobbes

What did you learn from Thomas Hobbes quotes?

Did you find some quotes that you thought to be very insightful? Or maybe you found more that you didn’t agree with. Or you might be scratching your head altogether trying to figure out what these Thomas Hobbes quotes even mean.

Instead of jumping to judgment over his ideas, take time to consider what he is saying. Then form your own opinions and develop your beliefs and thoughts on the topic.

Where do you think any of these quotes could apply to life today and where would they be a total miss? Look for the way that life has changed from the 1600s and the impact that has had on knowledge.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Thomas Hobbes quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Stephanie Kirby
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