Daily Archives: February 15, 2008

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

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.

Chap. VI.

[Continued from post on Thurday, Feb 7.]

5. A Proposition is said to be supposed, when, being not evident, it is nevertheless admitted for a Time, to the End, that, joyning to it other Propositions, we may conclude something; and to proceed from Conclusion to Conclusion, for a Trial whether the same will lead us into any absurd or impossible Conclusion; which if it do, then we know such Supposition to have been false.  

6. But if, running thorow [sic] many Conclusions, we come to none that are absurd, then we think the Proposition probable: likewise we think probable whatever Proposition we admit for Truth by Errour or Reasoning, or from trusting to other Men: And all such Propositions as are sdmitted by Trust of error, we are not said to know, but think them to be true; and the Admittance of them is called Opinion

7. And particularly, when the Opinion is admitted out of Trust to other Man, they are said to believe it; and their Admittance of it is called Belief, and sometimes Faith

8. It is either Science or Opinion which we commonly mean by the Word Conscience: for Men say that such and such a thing is true in or upon their Conscience; which they never do, when they think it doubtful; and therefore they know, or think they know it to be ture.  But Men, when they say things uopn their Concience , are not therefore presumed certainly to know the Truth of what they say: It remaineth then, that the Word is used by them that have an Opinion, not only of the Truth of the Thing, but also of their Knowledge of it, to which the Truth of the Proposition is consequent.  Conscience I therefore define to be Opinion of Evidence.

9. Belief, which is the admitting of Propositions upon Trust, in many Cases is not less free from Doubt, than perfect and manifest Knowledge : for as there is nothing whereof there is not some Cause; so, when there is Doubt, there must be some Cause thereof conceived.  Now there be many Things which we receive from Report of others, of which it is impossible to imagine any Cause of Doubt: for what can be opposed against the Consent of all Men, in Things they can know, and have no Cause to report otherwise then they are, (such as is great Part of our Histories) unless a Man would say that all the World had conspired to deceive him.  And thus much of Sense, Imagination, Discursion, Ratiocination, and Knowledge, which are the Acts of our Power cognitive, or conceptive.  That Power of the Mind which we call motive, differeth from the Power motive of the Body: for the Power motive of the Body is that by which it moveth other Bodies and we call Strength; but the Power motive of the Mind, is that by which the Mind giveth animal Moion to that Body wherein it existeth: the Acts hereof are our Affections and Passions, of which I am to speak in general. 


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Filed under 1680's, Eighteenth century, Philosophy, Posted by Matthew Williams