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Top 10 Thomas Hobbes Quotes on Human Nature and Society

Discover the profound wisdom of Thomas Hobbes, one of the Enlightenment philosophers. Explore his quotes on political philosophy and social contract theory for a deeper understanding of his influential ideas.
by The Blinkist Team | Nov 13 2023

Thomas Hobbes, a renowned English philosopher, is best known for his influential work “Leviathan,” published in 1651. This book remains relevant today as it delves into the nature of human beings and the necessity of a strong central authority to maintain order in society. Hobbes’ ideas on social contract theory and the state of nature have had a lasting impact on political philosophy and continue to shape our understanding of power and governance.


Thomas Hobbes, the renowned English philosopher, is known for his profound insights into human nature and society. His works have had a significant impact on political theory and continue to be studied and debated to this day. In this article, we have compiled the top 10 Thomas Hobbes quotes that shed light on his views on human nature, the social contract, and the role of government. These quotes offer a glimpse into Hobbes’ philosophy and provide thought-provoking perspectives on the nature of mankind and the dynamics of society. Whether you are a student of philosophy or simply interested in gaining a deeper understanding of human behavior, these quotes are sure to captivate and inspire you.

10 Powerful Thomas Hobbes Quotes That Will Make You Think

Curiosity is the lust of the mind.

Thomas Hobbes

This line emphasizes the importance of curiosity and its impact on our intellectual growth. It suggests that curiosity is a powerful force that drives us to seek knowledge and explore the world around us. By describing curiosity as the “lust of the mind,” the quote suggests that it is a strong and insatiable desire that compels us to constantly learn and discover. It highlights the idea that curiosity is not merely a passive trait, but a driving force that fuels our intellectual pursuits and leads to personal and academic growth.

I think, therefore matter is capable of thinking.

Thomas Hobbes

This quote emphasizes the concept that the ability to think is not limited to humans or conscious beings alone. It suggests that matter itself has the potential for thought and consciousness. By stating “I think, therefore matter is capable of thinking,” the quote challenges the traditional notion that only living beings possess the capacity for thought. It invites us to consider the possibility that consciousness may exist in various forms beyond what we typically perceive.

It is fairer to tax people on what they extract from the economy, as roughly measured by their consumption, than to tax them on what they produce for the economy, as roughly measured by their income.

Thomas Hobbes

This quote highlights the argument for a consumption-based tax system rather than an income-based tax system. It suggests that it is more equitable to tax individuals based on what they take out of the economy through their consumption, rather than taxing them solely on their income or production. The quote implies that taxing consumption is a fairer approach as it takes into account the actual benefits individuals receive from the economy, rather than just their ability to produce or earn income. This perspective challenges the traditional notion of income-based taxation and encourages a shift towards a system that considers the overall impact of individuals’ consumption on the economy.

Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes offers a provocative comparison between religions and pills in this quote. He suggests that religions should be accepted and embraced in their entirety, without questioning or analyzing their teachings. Just as pills are meant to be swallowed whole for their intended effects, Hobbes argues that religions should be accepted without hesitation or doubt. This quote highlights Hobbes’ belief in the importance of obedience and conformity in matters of faith.

No arts, no letters – no society.

Thomas Hobbes

This quote reminds us of the importance of the arts and letters in society. It suggests that without the presence of art and literature, society would be lacking in culture, creativity, and intellectual stimulation. The arts and letters encompass a wide range of disciplines, including visual arts, music, literature, and theater, all of which contribute to the richness and diversity of society. This quote emphasizes the role of the arts and letters in shaping and reflecting the values, ideas, and expressions of a society, highlighting their significance in fostering a well-rounded and vibrant community.

Where there is no common power, there is no law

Thomas Hobbes

This quote highlights the fundamental importance of a governing authority in maintaining order and enforcing laws within a society. It suggests that in the absence of a central power, chaos and lawlessness prevail. Without a common power to establish and enforce laws, there can be no structure or stability within a community. This quote emphasizes the necessity of a strong and effective government to ensure the well-being and safety of its citizens, as well as the functioning of a just and orderly society.

If nobody makes you do it, it counts as fun.

Thomas Hobbes

This quote, from Thomas Hobbes’ work, offers an interesting perspective on the nature of fun and personal agency. It suggests that true enjoyment comes from engaging in activities willingly, without any external pressure or obligation. According to Hobbes, when we choose to do something without any external influence, it becomes a genuine source of pleasure. This quote challenges the notion that fun is solely derived from external sources or societal expectations, emphasizing the importance of personal autonomy and choice in our pursuit of enjoyment.

There is no such thing as perpetual tranquillity of mind while we live here; because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense.

Thomas Hobbes

This line emphasizes the importance of accepting the inherent nature of life and the constant flux of our thoughts and emotions. It reminds us that tranquillity of mind is not a permanent state that can be achieved, but rather a continuous journey of navigating desires and fears. Life is dynamic and ever-changing, and it is through embracing this reality that we can find peace and contentment amidst the inevitable ups and downs.

If any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies.

Thomas Hobbes

This quote emphasizes the inevitable conflict that arises when two individuals have conflicting desires or interests. It suggests that when there is a limited resource or opportunity that both individuals desire, they are bound to become adversaries. This quote highlights the inherent competition and potential for animosity that arises in situations where there is a clash of interests. It serves as a reminder of the complex dynamics that can arise when individuals are vying for the same goal, and the potential for hostility that can result.

The original of all great and lasting societies consisted not in the mutual good will men had toward each other, but in the mutual fear they had of each other.

Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes offers a thought-provoking insight into the origins of societies. He suggests that the foundation of great and lasting societies is not rooted in the goodwill and cooperation among individuals, but rather in the mutual fear and suspicion they have towards one another. This quote highlights the importance of self-interest and self-preservation in shaping social structures. It reminds us that societies are often built on a delicate balance of power and fear, and that understanding this dynamic is crucial in navigating the complexities of human interactions.

In conclusion, Thomas Hobbes’ quotes on human nature and society offer profound insights into the complexities of human behavior and the dynamics of social structures. His ideas continue to resonate centuries later, challenging us to question our assumptions about the nature of humanity and the role of government. Whether you agree or disagree with Hobbes’ views, his words remind us of the importance of understanding the complexities of human nature and the need for a social contract to maintain order and stability in society. As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, these quotes serve as a reminder to critically analyze the forces that shape our lives and to strive for a society that is built on justice, peace, and cooperation.


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