The Elements of Law/Part I/Chapter 12

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The Elements of Law
by Thomas Hobbes
Part I, Chapter 12

Chapter 12: How by Deliberation From Passions Proceed Men's Actions[edit]

1. It hath been declared already, how external objects cause conceptions, and conceptions appetite and fear, which are the first unperceived beginnings of our actions: for either the action immediately followeth the first appetite, as when we do any thing upon a sudden; or else to our first appetite there succeedeth some conception of evil to happen unto us by such actions, which is fear, and withholdeth us from proceeding. And to that fear may succeed a new appetite, and to that appetite another fear, alternately, till the action be either done, or some accident come between, to make it impossible; and so this alternate appetite and fear ceaseth. This alternate succession of appetite and fear, during all the time the action is in our power to do, or not to do, is that we call DELIBERATION; which name hath been given it for that part of the definition wherein it is said that it lasteth so long, as the action whereof we deliberate, is in our power; for so long we have liberty to do or not to do: and deliberation signifieth the taking away of our own liberty.

2. Deliberation therefore requireth in the action deliberated two conditions: one, that it be future; the other, that there be hope of doing it, or possibility of not doing it. For appetite and fear are expectations of the future; and there is no expectation of good without hope; nor of evil without possibility. Of necessaries therefore there is no deliberation. In deliberation the last appetite, as also the last fear, is called WILL (viz.) the last appetite will to do; the last fear will not to do, or will to omit. It is all one therefore to say will and last will: for though a man express his present inclination and appetite concerning the disposing of his goods, by word or writing; yet shall it not be accounted his will, because he hath liberty still to dispose of them otherwise; but when death taketh away that liberty, then it is his will.

3. VOLUNTARY actions and omissions are such as have beginning in the will; all other are INVOLUNTARY or MIXED. Voluntary such as a man doth upon appetite or fear. involuntary such as he doth by necessity of nature, as when he is pushed, or falleth, and thereby doth good or hurt to another; mixed, such as participate of both; as when a man is carried to prison he is pulled on against his will, and yet goeth upright voluntary, for fear of being trailed along the ground: insomuch that in going to prison, going is voluntary. to the prison, involuntary. The example of him that throweth his goods out of a ship into the sea, to save his person, is of an action altogether voluntary. for, there is nothing there involuntary, but the hardness of the choice, which is not his action, but the action of the winds; what he himself doth, is no more against his will, than to fly from danger is against the will of him that seeth no other means to preserve himself.

4. Voluntary also are the actions that proceed from sudden anger, or other sudden appetite, in such men as can discern of good and evil; for in them the time precedent is to be judged deliberation. For then also he deliberateth in what cases it is good to strike, deride, or do any other action proceeding from anger or other such sudden passion.

5. Appetite, fear, hope, and the rest of the passions are not called voluntary; for they proceed not from, but are the will; and the will is not voluntary. For a man can no more say he will will, than he will will will, and so make an infinite repetition of the word will; which is absurd, and insignificant.

6. Forasmuch as will to do is appetite, and will to omit, fear; the causes of appetite and of fear are the causes also of our will. But the propounding of benefits and of harms, that is to say, of reward and punishment, is the cause of our appetite and of our fears, and therefore also of our wills, so far forth as we believe that such rewards and benefits, as are propounded, shall arrive unto us. And consequently, our wills follow our opinions, as our actions follow our wills. In which sense they say truly and properly that say the world is governed by opinion.

7. When the wills of many concur to some one and the same action, or effect, this concourse of their wills is called CONSENT; by which we must not understand one will of many men, for every man hath his several will; but many wills to the producing of one effect. But when the wills of two divers men produce such actions as are reciprocally resistances one to the other, this is called CONTENTION: and being upon the persons of one another, BATTLE; whereas actions proceeding from consent are mutual AID.

8. When many wills are involved or included in the will of one or more consenting, (which how it may be, shall be hereafter declared) then is that involving of many wills in one or more called UNION.

9. In deliberations interrupted, as they may be by diversion to other business, or by sleep, the last appetite of such part of the deliberation is called INTENTION, or purpose.