Leviathan Book Summary - Leviathan Book explained in key points
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Leviathan summary

Thomas Hobbes

or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil

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Brief summary

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is a foundational work in political philosophy, discussing the social contract theory and the role of government in maintaining order.
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    Leviathan
    Summary of 9 key ideas

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    Everything we understand about the world is based on properly assigning words to what we sense.

    The day is bright and sunny, with the sun warming your skin. If you were to describe this scene to a friend, how would you do so?

    Would you try dancing it? Probably not –  you’d likely choose words to describe it.

    Language and the meanings it can conjure are what help us understand our world. But how does language do so, exactly?

    First we must understand how our senses work. Through touch, sound and sight, we gain an understanding of the environment, as a result of “pressure” on the body’s nerves. The only things that can trigger nerves to stimulate our senses are objects with a physical “body,” like a rock we can touch, music we can hear or light we can see.

    After a sensory impulse, we are left with a mental image of an object, and can then elaborate our understanding of the object and its context. For instance, when looking at the hands of a clock, you can process the image to understand the hands are part of a timepiece.

    Being able to ascribe the right words to an experience is essential to reason. Without the proper language it would be impossible to accurately explain objects or concepts. Imagine if the only number you knew was “one.” What would you say when a clock struck a second time?

    Yet just having the right words isn’t enough; you need to put them together logically.

    But why is order important? The sequencing of words helps us create patterns of reason to determine what normally follows a certain action. In other words, reason shows us the correlation between things.

    If you know that an egg will break when it falls, this logical sequence of words shows us that it is also true that all eggs will break when they fall. So when you see an egg rolling close to a table’s edge, you can predict what will happen next.

    The information you derive from correlations lets you take certain actions to produce particular outcomes, and importantly, helps you predict the actions of others.

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    What is Leviathan about?

    Leviathan (1651) examines the relationship of society and rulers and is widely held as a classic work on the nature of statecraft. English philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that man’s natural inclination to war could only be tamed by a strong, centralized government. In these blinks, you’ll learn why Hobbes felt a commonwealth of men under a strong monarch was the only solution to securing peace and security for all.

    Leviathan Review

    Leviathan (1651) is a seminal work in political philosophy that remains relevant today. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It introduces the social contract theory, which has influenced modern political thought.
    • The book provides a comprehensive analysis of human nature and the role of government in maintaining order.
    • Its thought-provoking ideas and timeless wisdom make it an essential read for anyone interested in politics and philosophy.

    Dive into the fascinating world of Leviathan and expand your understanding of political thought.

    Best quote from Leviathan

    Mankind has a perpetual and restless desire for power, a desire that ceases only in death.

    —Thomas Hobbes
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    Who should read Leviathan?

    • Sociologists, historians and political scientists or students of political science
    • People interested in how certain forms of government came to be
    • Students examining the origins of law and early government

    About the Author

    English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was best known for his contributions to political thought. His writings, including Leviathan and De Cive (On the Citizen), are considered the cornerstones of Western political philosophy.

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    Leviathan FAQs 

    What is the main message of Leviathan?

    Leviathan explores the social contract theory and the role of government in maintaining order in society.

    How long does it take to read Leviathan?

    Reading Leviathan usually takes about 15 hours, while the Blinkist summary can be read in just 20 minutes.

    Is Leviathan a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Leviathan is a must-read for anyone interested in political philosophy and the foundations of modern political thought.

    Who is the author of Leviathan?

    The author of Leviathan is Thomas Hobbes.

    How many chapters are in Leviathan?

    Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes consists of 47 chapters. The chapters are

    1. Of Man
    2. Of Sense
    3. Of Imagination
    4. Of Speech
    5. Of Reason and Science
    6. Of the Interior Beginnings of Voluntary Motions
    7. Of the Ends or Resolutions of Discourse
    8. Of the Virtues
    9. Of the Several Subjects of Knowledge
    10. Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness
    11. Of the Difference of Manners
    12. Of Religion
    13. Of the Natural Condition of Mankind
    14. Of the First and Second Natural Laws, and of Contracts
    15. Of Other Laws of Nature
    16. Of Persons, Authors, and Things Personated
    17. Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a Commonwealth
    18. Of the Rights of Sovereigns by Institution
    19. Of the Several Kinds of Commonwealth by Institution
    20. Of Dominion Paternal and Despotical
    21. Of the Liberty of Subjects
    22. Of Systems Subject, Political and Private
    23. Of the Public Ministers of Sovereign Power
    24. Of the Nutrition and Procreation of a Commonwealth
    25. Of Counsellors and Councils
    26. Of Civil Laws
    27. Of Crimes, Excuses, and Extenuations
    28. Of Punishments and Rewards
    29. Of Those Things That Weaken or Tend to the Dissolution of a Commonwealth
    30. Of the Office of the Sovereign Representative
    31. Of the Kingdom of God by Nature
    32. Of the Principles of Christian Politics
    33. Of the Number, Antiquity, Scope, Authority, and Interpreters of the Books of Holy Scripture
    34. Of the Signification of Spirit, Angel, and Inspiration in the Books of Holy Scripture
    35. Of the Signification in Scripture of the Kingdom of God, of Holy, Sacred, and Sacrament
    36. Of the Word of God and of Prophets
    37. Of Miracles and Their Use
    38. Of the Signification in Scripture of Eternal Life, Hell, Salvation, the World to Come, and Redemption
    39. Of the Signification in Scripture of the Word Church
    40. Of the Rights of the Kingdom of God in Abraham, Moses, the High Priests, and the Kings of Judah
    41. Of the Office of Our Blessed Saviour
    42. Of Power Ecclesiastical
    43. Of What Is Necessary for a Man's Reception into the Kingdom of Heaven
    44. Of Spiritual Darkness from Misinterpretation of Scripture
    45. Of Demonology and Other Relics of the Religion of the Gentiles
    46. Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy and Fabulous Traditions, and
    47. Of the Benefit That Proceeds from Such Darkness, and to Whom It Accrues.

    How many pages are in Leviathan?

    Leviathan has approximately 736 pages.

    When was Leviathan published?

    Leviathan was published in 1651.

    What to read after Leviathan?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Leviathan, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes
    • Second Treatise of the Government by John Locke
    • How to Be a Leader by Plutarch
    • Politics by Aristotle
    • The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    • Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault
    • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
    • The Republic by Plato
    • 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
    • Fascism by Madeleine Albright