Structured discussion on statements from Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan

Dr Philippe Martin

This structured discussion represents some statements from the first five chapters of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (which is used as an example by the TextOp project; I did not find the motivation to fully read past the first five chapters). I have represented (i) a few definitions (essentially to illustrate how this can be done), and (ii) some general assertions that may be controversial and can be argued against (this includes arguments given for those general assertions and does not include assertions about was God has done or can do because I believe there is no way to give a rational argument for or against such assertions; by "general" I here mean "possibly usable to solve a not-yet-encountered problem").
(Click here for a more elaborated structured discussion about some political ideas regarding democracy is accessible here).

In July 2006 the representations below will be loaded into WebKB-2 and anyone will be able to add arguments or objections on these general assertions and their arguments (some concepts from the ontology of WebKB-2 are already accessible: see the hyperlinked isolated words and click on them). See the Structured discussions' home page for explanations of the goals and syntax of such argumentation graphs.
By default, the statements and relations below refer to statements/relationships expressed by Thomas Hobbes (T.H., "th") but interpreted by Philippe Martin (P.M, "pm"); for relations, this default could be made explicit via the string "(th pm)" after the destination of a relation. The use of the string "(pm)" explicits which relations and statements I have added (those relations/statements are mine, they are not my interpretation of T.H.'s sentences).

Table of Contents


  definition: "the art whereby God hath made and governs the world",
  subtype of: wn#nature.existence (pm);  //note: "wn" is for WordNet

"wisdom is acquired, not by reading books but by knowing men";

"to govern a whole nation, one must know men/mankind";

"to know men, one must observe and know oneself"
    ("whosoever looks into himself and considers what he does when he does think,
      opine, reason, hope,fear, etc., and upon what grounds, shall thereby read and 
      know what are the thoughts and passions of all other men upon the like occasions"
        argument: "the thoughts and passions of one man are similar to those of 
                   another man"

The First Part: Of Man

Chapter I: Of Sense

"there is no conception in a man's mind which has not at first, totally or by parts,
 been begotten upon the organs of sense"
   opposition: "imaginations rise of themselves, and have no cause"
               "imaginations rise most commonly from the will"
               "good thoughts are blown (inspired) or poured (infused) into a man by God"
               "evil thoughts are blown (inspired) or poured (infused) by the Devil"
               "senses receive the species of things and deliver them to the common sense";

Chapter II: Of Imagination

  definition: "the decaying of sense",
  subtype of: wn#remembering (pm);
  definition: "the result of the decaying of sense",
  subtype of: wn#memory (pm),
  result of: th#memory;

"when a thing lies still, unless somewhat else stirs it, it will lie still for ever"
   corrective_reformulation: "the effects of atomic decay and quantum mechanic related variations are negligible from a human perspective" 
   argument: "nothing can change itself";

"our dreams are the reverse of our waking imaginations"
  example: "as anger causes heat in some parts of the body when we are awake; similarly,
             when we sleep the overheating of the same parts may cause anger and raise up
             in the brain the imagination of an enemy";

"From the ignorance of how to distinguish dreams, and other strong fancies, from vision
 and sense, did arise the greatest part of the religion of the Gentiles in time past";

"If the superstitious fear of spirits were taken away, and with it prognostics 
 from dreams, false prophecies, and many other things depending thereon, by which
 crafty ambitious persons abuse the simple people, men would be would be much more
 fitted than they are for civil obedience";

Chapter III: Of the Consequence or Train of Imagination

  subtype of: wn#train_of_thought (pm);

Chapter IV: Of Speech

Chapter V: Of Reason and Science

  subtype of: wn#decision (pm),
  cause: "using terms without having defined them" 
         "not always using the same meaning for a term"
         "using a term in a way that is not compatible with its definition" 
         "relying on untested/unproven/received knowledge";

"exact definitions can be given to terms"
  extended_specialization: "exact definitions should be given to terms",
  corrective_specialization: "mathematical concepts can be given exact definitions" (pm);
  objection: "non-mathematical concepts cannot be given complete/exact definitions" (pm);

"exact definitions should be given to terms"
  corrective_specialization: "terms should be defined as precisely as they can
                              when the advantages of precision outweight the 
                              disadvantages of spending time to precise the terms" (pm);

Chapter VI: Of the Interior Beginnings of Voluntary Motions, Commonly Called the PasSions; and the Speeches by Which They Are Expressed

Chapter VII: Of the Ends or Resolutions of Discourse

Chapter VIII: Of the Virtues Commonly Called Intellectual; and Their Contrary Defects

Chapter IX: Of the Several Subject of Knowledge

  subtype of: wn#cognition (pm),
  subtype:  th#knowledge_of_fact  knowledge_of_the_consequence_of_one_affirmation_to_another;

Chapter X: Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour and Worthiness

Chapter XI: Of the Difference of Manners

Chapter XII: Of Religion

Hobbes refers to the Cosmological argument: "there must be one First Mover; that is, a first and an eternal cause of all things; which is that which men mean by the name of God". This kind of argument is used in much more detail in John Locke's Chapter 9 of his essay "Of our Threefold Knowledge of Existence" which is at the origin of this structured discussion about God's existence.

Chapter XIII: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery

Chapter XIV: Of the First and Second Natural Laws, and of Contracts

Chapter XV: Of Other Laws of Nature

Chapter XVI: Of Persons, Authors, and Things Personated

The Second Part: Of Commonwealth

The Third Part: Of a Christian Commonwealth

The Fourth Part: Of the Kingdom of Darkness