“And law was brought into the world for nothing else but to limit the natural liberty of particular men in such manner as they might not hurt, but assist one another, and join together against a common enemy.”
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Forgotten Books, 2008), at pp. 87, 147, 184
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (1588 – 1679) was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy. His 1651 book Leviathan established social contract theory, the foundation of most later Western political philosophy.
The desire to avoid the state of nature, as the place where the summum malum of violent death is most likely to occur, forms the polestar of his political reasoning. It suggests a number of laws of nature, although Hobbes is quick to point out that they cannot properly speaking be called “laws,” since there is no one to enforce them. Here are his first five laws.