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143. The causes of the difference of wits are in the passions; and the difference of passions proceeds partly Differences from the different constitution of the body and sions. partly from different education. Those passions are chiefly the desire of power, riches, knowledge, or honour; all which may be reduced to the first, for riches, knowledge, and honour are but several sorts of power. He who has no great passion for any of these, though he may be so far a good man as to be free from giving offence, yet cannot possibly have either a great fancy or much judgment. To have weak passions is dulness, to have passions indifferently for every thing giddiness and distraction, to have stronger passions for any thing than others have is madness. Madness may be the excess of many passions; and the passions themselves, when they lead to evil, are degrees of it. He seems to have had some notion of what Butler is reported to have thrown out as to the madness of a whole people. "What argument for madness can there be greater, than to clamour, strike, and throw stones at our best friends? Yet this is somewhat less than such a multitude will do. For they will clamour, fight against, and destroy those by whom all their lifetime before they have been protected, and secured from injury. And if this be madness in the multitude, it is the same in every particular man.
144. There is a fault in some men's habit of discoursing which may be reckoned a sort of madness, which Unmeaning is when they speak words with no signification at language. all. "And this is incident to none but those that converse in questions of matters incomprehensible as the schoolmen, or in questions of abstruse philosophy. The common sort of men seldom speak insignificantly, and are therefore by those other egregious persons counted idiots. But to be assured their words are without any thing correspondent to them in the mind, there would need some examples; which if any man require, let him take a schoolman into his hands, and see if he can translate any one chapter concerning any difficult point, as the Trinity, the Deity, the nature of Christ, transubstantiation, free-will, &c., into any of the modern tongues, so as to make the same intelligible, or into any tolerable Latin, such as they were acquainted
* Lev., c. 8.
with that lived when the Latin tongue was vulgar." And after quoting some words from Suarez, he adds, "When men write whole volumes of such stuff, are they not mad, or intend to make others so?" y
145. The eleventh chapter of the Leviathan, on manners, by which he means those qualities of mankind which concern their living together in peace and unity, is full of Hobbes's caustic remarks on human nature. Often acute, but always severe, he ascribes overmuch to a deliberate and calculating selfishness. Thus the reverence of antiquity is referred to "the contention men have with the living, not with the dead, to these ascribing more than due that they may obscure the glory of the other." Thus, also, "to have received from one to whom we think ourselves equal, greater benefits than we can hope to requite, disposes to counterfeit love, but really to secret hatred, and puts a man into the estate of a desperate debtor, that in declining the sight of his creditor, tacitly wishes him where he might never see him more. For benefits oblige, and obligation is thraldom; and unrequitable obligation perpetual thraldom, which is to one's equal hateful." He owns, however, that to have received benefits from a superior, disposes us to love him; and so it does where we can hope to requite even an equal. If these maxims have a certain basis of truth, they have at least the fault of those of Rochefoucault; they are made too generally characteristic of mankind.
146. Ignorance of the signification of words disposes Ignorances men to take on trust not only the truth they know dice. not, but also errors and nonsense. For neither can be detected without a perfect understanding of words. "But ignorance of the causes and original constitution of right, equity, law, and justice, disposes a man to make custom and example the rule of his actions, in such manner as to think that unjust which it has been the custom to punish, and that just, of the impunity and approbation of which they can produce an example, or, as the lawyers which only use this false measure of justice barbarously call it, a precedent." "Men appeal from custom to reason, and from reason to custom, as it serves their turn, receding
from custom when their interest requires it, and setting themselves against reason as oft as reason is against them; which is the cause that the doctrine of right and wrong is perpetually disputed both by the pen and the sword; whereas the doctrine of lines and figures is not so, because men care not in that subject what is truth, as it is a thing that crosses no man's ambition, profit, or lust. For I doubt not, but if it had been a thing contrary to any man's right of dominion, or to the interest of men that have dominion, that the three angles of a triangle should be equal to two angles of a square, that doctrine should have been, if not disputed, yet by the burning of all books of geometry, suppressed, as far as he whom it concerned was able." This excellent piece of satire has been often quoted, and sometimes copied, and does not exaggerate the pertinacity of mankind in resisting the evidence of truth, when it thwarts the interests and passions of any particular sect or community. In the earlier part of the paragraph it seems not so easy to reconcile what Hobbes has said with his general notions of right and justice; since if these resolve themselves, as is his theory, into mere force, there can be little appeal to reason, or to any thing else than custom and precedent, which are commonly the exponents of power.
147. In the conclusion of this chapter of the Leviathan as well as in the next, he dwells more on the His theory of nature of religion than he had done in the former religion. treatise, and so as to subject himself to the imputation of absolute atheism, or at least of a denial of most attributes which we assign to the Deity. "Curiosity about causes,' he says, "led men to search out, one after the other, till they came to this necessary conclusion, that there is some eternal cause which men call God. But they have no more idea of his nature, than a blind man has of fire, though he knows that there is something that warms him. So by the visible things of this world and their admirable order, a man may conceive there is a cause of them, which men call God, and yet not have an idea or image of him in his mind. And they that make little inquiry into the natural causes of things are inclined to feign several kinds
* Lev., c. 11.
of powers invisible, and to stand in awe of their own imaginations. And this fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion, and in them that worship or fear that power otherwise than they do, superstition."
148. "As God is incomprehensible, it follows that we can have no conception or image of the Deity; and consequently all his attributes signify our inability or defect of power to conceive any thing concerning his nature, and not any conception of the same, excepting only this, that there is a God. Men that by their own meditation arrive at the acknowledgment of one infinite, omnipotent, and eternal God, choose rather to confess this is incomprehensible and above their understanding, than to define his nature by spirit incorporeal, and then confess their definition to be unintelligible." For concerning such spirits he holds that it is not possible by natural means only to come to the knowledge of so much as that there are such things.b 149. Religion he derives from three sources-the desire of men to search for causes, the reference of every thing that has a beginning to some cause, and the observation of the order and consequence of things. But the two former lead to anxiety, for the knowledge that there have been causes of the effects we see, leads us to anticipate that they will in time be the causes of effects to come; so that every man, especially such as are overprovident, is "like Prometheus, the prudent man, as his name implies, who was bound to the hill Caucasus, a place of large prospect, where an eagle feeding on his liver devoured as much by day as was repaired by night; and so he who looks too far before him, has his heart all day long gnawed by the fear of death, poverty, or other calamity, and has no repose nor pause but in sleep." This is an allusion made in the style of Lord Bacon. The ignorance of causes makes men fear some invisible agent, like the gods of the Gentiles; but the investigation of them leads us to a God eternal, infinite, and omnipotent. This ignorance, however, of second causes, conspiring with three other prejudices of mankind, the belief in ghosts, or spirits of subtile bodies, the devotion and reverence generally
a Lev., c. 12.
b Hum. Nat., c. 11.
shown towards what we fear as having power to hurt us, and the taking of things casual for prognostics, are altogether the natural seed of religion, which by reason of the different fancies, judgments, and passions of several men hath grown up into ceremonies so different that those which are used by one man are for the most part ridiculous to another. He illustrates this by a variety of instances from ancient superstitions. But the forms of religion are changed when men suspect the wisdom, sincerity, or love of those who teach it, or its priests. The remaining portion of the Leviathan, relating to moral and political philosophy, must be deferred to our next chapter.
150. The Elementa Philosophia were published by Hobbes in 1655, and dedicated to his constant patron the Earl of Devonshire. These are divided into three parts; entitled De Corpore, De Homine, and De Cive. And the first part has itself three divisions; Logic, the First Philosophy, and Physics. The second part, De Homine, is neither the treatise of Human Nature, nor the corresponding part of the Leviathan, though it contains many things substantially found there. A long disquisition on optics and the nature of vision, chiefly geometrical, is entirely new. The third part, De Cive, is the treatise by that name, reprinted, as far as I am aware, without alteration.
151. The first part of the first treatise, entitled Computatio sive Logica, is by no means the least valuable among the philosophical writings of Hobbes. In forty pages the subject is very well and clearly explained, nor do I know that the principles are better laid down, or the rules more sufficiently given, in more prolix treatises. Many of his observations, especially as to words, are such as we find in his English works, and perhaps his nominalism is more clearly expressed than it is in them. Of the syllogistic method, at least for the purpose of demonstration, or teaching others, he seems to have entertained a favourable opinion, or even to have held it necessary for real demonstration, as his definition shows. Hobbes appears to be aware of what I do not remember to have seen put by others, that in the natural process of reasoning, the minor premise commonly precedes the major. It is for want of
Lev., c. 12.
observed, that "the proper order is to
In Whately's Logic, p. 90, it is place the major premise first, and the