Item of the Day: Hobbes’s Tripos (1684)

Full Title:

Hobbs’s Tripos, In Three Discourses: The first, Humane Nature, Or the Fundamental Elements of Policy. Being a Discovery of the Faculties, Acts and Passions of the Soul of Man, from their Original Causes, according to such Philosophical Principles as are not commonly known, or asserted. The second, De Corpore Politico, Or the Elements of Law, Moral and Politick, with Discourses upon several Heads, as of the Law of Nature, Oaths and Covenants; several kinds of Governments, with the Changes and revolution of them. The third, Of Liberty and Necessity; Wherein all Controversie, concerning Predestination, Election, Free-will, Grace, Merits, Reprobation, is fully decided and cleared. The Third Edition.

Written by Thomas Hobbes. Printed in London for Matt. Gilliflower, Henry Rogers, Booksellers in Westminster Hall, and Tho. Fox next the Fleece Tavern in Fleetstreet, and at the Angel in Westminster-Hall, 1684.

Chapter One of “Humane Nature: or the Fundamental Elements of Policy”:

The true and perspicuous Explication of the Elements of Laws Natural and Politick (which is my present Scope) dependeth upon the Knowledge of what is Humane Nature, what is Body Politick, and what it is we call a Law; concerning which Points, as the Writings of Men from Antiquity down wards have still increased, so also have the Doubts, and concerning the same: And seeing that true Knowledge begetteth not Doubt nor Controversie, but Knowledge, it is manifest from the present Controversies, That they which have heretofore written thereof, have not well understood their own Subject.

2. Harm I can do none, though I err no less than they; for I shall leave Men but as they are, in Doubt and Dispute: but, intending not to take any Principle upon Trust, but only to put Men in Mind of what they know already, or may know by their own Experience, I hope to erre the less; and when I do, it must proceed from too hasty Concluding, which I will endeavour as much as I can to avoid.

3. On the other side, if Reasoning aright win not Consent, which may very easily happen, from them that being confident of their own Knowledg weigh not what is said, the Fault is not mine but theirs; for as it is my Part to shew my Reasons, so it is theirs to bring Attention.

4. Mans Nature is the Summ of his natural Faculties and Powers, and the Faculties of Nutrition, Motion, Generation, Sense, Reason, &c. These Powers we do unanimously call Natural, and are contained in the Definition of Man, under these words Animal and Rational.

5. According to the two principal Parts of Man, I divide his Faculties into two forts, Faculties of the Body, and Faculties of the Mind.

6. Since the minute and distinct Anatomy of the Powers of the Body is nothing necessary to the present Purpose, I will only summ them up in these Three Heads, Power Nutritive, Power Motive, and Power Generative.

7. Of the Powers of the Mind there be two Sorts, Cognitive, Imaginative, or Conceptive and Motive; the first of Cognitive.

For the understanding of what I mean by the Power Cognitive, we must remember and acknowledge that there be in our Minds continually certain Images or Conceptions of the Things wihtout us, insomuch that if a Man could be alive, and all the rest of the World annihilated, he should nevertheless retain the Image thereof; and all those Things which he had before seen or perceived in it; every one by his own Experience knowing, that the Absense or Destruction of things once imagined doth not cause the Absence or Destruction of the Imagination it self; This Imagery and Representation of our Conception, Imagination, Ideas, Notice, or Knowledg of them; and the Faculty or Power by which we are capable of such Knowledge, is that I here call Cognitive Power, or Conceptive, the Power of Knowing or Conceiving.

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Filed under 1680's, Philosophy, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

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