Lists 02 … Thomas Hobbes

Hume’s list of the things people do to each other cannot, does not – of course – come up to Hobbes’ famous list of adjectives that describe the life of primitive man before he cooperated to form governments.

Note Well: There are several lists here, not only the world famous “life of man” adjectives, but also the causes of war triplet [Competition, Diffidence (suspicion and fear that rise from lack of trust), and Glory], and the magnificent list of what men lack  in the primitive state of war of all against all (from “no place for Industry” to no “Society”) to “worst of all, continuall feare (sic), and danger of violent death”.

I’ll take you back to the whole passage because Hobbes kindly gives us “the principall causes of quarrell” and a description of the war of all against all that guarantees the misery and wretched poverty of primitive (pre-government) man. Our American Tea Party Patriots seem to want for some reason to return to that sorry condition.

I keep Hobbes’ spelling and punctuation, and quote at length because no small part of the pleasure of reading Hobbes is in the dramatic flow of his paragraphs.

Read ’em aloud, you’ll feel it:

“So that in the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarell. First, Competition: Secondly, Diffidence; thirdly, Glory. The first maketh men invade for Gain; the second, for Safety; and the third for Reputation. The first use Violence to make themselves Masters of other mens persons, wives, children and cattell; the second to defend them; the third for trifles as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons, or by reflexion in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name.

” Hereby it is manifest that during the time that men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. For Warre consisteth not in Battell only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to contend by Battell is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of Time is to be considered in the nature of Warre; as it is in the nature of Weather. For as the nature of foul weather, lyeth not in a showre of two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many days together: So the nature of War, consisteth not in actual fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is PEACE.

“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth;

no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea;

no commodious building;

no Instruments of moving and removing things as require much force;

no Knowledge of the face of the Earth;

no account of Time;

no Arts;

no Letters;

no Society;

and which is worst of all, continuall feare and danger of violent death;

And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chap XIII, Of the NATURALL CONDITION of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery. [62]

On Lists 01

We like the rhetorical use of lists to emphasize a mood or feeling, to extend and expand on an idea, to embellish and elaborate an emotion or idea by pleasing our mental ear with a little musical cache of words, and etc. etc.

Here’s the instance that raises this topic this AM.

From Hume’s Dialogues on Natural Religion Part X.

The following grim list is from a character in the dialogue, Philo by name, who is arguing that “society” (here, structures like government) is the source of grave woes, woes only barely less than the woes men would bring on themselves by dissolving society:

“Man is the greatest enemy of man. Oppression, injustice, contempt, contumely, violence, sedition, war, calumny, treachery, fraud; by these they mutually torment each other; and they would soon dissolve that society which they had formed, were it not for the dread of greater ills, which must attend their separation.”

Oppression, injustice, contempt, contumely, violence, sedition, war, calumny, treachery, fraud …”

Which list reminds us of Hobbes’ adjectives on the life of primitive man … next time

Meanwhile we remind ourselves to say a few words next time about contumely, a word we need but rarely hear, here in the ATL.

The Minds of Others … Visit Blog