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Andrew C.

Interesting post!

Relevant side-notes:

In Behemoth, when Hobbes identifies the virtues of sovereigns, he names both "fortitude" and "liberality," which, in Leviathan, he identifies as species of magnanimity. Traditionally, magnanimity, fortitude, and liberality have all been understood as heroic virtues, and Hobbes himself indicates that fortitude is a virtue of heroes in the introduction to his translation of Homer.

It is also perhaps relevant that, in his "Answer to the Preface of Gondibert," Hobbes writes: "For there is in princes, and men of conspicuous power, anciently called heroes, a lustre and influence upon the rest of men, resembling that of the heavens." --- I remembered this quote because of the word "lustre," which reminded me of the dazzling quality some people have, which Hume and Smith suggest can lead others to admire them even if they don't deserve honor for their virtues.

(For the point I made about Behemoth, above, I'm largely indebted to J. Matthew Hoye's paper, "Obligation and Sovereign Virtue in Hobbes's Leviathan." It's a good paper, and if you're interested in reading about Hobbes's take on sovereign virtue further, I'd recommend it!)

Here is the quotation from Hobbes's Behemoth, which I mentioned, above:

"The virtues of sovereigns are such as tend to the maintenance of peace at home, and to the resistance of foreign enemies. Fortitude is a royal virtue; and though it be necessary in such private men as shall be soldiers, yet, for other men, the less they dare, the better it is both for the commonwealth and for themselves. Frugality (though perhaps you will think it strange) is also a royal virtue: for it increases the public stock, which cannot be too great for the public use, nor any man too sparing of what he has in trust for the good of others. Liberality also is a royal virtue: for the commonwealth cannot be well served without extraordinary diligence and service of ministers, and great fidelity to their Sovereign; [220]who ought therefore to be encouraged, and especially those that do him service in the wars. In sum, all actions and habits are to be esteemed good or evil by their causes and usefulness in reference to the commonwealth, and not by their mediocrity, nor by their being commended."

Eric Schliesser

Thank you for this, Andrew. That's very helpful.

Aaron Garrett

In re the instruction of princes and Hobbes, Noel Malcolm discusses it wonderfully here:


Eric Schliesser

That link seems to be broken, Aaron.
Also is there a written version of his argument?

Aaron Garrett

Sorry. It can be accessed here: https://philosophybites.com/2013/04/noel-malcolm-on-thomas-hobbes-leviathan-in-context.html

It's a condensed oral version of the argument in the extraordinary Introduction to the extraordinary critical edition to Leviathan. Malcolm is very enjoyable to listen to.

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