Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Of the Difference of Manners by Thomas Hobbes

By manners, I mean not here, decency of behavior; as how one should salute one another, or how a man should wash his mouth, or pick his teeth before company, and such other points of small morals; but those qualities of mankind, that concern their living together in peace and unity. To which end we are to consider that the felicity of this life consisteth not in the repose of a mind satisfied. For there is no such finis ultimus, utmost arm, nor summun bonum, greatest good, as is spoken of in the books of the moral philosophers. Nor can a man any more live, whose desires are at an end, than he, whose senses and imaginations are at a stand.

Felicity is a continual progress of desire, from one object to another; the attaining of the former, being still but the way to the latter. The cause whereof is, that the object of man's desire, is not to enjoy once only, and for one instant of time; but to assure for ever, the way of his future desire. And therefore the voluntary actions, and inclinations of all men tend not only to the procuring, but also the assuring of a contented life; and differ in only one way: which ariseth partly from the diversity of passions, in divers men, partly from the difference of knowledge, or the opinion each one has of causes, which produce the effect desired...

Curiosity, or love of the knowledge of causes, draws a man from the consideration of the effect to seek the cause; and again the cause of that cause; till of necessity he must come to this thought at last, that there is some cause whereof there is no former cause, but is eternal; which is it men call God. So that it is impossible to make any profound inquiry into natural causes, without being inclined to believe there is one God eternal; though they cannot have any idea of him in their mind, answerable to his nature. For as a man that is born blind, hearing men talk of warming themselves by a fire, and being brought to warm himself by the same, may easily concieve and assure himself, there is somewhat there, which men call fire, and it is the cause of the heat he feels; but cannot imagine what it is like; nor have an idea of it in his mind such as they have who see it; so also by the visible things in 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 or no inquiry into the natural causes of things, yet from the fear that proceeds from the ignorance itself, of what it is that hath the power to do them much good or harm, are inclined to suppose, and feign themselves, several kinds of powers invisible; and to stand in awe of their own imaginations; and in time of distress to invoke them; as also in the time of expected good success, to give them thanks; making creatures of their own fancy their gods. By which means it hath come to pass, that from the innumerable variety of fancy, men have created in the world innumerable sorts of gods. 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.

And this seed of religion, having been observed by many, some of those that have observed it have been inclined thereby to nourish, dress, and form it into laws; and to add to it of their own invention, any opinion of the causes of future events by which they thought they should be best able to govern others, and make unto themselves the greatest use of their powers.


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