Hobbes Questions

ENGL 520

Dr. Fike


  1. One way to make sense of this long and difficult reading assignment is to attempt to assemble its terminology into a coherent picture.  In the following chart you will find Hobbes’s terms, and I invite you to weave them into a summary or flow chart of the author’s argument.  Remember, though, that the terms appear in no particular order.




  • Social contract
  • (Divine right of kings)
  • Fear
  • Self-interest
  • Sovereign
  • Faculties like reason and passion
  • Acquisition and institution
  • Presbyters, bishops, Pope



  • Materialism
  • Kingdom of Darkness
  • Passions
  • Liberty
  • State of nature
  • Civil war
  • Sin, truth, good and evil
  • Family
  • Generation and conquest
  • Competition, diffidence, glory



  • Institution and acquisition
  • Peace
  • Natural man
  • Civil law
  • Commonwealth
  • Natural rights
  • Prime mover
  • War
  • Bible
  • Monarchy, democracy, aristocracy




  1. The title of Hobbes’s book comes from Psalms 74:14, Isaiah 27:1, and Job 41.  Have a look at these passages and see if you can figure out whether his metaphor works as well as he surely hoped that it would in a book that is critical of metaphor.  For your ease of reference, here is a complete list from bible.com of passages mentioning the word “leviathan”:

·        Job 3:8:  May those who curse days [or the sea] curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan.

·        Job 41:1:  "Can you pull in the leviathan [possibly the crocodile] with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?

·        Psalm 74:14:  It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.

·        Psalm 104:26:  There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

·        Isaiah 27:1:  In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.


  1. Many of Hobbes’s contemporaries condemned him for a variety of reasons; this question focuses on two:




  1. Just as it is sensible to reverse engineer the reader responses of Hobbes’s contemporaries, the present question asks you to consider your own reactions.  From our vantage point and especially with respect to the elements of critical thinking, do you find Hobbes’s argument sound?  If not, what do you find objectionable here?  In particular, are there points where you find aporia (i.e., difficulties, contradictions, logical lapses)?  I suggest that you look especially on pages 246-47, 252-53, 259-61, and 270.