Part 1 - Table of Contents - Chapters I to V
      Part 2 - Table of Contents - Chapters VI and VII 
    Part 3 - Table of Contents - Chapters VIII to XI 

This electronic text is used with the kind permission of Jon Roland of the
Constitution Society and as electronically published in:

The text is the translation of the "A Political Treatise" by   A. H. Gosset
(based on Bruder's 1843 Latin Text), as printed  by Dover Publications
(NY: 1955) in Book II.  This is, the book assures us, "an unabridged and 
unaltered republication of the Bohn Library edition originally published 
by George Bell and Sons in 1883.''  As it is more than a century old, it is 
incontestably in the public domain. 

Title Page - Bk II:279.




Edited with an Introduction
by R. H. M. Elwes
Translated by A. H. Gosset
Published by G. Bell & Son

Rendered into HTML and Text
by Jon Roland of the Constitution Society 

JBY Notes:

1.  For  the kind  permission  to  use  the  text  see  above.   JBY added
     sentence numbers.

2.  [2:4] - Chapter Number:Paragraph Number.
     Sentence numbers, added by JBY, are shown thus (zz:yy:xx).

               zz = Chapter Number.
            yy = Paragraph Number.
            xx = Sentence Number.

3.  Page  numbers  are  those  of  Book II.

4.  Citation abbreviations.

5.  (Footnote or the Latin word),
     {JBY Comment or endnote}.

6.  Please   e-mail   errors,   clarification  requests,  disagreement, or
     suggestions  to

7.  There  is  much  in  this  work  that  you  will  not agree with  or  even
     think   nonsensealthough   keep  in  mind  that  it  was  written  300

     years ago.  The  work  is hopelessly outdated; its main value is that it      Bk.XII:310- 312.
     shows  Spinozistic ideas at play in the formation of advanced modern     Hobbes: Leviathan.       
     governments  and  how  they cope with the passions of men. Partake  
     of  the  work  (and my commentaries)  as  you  would
a pomegranate;
     relish  the  flesh,  but  spit-out  the  pits.
 See Introductions by Durant,
     Hampshire, and Nadler.

8.  Spinoza's  purpose  in  writing  the  Treatise  is  to  design  a  govern- 
     ment  that  will  best  cope with  the  passions   of  men;  but for these
     passions   there   would   be   no   need   for   political   parties,   only
     administrative offices—running the Post Office.   See also Title Page,
     [7:2], and Self-interest.

9.  For  a  review  of  Spinoza's  "A Political Treatise"  see  F. POLLOCK'S
     "Life and Philosophy of Spinoza
 (1880),  Book XII,  Chap X,  Pg. 310.
     See also Elwes's Introduction EL:[66 & 67]:xxxii.

10. Where  applicable, I think it appropriate to substitute the term "State"
     for  "Clan"  or  "City"  so  as  to  understand  the idea in today's terms.
     Likewise,  where  applicable, substitute "Country" for "Dominion" and
     "Congress" or "Parliament" for "Council." For antecedents to the USA
     Constitution see 8:29, and 9:1ff.

Durant's Introduction to The Political Treatise. 
From Will and Ariel Durant's "The Story of Civilization: Part VIII",
Chapter XXII - Spinoza.
ISBN: 0671012150,1963, Pages 650-653.
{I have changed Durant's spelling of God in accordance with SpinScript, Note 4.}

page 650
                                                VIII. THE STATE

[1]  Perhaps, when Spinoza had finished the Ethics, he felt that, like most Christian saints, he had formulated a philosophy for the use and salvation of the individual rather than for the guidance of citizens in a state. So, toward 1675, he set himself to consider man as a "political animal," and to apply reason to the problems of society. He began his fragmentary Tractatus politicus with the same resolve that he had made in analyzing the passions—to be as objective as a geometer or a physicist:  

[2]  Since human nature is the material of politics, Spinoza felt that a study of the state should begin by considering the basic character of man. We might understand this better if we could imagine man before social organization modified his conduct by force, morality, and law; and if we would remember that underneath his general and reluctant submission to these socializing influences he is still agitated by the lawless impulses that in the "state of nature" were restrained only by fear of hostile power. Spinoza follows Hobbes and many others in supposing that man once existed in such a condition, and his picture of this hypothetical savage is almost as page 651 dark as in The Leviathan. In that Garden of Evil the might of the individual was the only right; nothing was a crime, because there was no law; and nothing was just or unjust, right or wrong, because there was no moral code. Consequently "the law and ordinance of Nature.., forbids nothing •.. and is not opposed to strife, hatred, anger, treachery, or in general anything that appetite suggests." (163) By "natural right," then—i.e., by the operations of "Nature" as distinct from the rules and laws of society—every man is entitled to whatever he is strong enough to get and to hold; and this is still assumed between species and between states; (164 +1) hence man has a "natural right" to use animals for his service or his food. (165)

[3]  Spinoza moderates this savage picture by suggesting that man, even in his first appearance on the earth, may have been already living in social groups. "Since fear of solitude exists in all men—because no one in solitude is strong enough to defend himself and procure the necessaries of life—it follows that men by nature tend towards social organization." (166) Men, then, have social as well as individualistic instincts, and society and the state have some roots in the nature of man. However and whenever it came about, men and families united in groups, and the "natural fight" or might of the individual was now limited by the right or might of the community. Doubtless men accepted these restrictions reluctantly, but they accepted them when they, learned that social organization was their most powerful tool for individual survival and development. So the definition of virtue as any quality that makes for survival—as "the endeavor to preserve oneself' (167+P22) —has to be enlarged to include any quality that makes for the survival of the group. Social organization, the state despite its restraints, civilization despite its artifices—these are the greatest inventions that man has made for his preservation and development.  
[4]  Therefore Spinoza anticipates Voltaire's answer to Rousseau: 

[5]  And Spinoza rejects also the other end of the law-less dream—the utopia of the philosophical anarchist: 

[6]  The purpose and function of the state should be to enable its members to live the life of reason.  

[7]  Consequently Spinoza renews his plea for freedom of speech, or at least of thought. But yielding, like Hobbes, to fear of theological fanaticism and strife, he proposes not merely to subject the church to state control, but to have the state determine what religious doctrines shall be taught to the people. Quandoque dormitat Homerus.

[8]  He proceeds to discuss the traditional forms of government.
As became a Dutch patriot resenting the invasion of Holland by Louis XIV, he had no admiration for monarchy, and he sharply counters Hobbes's absolutism: 

[9]  Aristocracy, as "government by the best," would be fine if the best were not subject to class spirit, violent faction, and individual or family greed. "If patricians.., were free from all passion, and guided by mere zeal for the public welfare..., no dominion could be compared with aristocracy. But experience itself teaches us only too well that things pass in quite a contrary manner." (172)

[10]  And so Spinoza, in his dying days, began to outline his hopes for democracy.
He who had loved the mob-murdered de Witt had no delusions about the multitude. "Those who have had experience of how changeful the temper of the people is, are almost in despair. For the populace is governed not by reason but by emotion; it is headlong in everything, and easily corrupted page 653 by avarice and luxury" (173) Yet "I believe democracy to be of all forms of government the most natural, and the most consonant with individual liberty. In it no one transfers his natural right so absolutely that he has no further voice in affairs; he only hands it over to the majority." (174) Spinoza proposed to admit to the suffrage all males except minors, criminals, and slaves. He excluded women because he judged them by their nature and their burdens to be less fit than men for deliberation and government. (175) He thought that ruling officials would be encouraged to good behavior and peaceful policies if "the militia should be composed of the citizens only, and none of them be exempted; for an armed man is more independent than a man unarmed. (176) The care of the poor, he felt, was an obligation incumbent on the society as a whole. (177) And there should be but a single tax: 

[11]  Then, just as he was entering upon the most precious part of his treatise, death took the pen from his hand.

Endnote TP1 - From Book 32; Hampshire:179-189—Politics and Religion:

Introduction to The Political Treatise:

[1]  In histories of political theory, particularly in English histories, he is often overshadowed by Hobbes, and sometimes appears only as the pupil of Hobbes. The extent of Hobbes' direct influence on him is a matter of inconclusive and largely unprofitable dispute; it was not the practice in the seventeenth century, as it is to-day, always to quote sources and influences (other than sacred or classical authorities), or to provide bibliographies; Hobbes is mentioned by name in the Letters, and his works were in Spinoza's library. It can be taken for certain that Spinoza read Hobbes carefully. It is equally certain that, however similar their conclusions in political theory, these conclusions were independently deduced from very different premises. They both argued that all men necessarily seek their own preservation {self-interest} and the indefinite extension of their power and liberty, and they both insisted that this proposition must be the starting-point of political theory; they both regarded peace and security as the end which all men pursue in political associations; peace and security can be maintained, and a war of all against all avoided, only by the vesting of superior power and superior means of coercion in some particular person or group of persons. Power, and not some moral notion {Golden Rule}, must be the fundamental concept in the study of societies and of the causes of their decline; all political policies must be judged by their effects on the distribution of power within the state, and by the effect of any particular page 180 distribution of power in avoiding anarchy, which is always for all men the greatest of evils. In recommending this amoral or naturalistic {Ayn Rand} approach to all political problems as the only possible approach, Hobbes and Spinoza are so far in complete agreement; to both of them appeals to ultimate moral notions {Ridley's Altruism} or to supernatural sanctions seemed a superstitious or dishonest playing with words. It is strictly meaningless to suppose that men have moral rights or duties, when men are conceived as natural objects {having no free-will} and without relation to the particular societies of which they are members; conceived as natural objects, each necessarily pursuing what seems to him the means of his preservation and liberty, they can only be said to have the right to do whatever they have the power to do. If we refuse to acknowledge their right to do something which they are able to do, the refusal is to be justified only by reference to the conventions {constitution} of their particular state or society; and their submission to these conventions in its turn will be justified by their overriding interest in the maintenance of society and in the avoidance of anarchy. To justify any moral or political decision to anyone must always be to show that the decision makes for his safety and happiness, either immediately or in the long run; no other kind of argument could be relevant.

[2]  So far Hobbes and Spinoza are in agreement; they were neither the first nor the last to argue that moral precepts and supernatural sanctions can and should be excluded from political arguments, and that all men in the last resort pursue what they conceive to be their interest, however  
page 181 deviously and ignorantly; this is one of the permanent or recurrent patterns of political theory; it is a point of view represented by sophists {reasoning adroitly and deceptively attractively rather than soundly} and sceptics in Plato's dialogues and more than ever commonplace in the twentieth century. What is more distinctive of Hobbes and Spinoza is the argument that political consent and obedience can be justified as rational self-interest if, and only if, obedience {to a constitution} can be shown to be the acceptance of the lesser of two evils, anarchy and insecurity being always the greater evil. All rational political argument must involve the calculation of the lesser of two or more evils from among the practical possibilities; the fundamental mistake of theorists and ideologues is to look for absolute justifications and immutable principles; the defence of abstract principles, whether religious or purely moral, leads to irresoluble conflicts, but rationally self-seeking men can achieve peace by realistic compromises based on a clear estimate of the strength of their rivals; and peace is the supreme end of political associations. But at this point the agreement between Hobbes and Spinoza ceases; for the reasons, expressed and unexpressed, which led them to make a condition of peace the supreme criterion in all political decisions, were largely different {a remarkable twist}, following the differences in their logic and general philosophy; and the meaning which they attached to 'freedom', and the emphasis they placed upon it, was very different. According to Hobbes a man is free in so far as he can in fact satisfy his desires, whatever these desires may be; to be free is to do what one wants, desires and impulses being mechanically {deterministically, no free-will} page182 or physiologically {pineal gland} determined; the negation of freedom is frustration, whether the frustration is the result of natural causes or is caused by other men {both are natural causes}. Intelligence in practical matters is simply the calculation of the most efficient means to the satisfaction of natural needs; reason must always be the slave of the passions, which are the effects of physical causes. Both as metaphysician and political theorist, Hobbes was a pessimist, and his philosophy provides no visions of salvation or of the good life; the most that can be achieved by prudence and clear thinking is some temporary shelter from pain and fear; and peace and security is no more than the negative condition of not being persecuted or destroyed. Hobbes generally appears as the pessimistic philosopher of realistic conservatism, the defender of the established order, whatever it may be, against the restless claims of individual ambition and conscience; he upholds order and central organization, so that competition shall not lead to war and death.

[3]  The practical tendency of Spinoza's naturalistic approach to politics is so different as to be almost diametrically opposed to Hobbes'. They can be grouped together only so long as one chooses to separate their political from their general philosophy. For Spinoza the exercise of reason is not merely the means to self-preservation and the satisfaction of desire, but constitutes in itself the supreme end to which everything else must be a means; and reason is not, as in Hobbes, the empirical calculation of probabilities, but the reconstruction by logical reasoning of the necessary order of the universe
{to know G-D}. The criterion by which page 183 a political organization is to be judged is whether it impedes or makes possible the free man's rational love and understanding of Nature. This is a much wider criterion than Hobbes', involving a less negative conception of security and freedom, and it associated Spinoza with the enemies of authoritarianism. As the necessary consequence of his general philosophy, he was an early advocate of the great liberal conception of toleration and freedom of thought. In interpreting Spinoza's political theory, as in interpreting his moral theory, one must both maintain the balance and show the connexion between his harshly scientific and amoral starting-point and his idealistic vision of a free society; there is always a tendency for the determinist to obscure the idealist, or for the idealist to obscure the determinist.

[4]  All men are striving to increase their own pleasure and vitality, but they must recognize that mutual aid is necessary for their survival; nothing is so useful to a man as other men. They therefore find themselves entering into the written and unwritten compacts which are the cement of society. Any law or social convention
{Constitution} can, in the nature of things, be observed and obeyed only as long as it seems expedient to the people concerned to obey it; its claim to my allegiance disappears as soon as it ceases to contribute, directly or indirectly, to my safety and happiness. A society remains safe as long as the persons having an interest in supporting its laws or conventions are, or seem to be, more powerful than those having an interest in overthrowing page 184 them. The mere existence of a social convention or law cannot either add to or subtract from my natural right, founded on the most elementary necessity of nature, to consult only my own safety and happiness. Spinoza at this point goes even further than Hobbes in refusing to attach any meaning to the words 'right' and 'duty' in their purely moral sense; he is more consistent in regarding the laws and conventions of a society or state as deriving their authority and claim to obedience solely from their usefulness in serving the essential interests of the individuals concerned; as soon as a particular law or convention ceases to safeguard, or begins to threaten, the safety or happiness of a particular individual, that individual is thereby released from any obligation to conform to it; the mere fact that he had previously undertaken to conform to it does not constitute a binding obligation which overrides his personal needs and interests; for nothing can ever, either in principle or in practice, override these needs and interests.

[5]  Spinoza's analysis of political consent is easily misunderstood because he persists in using words like 'right' and 'obligation' in a purely non-moral, and therefore unfamiliar, sense; it is paradoxical to say that everyone has a right to disregard a contract solemnly made as soon as it becomes disadvantageous; according to some well-established uses of 'right', this statement is a contradiction in terms. It must be remembered that no moral terms, in the ordinary sense of 'moral', have any place in Spinoza's terminology, since such moral terms in their ordinary connotation are applicable only to human beings, conceived
page 185 as free agents and not as causally determined natural objects. His analysis is less misleadingly expressed when the word 'right', with its obstinately moral associations, is omitted altogether, and 'power' is substituted; for, although he explicitly defines 'right' in terms of 'power', it is very easy to overlook this re-definition, simply because it is contrary to ordinary usage; as soon as 'right' is replaced by 'power', the argument becomes a clear positivistic {a philosophical system concerned with positive facts and phenomena, and excluding speculation upon ultimate causes or origins} analysis of the reasons for obedience to authority. 

[6]  Contracts, treaties, promises, and oaths of allegiance are in themselves no more than words; but, in any state or organized society, there will necessarily be individuals who possess certain powers of coercion and enforcement; unless someone actually possesses the means of coercion and can in fact make his will effective against all opposition, there must be a state of anarchy and no stable society exists. The actual testable power of this sovereign person, or group of persons, is the sole and sufficient justification of his or their authority and of their claim to obedience. As soon as it is shown in experience that the sovereign authority has in fact lost its power to subdue opposition and to make its will effective, it thereby forfeits its authority as sovereign; all appeals to constitutions or to contracts are irrelevant; the legitimacy of an authority cannot be separated from its effectiveness in action. The sovereign serves my interests as a member of society simply because he is sovereign in fact and action, and only as long as he remains so; he serves my interest, because the fact of his overwhelming power
page 186 prevents anarchy and insecurity. In the natural state of anarchy and outside an organized society, my power and freedom are limited by my fear of attack by others, and by my natural inability to supply all my own needs and wants; I in effect choose the lesser evil, a smaller loss of power and freedom, when within a civil society I submit to the restraints imposed by the sovereign authority. Within an organized society I am protected against violence and, by mutual aid and the proper division of labour, my natural needs and wants are supplied. Only under extreme provocation can it be reasonable to revolt against the civil authority in defence of my personal interests or loyalties; for the loss of the peace and security of civil society nearly always involves a greater loss of my power and freedom than is involved in any possible alter- native, however disagreeable. There may be extreme cases in which the sovereign power tries to coerce me into doing 'things abhorrent to human nature' and in which it directly threatens my life; under such conditions revolt may be the lesser evil. But the ordinary limitations on my power and freedom, which the law with its threats and penalties imposes, are accepted by the reasonable man, as long as the authority imposing the laws proves itself effective in eliminating armed opposition and in keeping the peace. The person or persons who possess sovereign power will naturally seek to extend their power and liberty of action as far as they can without provoking a revolt powerful enough to dislodge them; if they are reasonable men, they will calculate at what point they must restrain the exercise page 187 of their power in order not to provoke an effective body of their subjects into revolt; this is the proper art of government. When the sovereign authority becomes so oppressive as to create sufficiently numerous and powerful enemies, it will in fact have ceased to be the sovereign authority; a landslide of disobedience will begin, as the members of the society observe that effective power is beginning to pass into other hands.

[7]  The argument by which Spinoza justifies obedience to civil or state authority as reasonable is essentially the same argument as that by which in this century {millennium} obedience to international authority is generally commended; it is the familiar argument of 'collective security', which is an appeal to enlightened self-interest. The only method of avoiding war, whether between individuals or nations, is to gather a group of individuals or of nations, which will in fact possess sufficient force to deter any potential aggressor. The internationalists who used this argument assumed that all nations in fact pursue the indefinite extension of their own power and freedom of action; their starting point was the same as Spinoza's. It is in the interest of any nation to accept the decisions of the international authority, even if this involves some sacrifice of national sovereignty and independence, in order to avoid the greater loss of power and freedom which is involved in war and in the fear of way. Therefore the first aim of a rational foreign policy must be to ally oneself with that group of nations which is powerful enough, if acting together, to constitute an international authority; and generally one must page 188 uphold its decisions, even when, considered individually and on their merits, its decisions are repugnant; for anything is better than a relapse into war and the fear of war. It is irrational to resist the edicts of the international authority, even when they involve some limitation of purely national sovereignty, except in the extreme case of these edicts threatening the very survival of the nation.

[8]  This familiar and respectable argument is pure Spinozism, applied to international society instead of to civil society. The old contrast between the state of nature and civil society seems remote and artificial to modern readers, because the central power of the nation-state is now generally taken for granted as necessary and unavoidable. The problem of sovereignty, and of the justification of surrendering power to a central authority, comes alive again as soon as it is transposed into terms of international politics; the same egotistic or amoral calculations of profit and loss in the surrender of freedom are invoked, as were formerly invoked in the justification of the authority of the nation-state. The strength of this form of political argument is that it does not rest on changing and disputable moral notions, and can therefore be used persuasively in all circumstances and at all times.

[9]  It was Spinoza's purpose to persuade people to think realistically and rationally about political problems, and to discard moral and religious prejudices. He was not analysing how the ordinary man does in fact make political decisions, but recommending a scientific method, which in fact only the relatively rational man actually uses. It is page 189 irrelevant to object, as so many commentators have objected, that his political philosophy is not in accordance with ordinary language or with our established ways of thinking about politics; so far from being an objection, this would seem to Spinoza a confirmation. Most men are necessarily governed by passive emotion; they have no clear and objective understanding of the laws which govern the behaviour of human beings in society; if they in fact had such an understanding, positive coercion and the concentration of power in the hands of the government (imperium) would be unnecessary {only running the Post Office}, because it is only their passive emotions which lead men into conflict with each other. 

Endnote TP1 - From Nadler's Book XX:342
Introduction to The Political Treatise:

[1]  The Political Treatise is, in some respects, a sequel to the Theological- Political Treatise. If the 1670 treatise establishes the basic foundations and most general principles of civil society, regardless of the form which sovereignty takes in the state (whether it be a monarchy; an aristocracy, or a democracy), the new work concerns more particularly how states of different constitutions can be made to function well. Spinoza also intendedan intention that remained unfulfilledto show that, of all constitutions, the democratic one is to be preferred. No less than the Theological-Political Treatise, the composition of the Political Treatise is intimately related to the contemporary political scene in the Dutch Republic. Spinoza treats a number of universal political-philosophical themes with an immediate historical relevance, even urgency.

[2]  The Political Treatise is a very concrete work. Spinoza begins, in fact, by dismissing utopian schemes and idealistic hopes for a society of individuals leading the life of reason. "Those who persuade themselves that the multitude or people distracted by politics can ever be induced to live according to the bare dictate of reason must be dreaming of the golden age of the Poets, or some fable". (53) Any useful political science must start, instead, from a realistic assessment of human nature and its passions considered as natural, necessary phenomena
in other words, from the egoistic {self-interest} psychology of the Ethics. Only then can one deduce political principles that, in accordance with experience, will best serve as the foundation of a polity.  

From "Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy"; Cambridge University Press;
        ISBN: 052148328X; Page 762—Politics and philosophical theology.


PAGE 281

OUR  author  composed  the  Political  Treatise  shortly before his death
[in 1677].   Its  reasonings  are  exact,  its  style  clear.   Abandoning  the

opinions  of  many  political writers, he most firmly propounds therein his
own judgment; and throughout draws his conclusions from his premisses.
In the first five chapters, he treats of political science in general — in the
sixth  and  seventh,  of  monarchy;  in the eighth, ninth, and tenth, of aris-
tocracy; lastly, the eleventh begins the subject of democratic government.
But  his  untimely death was the reason that he did not finish this treatise,
and  that  he  did  not  deal  with the subject of laws, nor with the various
questions about politics, as may be seen from the following "Letter of the
Author  to  a  Friend,  which  may  properly  be  prefixed  to  this  Political
Treatise, and serve it for a Preface:" —  Letter (84):357; Bk.XIB:15130; Bk.XII:311.  

The author's aim appears clearly from this letter; but being hindered by
illness, and snatched away by death, he was unable, as the reader will

find  for  himself,  to  continue  this  work  further  than to the end of the
subject of aristocracy.     Bk.XIII:357399.

   Part                Chapters

Part 1 I II III IV V
Part 2 VI VII         
Part 3 VIII IX X XI   


     Source Text

Of the theory and practice of political science. 1:1, 23 287
Of the author's design. 1:4 288
Of the force of the passions in men. 1:5 289
That  we  must  not look to proofs of reason for the causes
and  foundations  of  dominion,  but  deduce them from the
general nature or condition of mankind. 
1:6, 7 289

Right, natural and civil. 2:1 291
Essence, ideal and real. 2:2 291
What natural right is. 2:3, 45 291
The vulgar opinion about liberty. Of the first man's fall. 2:6 292
Of liberty and necessity. 2:7, 8
2:9, 10
He is free, who is led by reason. 2:11 295
Of giving and breaking one's word by natural right. 2:12 296
Of alliances formed between men. 2:13 296
Men naturally enemies. 2:14 296
The more there are that come together, the more right all
collectively have.
2:15 296
Every one has so much the less right, the more the rest
collectively exceed him in power.
2:16 297
Of dominion and its three kinds. 2:17 297
That in the state of nature one can do no wrong. 2:18 297
What wrong-doing and obedience are. 2:19, 20
The free man. 2:22 299
The just and unjust man. 2:23 299
Praise and blame.
2:24 300

                        SUPREME AUTHORITIES.
A commonwealth, affairs of state, citizens, subjects. 3:1 301
Right of a dominion same as natural right. 3:2 301
By the ordinance of the commonwealth a citizen may
not live after his own mind.
3:3, 4 301
Every citizen is dependent not on himself,
but on the commonwealth.
3:5, 6, 7
3:8, 9
A question about religion. 3:10 305
Of the right of supreme authorities against the world at large. 3:11,12 306
Two commonwealths naturally hostile. 3:13 306
Of the state of treaty, war, and peace.
3:14, 15
3:16, 17

                         SUPREME AUTHORITIES.
What matters are affairs of state. 4:1, 2, 3 309
In what sense it can, in what it cannot be said, that a
commonwealth does wrong.
4:4, 5, 6  310

                                          OF A DOMINION.
That is best which is ordered according to the
dictate of reason.
5:1 313
The end of the civil state.  The best dominion. 5:2, 3, 4
5:5, 6
Machiavelli and his design.
5:7 315

A  Political  TreatisePart 1 , Part 2 , Part 3

PAGE 287


[I:1] (1:1:1)  PHILOSOPHERS conceive of the passions which harass us as

vices  into  which  men  fall  by  their own fault, and, therefore, generally

deride,  bewail,  or  blame  them,  or execrate them, if they wish to seem

unusually pious.
(1:1:2) And so they think they are doing something wonder-

ful,  and reaching the pinnacle of learning, when they are clever enough

to  bestow  manifold  praise  on such human nature, as is nowhere to be

found, and  to make verbal attacks on that which, in fact, exists.
(1:1:3)  For

they  conceive  of  men,  not  as  they are, but as they themselves would
like  them to be.  
(1:1:4)  Whence it has come to pass that, instead of ethics,

they  have  generally written satire, and that they have never conceived
theory  of politics, which could be turned to use, but such as might be
taken  for  a  chimera,  or  might  have  been formed in Utopia, or in that
golden  age  of  the  poets  when,  to be sure, there was least need of it.

(1:1:5)  Accordingly,  as  in all sciences, which have a useful application, so

especially  in  that  of  politics, theory is supposed to be at variance with

practice;  and  no  men  are esteemed less fit to direct public affairs than
theorists or philosophers.

[1:2]  (1:2:1) But  statesmen,  on  the  other hand, are suspected of plotting

against  mankind, rather  than  consulting  their  
page 288 interests, and are
esteemed  more  crafty  than  learned. (!:2:2)  No  doubt  nature has taught

them, that vices will exist, while men do. 
(1:2:3)  And so, while they study to

anticipate  human  wickedness,  and that by arts, which experience and

long practice have taught, and which men generally use under the guid-

ance  more  of  fear  than  of  reason, they are thought to be enemies of

religion,  especially  by  divines,  who  believe  that  supreme authorities

should  handle  public affairs in accordance with the same rules of piety,

as  bind a private individual.  
(1:2:4)  Yet there can be no doubt, that states-

men  have  written  about  politics  far  more  happily  than philosophers.

(2:5)  For,  as  they  had  experience for their mistress, they taught nothing

that  was  inconsistent  with  practice.

(1:3:1) And, certainly, I am fully persuaded that experience has revealed
all  conceivable sorts of commonwealth, which are consistent with men's

living  in  unity,  and  likewise  the means by which the multitude may be

guided or kept within fixed bounds.
(1:3:2)  So that I do not believe that we

can  by  meditation  discover  in  this  matter  anything  not  yet tried and

ascertained,   which  shall  be  consistent  with  experience  or  practice.

(3:3)  For  men are so situated, that they cannot live without some general

(1:3:4) But general laws and public affairs are ordained and managed

by  men of the utmost acuteness, or, if you like, of great cunning or craft.

(1:3:5) And  so  it  is hardly credible, that we should be able to conceive of

anything  serviceable  to a general society, that occasion or chance has

not  offered,  or that men, intent upon their common affairs, and seeking

their  own  safety,  have  not  seen  for  themselves.

(1:4:1) Therefore, on applying my mind  to politics, I have resolved to:

demonstrate  by  a  certain  and  undoubted  course  of
 argument, or to

deduce  from  the  very condition of human nature, not what is new and

unheard  of,  but only such things as agree best with practice
(1:4:2)  And

that  I  might investigate the subject-matter of this science with the same         
Lewis S. Feuer
freedom  of  spirit  as  we generally use in mathematics, I have laboured         Durant:650[1[162 
         { E2:XLIX(69):126; Spinozistic meaning—D2:Bk.III:235 }; Bk.XII:323.
carefully,  not  to  mock,  lament,  or  execrate, but to understand human          Mark Twain 
actions;  and  to  this  end  I  have  looked  upon passions, such as love,        TPI:Bk.XIB:157 
  < E1:Endnote 49, Bk.XV:26849 >; Bk.XIV:2:2882.                         {agitations}
hatred,  anger,  envy,  ambition,  pity, and the other perturbations of the            Purpose 

mind, not in the light of vices of human nature, but as properties,  page 289 

just as pertinent  to  it,  as are heat, cold, storm, thunder, and the like to          Durant650[1]162 

the nature  of the atmosphere, which phenomena, though inconvenient,

are  yet   necessary,   and   have   fixed  causes,  by means of which we
endeavour  to  understand  their  nature, and the mind has just as much

pleasure in viewing them aright, as in knowing such things as flatter the

[1:5] (1:5:1)  For  this is certain, and we have proved its truth in our E4:IV(9)c:

; E3:XXXI(5)n:152; E3:XXXII(3)n:152, that men are of necessity liable

to  passions,  and  so  constituted  as  to pity those who are ill, and envy

those  who  are  well  off;  and  to  be prone  to  vengeance more than to

mercy:  and  moreover,  that  every individual wishes the rest to live after

his  own  mind,  and  to  approve  what  he approves, and reject what he

(1:5:2)   And so it comes to pass, that, as all are equally eager to be

first,  they  fall  to  strife,  and  do  their  utmost  mutually  to oppress one
another; and he who comes out conqueror is more proud of the harm he

has done to the other, than of the good he has done to himself. 
(1:5:3)  And

although  all are persuaded, that religion, on the contrary, teaches every

man  to  love  his  neighbour  as  himself, that is to defend another's right

just  as  much  as  his  own,  yet we showed that this persuasion has too

little power over the passions.  
(1:5:4)  It avails, indeed, in the hour of death,

when  disease  has  subdued the very passions, and man lies inert, or in

temples,  where  men  hold  no  traffic,  but  least  of  all, where it is most

needed, in the law-court or the palace. 
(1:5:5)  We showed too, that reason

can,  indeed,  do  much  to  restrain  and moderate the passions, but we          

saw  at  the  same  time,  that  the  road, which reason herself points out,

is  very  steep,  E5:XLII(5)n:270;  so  that  such as persuade themselves,

that  the  multitude  or  men distracted by politics can ever be induced to

live  according  to  the  bare  dictate  of reason, must be dreaming of the

poetic golden age, or of a stage-play.

[1:6]  (1:6:1)  A  dominion  then,  whose  well-being depends on any man's

good  faith,  and  whose affairs cannot be properly administered, unless

those  who  are  engaged in them will act honestly, will be very unstable.

(1:6:2)  On the contrary, to insure its permanence, its public affairs should

be  so  
page 290  ordered, that those who administer them, whether guided

by  reason  or  passion,  cannot  be  led  to  act treacherously or basely.

(1:6:3)  Nor  does it matter to the security of a dominion, in what spirit men

are  led  to  rightly  administer  its  affairs.   
(1:6:4)  For liberality of spirit, or
courage,  is  a  private  virtue;  but  the  virtue  of  a  state  is its security.

[1:7]  (1:7:1)  Lastly,  inasmuch  as  all men, whether barbarous or civilized,

everywhere  frame  customs,  and form some kind of civil state, we must

not,  therefore,  look  to  proofs  of  reason  for  the  causes  and natural

bases  of  dominion, but derive them from the general nature or position

of mankind, as I mean to do in the next chapter.


[2:1] (2:1:1) IN our Theologico-Political Treatise we have treated of natural

and  civil  right,  TTP4:(68):207,  and  in  our  Ethics  have explained the
Bk.XIV:2:241; Bk.XIX:26630. 
nature of wrong-doing, merit, justice, injustice, E4:XXXVII(18)n2:213, and

lastly,  of  human  liberty,  E2:XLVIII:119, E2:XLIX:120, E2:XLIX(13)n:121.

(2:1:2)  Yet,  lest  the  readers  of  the  present treatise should have to seek

elsewhere  those  points,  which especially concern it, I have determined

to   explain   them   here   again,  and  give  a  deductive  proof  of  them.

[2:2]   (2:2:1)   Any  natural  thing  whatever  can  be  just as well conceived,

whether  it  exists  or  does  not  exist.   
(2:2:2)  As then the beginning of the

existence  of  natural  things  cannot  be  inferred from their definition, so
neither  can  their  continuing to exist.  (2:2:3)  For their ideal essence is the

same,  after  they  have  begun  to  exist,  as  it  was before they existed.

(2:2:4) As then their beginning to exist cannot be inferred from their essence,

so neither can their continuing to exist; but they need the same power to

enable  them  to  go  on  existing,  as  to  enable  them  to  begin to exist.

 (2:2:5)   From  which it follows, that the power, by which natural things exist,

and  therefore  that  by  which  they  operate,  can  be  no other than the
 external—Bk.XIV:2:1984; Bk.XIA:12313; Bk.XIX:9119. 
eternal power of G-D itself. (2:2:6)  For were it another and a created power,

it  could  not preserve  itself,  much  less natural things, but it would itself,

in  order  to continue  to  exist,  have  need  of  the  same
 power which it

needed to be created.

[2:3]  (2:3:1)   From  this  fact  therefore,  that  is,  that  the  power whereby
natural  things  exist  and  operate  is  the  very  power of G-D itself, we

easily  understand  what  natural right is.  
(2:3:2)  For as G-D has a right to

everything,  and  G-D's  right  is  nothing else, but his very power, as far

as  the  latter  is  considered 
page 292 to be absolutely free; it follows from

this,  that  every  natural  thing  has  by  nature  as  much right, as it has

power  to  exist  and  operate;  since  the  natural power of every natural

thing,  whereby  it  exists  and operates, is nothing else but the power of

G-D, which is absolutely free.

[2:4]   (2:4:1)   And so by natural right I understand the very laws or rules of

nature, in accordance with which everything takes place, in other words,
the  power  of  nature  itself.  (2:4:2)  And  so  the  natural  right of universal

nature,  and consequently of every individual thing, extends as far as its         

power:  and  accordingly,  whatever  any  man does after the laws of his

nature,  he  does  by the highest natural right, and he has as much right
Bk.XII:324, 325good and bad.
over nature as he has power.

[2:5]   (2:5:1)   If  then  human  nature  had  been  so  constituted,  that men

should live according to the mere dictate of reason, and attempt nothing

inconsistent  therewith,  in that case natural right, considered as special

to mankind, would be determined by the power of reason only.  
(2:5:2)  But

men  are  more  led  by  blind  desire, than by reason: and therefore the

natural power or right of human beings should be limited, not by reason,

but  by  every  appetite, whereby they are determined to action, or seek

their  own  preservation
(2:5:3)   I,  for  my  part,  admit, that those desires,

which  arise  not  from  reason,  are  not  so  much  actions  as  passive

affections  of  man.   
(2:5:4)   But  as  we  are  treating here of the universal

power  or  right  of  nature,  we  cannot  here  recognize  any  distinction

between  desires,  which  are  engendered  in  us  by reason, and those

which  are  engendered  by  other  causes;  since the latter, as much as

the  former,  are  effects  of  nature,  and display the natural impulse, by

which man strives to continue in existence. 
(2:5:5)  For man, be he learned

or  ignorant,  is  part  of  nature,  and  everything,  by  which
 any man is

determined to action, ought to be referred to the power of nature, that is,

to  that  power,  as it is limited by the nature of this or that man.  
(2:5:6)  For
man,  whether  guided  by  reason  or mere desire, does nothing save in

accordance  with  the  laws  and  rules of nature, that is, by natural right.


[2:6]   (2:6:1)  But most people believe, that the ignorant rather disturb than

follow  the  course  of nature, and conceive of  
page 293 mankind, in nature

as  of  one  dominion  within  another.   
(2:6:2)   For  they maintain, that the

human  mind  is  produced by no natural causes, but created directly by

G-D,  and  is  so  independent  of  other  things,  that  it has an absolute

power  to  determine  itself, and make a right use of reason.  
(2:6:3)  Experi-

ence,  however,  teaches  us but too well, that it is no more in our power

to  have  a  sound  mind,  than  a  sound  body.   
(2:6:4)  Next, inasmuch as

everything whatever, as far as in it lies, strives to preserve its own exist-

ence, we cannot at all doubt, that, were it as much in our power to live

after the dictate of reason, as to be led by blind desire, all would be led

by reason, and order their lives wisely; which is very far from being the

(2:6:5)   For

          "Each is attracted by his own delight."  ( Virgil, Ecl. ii. 65.)

(2:6:6)   Nor  do  divines remove this difficulty, at least not by deciding, that

the  cause  of  this  want  of  power  is  a  vice  or  sin  in  human nature,
deriving  its  origin  from  our  first parents' fall.  (2:6:7)  For if it was even in

the  first man's power as much to stand as to fall, and he was in posses-

sion of his senses, and had his nature unimpaired, how could it be, that

he  fell  in  spite of his knowledge and foresight?  
(2:6:8)  But they say, that

he  was  deceived by the devil.  
(2:6:9)  Who then was it, that deceived the

devil himself?  
(2:6:10)  Who, I say, so maddened the very being that excell-

ed all other created intelligences, that he wished to be greater than God?

(2:6:11)   For  was  not  his  effort  too,  supposing  him  of  sound  mind,  to

preserve  himself and his existence, as far as in him lay?  
(2:6:12)  Besides,

how could it happen, that the first man himself, being in his senses, and

master  of  his  own  will,  should  be  led astray, and suffer himself to be

taken  mentally  captive?  
(2:6:13)   For  if  he had the power to make a right

use  of  reason,  it was not possible for him to be deceived, for as far as

in  him  lay,  he  of  necessity  strove  to  preserve  his existence and his

soundness  of  mind.  
(2:6:14)   But  the hypothesis is, that he had this in his

power; therefore he of necessity maintained his soundness of mind, and

could  not  be deceived.  
(2:6:15)  But  this  from  his history, is known to be

(2:6:16)   And,  accordingly, it must be admitted, that it was not in the

first  man's  
page 294  power to make a right use of reason, but that, like us,
GN:2n }; Bk.XIX:26320.
he was subject to passions.

[2:7]  (2:7:1)  But that man, like other beings, as far as in him lies, strives to

preserve  his  existence,  no  one  can  deny.   
(2:7:2)  For if any distinction

could  be  conceived  on  this  point,  it  must  arise from man's having a

free will.   
(2:7:3)   But  the  freer  we  conceived  man  to  be,  the  more we

should  be  forced  to  maintain,  that  he  must of necessity preserve his

existence  and  be  in  possession  of  his  senses;  as anyone will easily

grant  me,  that  does  not  confound  liberty  with  contingency.  
(2:7:4)  For

liberty  is  a  virtue,  or  excellence.  
(2:7:5)  Whatever, therefore, convicts a

man  of  weakness  cannot  be  ascribed  to his liberty.  
(2:7:6)  And so man

can by no means be called free, because he is able not to exist or not to

use  his  reason, but only in so far as he preserves the power of existing

and  operating  according  to  the laws  of human nature.  
(2:7:7)  The more,

therefore,  we consider man to be free, the less we can say, that he can

neglect  to  use reason, or choose evil in preference to good; and, there-

fore, G-D, who exists in absolute liberty, also understands and operates

of  necessity, that is, exists, understands, and operates according to the

necessity  of  his  own nature.  
(2:7:8)  For there is no doubt, that G-D oper-

ates  by  the  same  liberty  whereby he exists.  
(2:7:9)  As then he exists by

the  necessity of his own nature, by the necessity of his own nature also

he acts, that is, he acts with absolute liberty.

[2:8]   (2:8:1)  So we conclude, that it is not in the power of any man always

to  use  his  reason, and be at the highest pitch of human liberty, and yet

that  everyone  always,  as far as in him lies, strives to preserve his own

existence;  and  that  (since  each  has  as  much right as he has power)

whatever  anyone,  be  he  learned  or  ignorant,  attempts and does, he
attempts  and  does by supreme natural right.  
(2:8:2)  From which it follows

that  the law and ordinance of nature, under which all men are born, and

for  the  most part live, forbids nothing but what no one wishes or is able

to  do,  and  is  not  opposed  to  strifes,  hatred, anger, treachery, or, in         
general, anything that appetite suggests.  (2:8:3)  For the bounds of nature

are not the laws of human reason, which do but pursue the true interest

and  preservation  of  mankind,  but other infinite laws, which regard the

eternal  order  of  universal  Nature,
page 295 whereof  man  is an atom; and

according  to  the  necessity  of  this  order only are all individual beings

determined in a fixed manner to exist and operate.  
(2:8:4)  Whenever, then,

anything  in  nature  seems to us ridiculous, absurd, or evil, it is because

we  have  but a partial knowledge of things, and are in the main ignorant

of  the order and coherence of nature as a whole, and because we want

everything  to  be  arranged  according  to the dictate of our own reason;

although,   in  fact,  what  our  reason  pronounces  bad,  is  not  bad  as

regards  the  order  and laws of universal nature, but only as regards the

laws of our own nature taken separately.

[2:9]  (2:9:1)  Besides, it follows that everyone is so far rightfully dependent

on another, as he is under that other's authority, and so far independent,

as  he  is  able to repel all violence, and avenge to his heart's content all

damage done to him, and in general to live after his own mind.

[2:10]   (2:10:1)   He  has  another under his authority, who holds him bound,

or  has  taken  from  him  arms  and  means  of  defence  or  escape,  or

inspired  him  with fear,  or  so  attached  him  to  himself  by past favour,

that  the  man  obliged  would  rather please his benefactor than himself,

and  live  after  his  mind  than  after  his own.  
(2:10:2)  He that has another

under  authority  in  the first or second of these ways, holds but his body,

not  his  mind.   
(2:10:3)  But  in  the  third or fourth way he has made depen-

dent  on  himself  as  well  the mind as the body of the other; yet only as

long  as  the  fear  or  hope lasts, for upon the removal of the feeling the

other is left independent.

[2:11]   (2:11:1)  The judgment can be dependent on another, only as far as

that  other  can  deceive  the  mind; whence it follows that the mind is so

far  independent,  as  it  uses  reason  aright.   
(2:11:2)   Nay,  inasmuch  as

human  power  is to be reckoned less by physical vigour than by mental

strength,  it follows that those men are most independent whose reason

is  strongest,  and  who  are  most  guided  thereby.   
(2:11:3)   And  so I am

altogether for calling a man so far free, as he is led by reason; because

so far he is determined to action by such causes, as can be adequately

understood  by  his  unassisted  nature, although by these causes he be

necessarily determined to action.  
(2:11:4)  For liberty, as we showed above

  page 296  (Sec. 2:7),  does  not  take  away  the  necessity  of  acting,  but

supposes it.

                                                     { Altruism }
[2:12]   (2:12:1)  The  pledging  of  faith  to  any  man,  where  one  has  but

verbally  promised  to  do  this  or  that,  which one might rightfully leave
need }
undone,  or vice versâ, remains so long valid as the will of him that gave

his  word  remains  unchanged.   
(2:12:2)  For he that has authority to break
diminished }
faith has, in fact, bated nothing of his own right, but only made a present

of  words.  
(2:12:3)  If, then, he, being by natural right judge in his own case,

comes  to  the  conclusion,  rightly or wrongly (for "to err is human"), that

more  harm  than  profit  will come of his promise, by the judgment of his

own mind he decides that the promise should be broken, and by natural

right (Sec. 2:9) he will break the same.

[2:13]   (2:13:1)   If  two  come  together  and  unite their strength, they have

jointly  more  power, and consequently more right over nature than both

of  them  separately,  and  the  more  there  are  that  have  so  joined in

alliance, the more right they all collectively will possess.

[2:14]   (2:14:1)   In  so  far  as  men  are  tormented by  anger, envy, or any

passion  implying  hatred,  they  are drawn  asunder and made contrary

one  to  another,  and  therefore  are so much the more to be feared, as

they  are  more  powerful,  crafty,  and  cunning  than  the other animals.

(2:14:2)     And  because  men  are  in  the  highest  degree  liable  to  these
passions (1:5), therefore men are naturally enemies.  
(2:14:3)  For he is my

greatest  enemy,  whom  I  must  most  fear and be on my guard against.

[2:15]  (2:15:1)  But inasmuch as (2:6) in the state of nature each is so long

independent,  as  he can guard against oppression by another, and it is

in  vain  for  one man alone to try and guard against all, it follows hence

that  so  long  as  the natural right of man is determined by the power of

every  individual,  and  belongs  to  everyone,  so  long  it is a nonentity,

existing  in  opinion rather than fact, as there is no assurance of making
it  good.   (2:15:2)  And  it  is  certain  that  the  greater  cause  of fear every

individual  has,  the  less  power,  and  consequently  the  less  right, he

(2:15:3)  To  this  must be added, that without mutual help men

can  hardly  support life and cultivate the mind.  
(2:15:4)  And so our conclu-

sion  is,  that  that  natural  right,  which  is  special  to  the  human race,

 page 297  can   hardly   be  conceived,  except  where  men  have  general

rights,  and  combine  to defend the possession of the lands they inhabit

and  cultivate,  to protect  themselves,  to  repel  all violence, and to live

according to the general judgment of all. 
(2:15:5)  For (2:13) the more there

are  that  combine  together,  the  more  right  they  collectively possess.

(2:15:6)   And  if  this  is  why  the  schoolmen  want  to  call  man a sociable

animal — I  mean  because  men  in  the  state  of  nature can hardly be

independent — I have nothing to say against them.

(2:16:1)   Where  men  have  general rights, and are all guided, as it
were, by one mind, it is certain (2:13), that every individual has the less

right  the  more the rest collectively exceed him in power; that is, he has,

in  fact,  no  right over nature but that which the common law allows him.

(2:16:2)  But whatever he is ordered by the general consent, he is bound to

execute, or may rightfully be compelled thereto (2:4).

[2:17]  (2:17:1)  This  right, which is determined by the power of a multitude,

is  generally  called  Dominion.  
(2:17:2)  And, speaking generally, he holds

dominion, to whom are entrusted by common consent affairs of state —

such  as  the  laying  down,  interpretation,  and abrogation of laws, the

fortification  of  cities,  deciding  on  war and peace, &c.  
(2:17:3)  But if this

charge  belong  to  a  council,  composed of the general multitude, then

the  dominion  is  called  a democracy;  if  the  council  be  composed of

certain  chosen  persons, then it is an aristocracy; and if, lastly, the care

of  affairs  of  state  and,  consequently, the dominion rest with one man,

then it has the name of monarchy.

[2:18]  (2:18:1)  From what we have proved in this chapter, it becomes clear
jungle }                       Bk.XIA:13045.
to us that, in the state of nature, wrong-doing is impossible; or, if anyone

does  wrong,  it  is to himself, not to another.
(2:18:2)  For no one by the law

of  nature  is  bound  to  please  another, unless he chooses, nor to hold

anything  to  be  good  or evil, but what he himself, according to his own

temperament,  pronounces  to be so; and, to speak generally, nothing is

forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone's power

(2:5 and 2:8).   
(2:18:3)   But wrongdoing is action, which cannot lawfully be

(2:18:4)  But  if  men  by  the  ordinance  of  nature were bound

to  be  led  by  
page 298  reason,   then  all  of  necessity  would  be  so led.

(2:18:5)  For  the  ordinances of nature are the ordinances of G-D (2:2, and

2:3),  which  G-D  has  instituted  by  the liberty, whereby he exists, and

they  follow, therefore, from the necessity of the divine nature (2:7), and,

consequently,  are  eternal,  and  cannot  be  broken.  
(2:18:6)  But men are

chiefly  guided  by  appetite,  without  reason;  yet for all this they do not

disturb  the  course  of nature, but follow it of necessity.
(2:18:7)  And, there-

fore, a man ignorant and weak of mind, is no more bound by natural law

to  order  his  life  wisely,  than a sick man is bound to be sound of body.

[2:19]  (2:19:1)  Therefore  wrong-doing  cannot be conceived of, but under

dominion — that is,  where,  by  the general right of the whole dominion,

it  is  decided  what  is good and what evil, and where no one does any-

thing  rightfully,  save  what  he  does  in  accordance  with  the  general

decree  or  consent  (2:16).  
(2:19:2)  For that, as we said in the last section,
is  wrong-doing,  which  cannot  lawfully  be  committed,  or is by law for-

(2:19:3)  But  obedience  is the constant will to execute that, which

by law is good, and by the general decree ought to be done.

[2:20]  (2:20:1)  Yet  we  are  accustomed  to  call  that also wrong, which is

done against  the  sentence  of  sound  reason, and to give the name of

obedience to the constant will to moderate the appetite according to the

dictate of reason: a manner of speech which I should quite approve, did

human  liberty  consist  in  the  licence  of  appetite,  and  slavery  in the

dominion  of reason.  
(2:20:2)  But as human liberty is the greater, the more

man  can  be  guided  by  reason, and moderate his appetite, we cannot

without  great  impropriety  call  a  rational  life  obedience, and give the

name  of  wrong-doing  to that which is, in fact, a weakness of the mind,

not  a  licence  of  the  mind  directed against itself, and for which a man

may be called a slave, rather than free (2:7 and 2:11).

[2:21]  (2:21:1)  However,  as  reason teaches one to practise piety, and be

of  a calm and gentle spirit, which cannot be done save under dominion;

and,  further,  as  it is impossible for a multitude to be guided, as it were,

by one mind, as under dominion is required, unless it has laws ordained

according  to  the  dictate  of  reason;  men  who are accustomed to live

  page 299  under  dominion  are  not,  therefore, using words so improperly,

when  they  call that wrong-doing which is done against the sentence of

reason,  because  the  laws  of  the  best  dominion  ought  to be framed

according  to  that  dictate (2:18).  
(2:21:2)  But, as for my saying (2:18) that

man  in a state of nature, if he does wrong at all, does it against himself,

see,  on  this  point, 4:4 and 4:5, where is shown, in what sense we can

say,  that  he who holds dominion and possesses natural right, is bound

by laws and can do wrong.

[2:22]  (2:22:1)  As far as religion is concerned, it is further clear, that a man

is  most free and most obedient to himself when he most loves God, and

worships  him  in sincerity.  
(2:22:2)  But so far as we regard, not the course

of  nature,  which  we do not understand, but the dictates of reason only,

which   respect   religion,  and  likewise  reflect  that  these  dictates  are

revealed  to  us  by  G-D, speaking, as it were, within ourselves, or else

were  revealed  to  prophets  as laws; so far, speaking in human fashion,

we  say that man obeys G-D when he worships him in sincerity, and, on

the  contrary,  does  wrong  when he is led by blind desire.  
(2:22:3)  But, at

the  same  time,  we  should  remember  that  we  are  subject  to  G-Ds

authority,  as  clay  to  that  of  the  potter, who of the same lump makes
Bk.XX:33235.                           { Jeremiah 18:6 }
some  vessels  unto honour, and others unto dishonour (Romans ix. 21).

(2:22:4)  And  thus  man  can,  indeed,  act  contrarily to the decrees of G-D,

as  far  as  they  have been written like laws in the minds of ourselves or

the  prophets, but against that eternal decree of G-D, which is written in

Nature, and has regard to the course of Nature as a whole, he

can do nothing.

[2:23]  (2:23:1)  As,  then,  wrong-doing  and obedience, in their strict sense,

so  also  justice  and  injustice  cannot  be  conceived  of,  except  under

(2:23:2)  For  nature  offers  nothing that can be called this man's

rather  than another's; but under nature everything belongs to all — that

is,  they  have  authority  to  claim  it  for  themselves.    
(2:23:3)   But  under

dominion, w here  it  is  by common law determined what belongs to this

man,  and  what  to  that,  he  is  called  just  who  has  a constant will to

render  to  every man his own, but he unjust who strives,  
page 300 on the

contrary, to make his own that which belongs to another.

[2:24]  (2:24:1)  But that praise and blame are emotions of joy and sadness,

accompanied  by  an  idea  of  human  excellence  or weakness as their

cause, we have explained in our Ethics.

                          SUPREME AUTHORITIES.

[3:1] (3:1:1)  UNDER  every  dominion  the  state is said to be Civil; but the

entire  body  subject  to  a dominion is called a Commonwealth, and the

general  business  of  the  dominion,  subject to the direction of him that

holds it, has the name of Affairs of State.
(3:1:2) Next we call men Citizens,

as  far  as  they  enjoy by the civil law all the advantages of the common-

wealth,  and  Subjects,  as  far as they are bound to obey its ordinances

or  laws.  
(3:1:3)  Lastly,  we  have already said that, of the civil state, there

are   three   kinds — democracy,   aristocracy,   and   monarchy   (2:17).

(3:1:4)  Now,  before  I  begin  to  treat  of  each  kind  separately, I will first

deduce  all  the properties of the civil state in general.  
(3:1:5)  And of these,

first  of  all  comes  to  be  considered  the supreme right of the common-

wealth, or the right of the supreme authorities.

[3:2]  (3:2:1)  From  2:15, it is clear that the right of the supreme authorities

is  nothing  else  than  simple natural right, limited, indeed, by the power,

not  of  every individual, but of the multitude, which is guided, as it were,
by  one  mind — that  is, as each individual in the state of nature, so the

body  and  mind  of  a dominion have as much right as they have power.

(3:2:2)  And  thus  each  single  citizen  or  subject  has  the  less right, the

more  the commonwealth exceeds him in power (2:16), and each citizen

consequently  does  and  has  nothing,  but what he may by the general

decree of the commonwealth defend.

[3:3].  (3:3:1)  If  the  commonwealth  grant  to any man the right, and there-

with the authority (for else it is but a gift of words, (2:12), to live after his

own  mind,  by  that very act it abandons its own right, and transfers the

page 302  to  him,  to whom it has given  such authority.  (3:3:2)  But if it

has  given  this  authority  to  two  or  more, I mean authority to live each

after  his  own  mind,  by that very act it has divided the dominion, and if,

lastly,  it  has  given  this  same  authority to every citizen, it has thereby

destroyed   itself,  and  there  remains  no  more  a  commonwealth,  but
jungle }
everything  returns  to  the  state of nature;  all of which is very manifest

from  what  goes  before.  
(3:3:3)  And  thus  it  follows,  that  it  can  by  no

means  be  conceived,  that every citizen should by the ordinance of the

commonwealth  live  after  his  own  mind,  and  accordingly  this natural

right  of  being  one's  own  judge  ceases  in  the  civil  state.  
(3:3:4)  I say

expressly  "by  the ordinance of the commonwealth," for, if we weigh the

matter  aright,  the  natural right of every man does not cease in the civil

(3:3:5)  For  man,  alike  in  the  natural  and  in  the  civil  state,  acts

according  to  the  laws  of his own nature, and consults his own interest.

(3:3:6)  Man,  I  say,  in  each  state  is  led  by  fear  or hope to do or leave

undone  this  or  that;  but the main difference between the two states is

this,  that  in  the  civil  state  all  fear  the  same things, and all have the

same  ground of security, and manner of life; and this certainly does not

do  away  with  the  individual's  faculty  of judgment.  
(3:3:7)  For he that is

minded  to obey all the commonwealth's orders, whether through fear of

its  power or through love of quiet, certainly consults after his own heart

his own safety and interest.

[3:4]   (3:4:1)   Moreover,   we  cannot   even  conceive,  that  every  citizen

should  be  allowed  to  interpret  the  commonwealth's  decrees or laws.

(3:4:2)  For  were  every  citizen  allowed this, he would thereby be his own

judge, because each would easily be able to give a colour of right to his

own deeds, which by the last section is absurd.

[3:5]  (3:5:1)  We  see  then,  that every citizen depends not on himself, but

on  the  commonwealth,  all  whose  commands  he  is bound to execute,

and  has no right to decide, what is equitable or iniquitous, just or unjust.

(3:5:2)  But,  on  the  contrary,  as  the  body  of  the dominion should, so to

speak,  be  guided  by  one  mind,  and consequently the will of the com-

monwealth  must  be taken to be the will of all; what the state decides to

be  just  and  good  must  be  held  to  be so decided by every individual.

(3:5:3)  And  so,  however  iniquitous   page 303  the   subject   may   think  the

commonwealth's  decisions,  he is none the less bound to execute them.

[3:6]  (3:6:1)  But  (it  may  be  objected)  is  it  not contrary to the dictate of

reason  to  subject  one's  self  wholly  to  the  judgment of another, and

consequently,  is  not the civil state repugnant to reason?  
(3:6:2)  Whence

it  would  follow,   that  the  civil  state  is  irrational,  and  could  only  be

created  by  men  destitute  of  reason, not at all by such as are led by it.

(3:6:3)  But since reason teaches nothing contrary to nature, sound reason

cannot  therefore dictate, that every one should remain independent, so

long  as  men  are  liable  to passions (2:15), that is, reason pronounces

against  such  independence  (1:5).    
(3:6:4)   Besides,  reason  altogether

teaches  to  seek  peace,  and  peace cannot be maintained, unless the
 Bk.XIA:12727.                                       Bk.XIA:12727.
commonwealth's  general  laws  be  kept  unbroken.    (3:6:5)  And  so,  the

more  a  man is guided by reason, that is (2:11), the more he is free, the

more   constantly  he  will  keep  the  laws  of  the  commonwealth,  and

execute  the  commands  of  the supreme authority, whose subject he is.

(3:6:6)  Furthermore,  the civil state is naturally ordained to remove general

fear,   and  prevent  general  sufferings,  and  therefore  pursues  above

everything  the  very  end,  after  which  everyone, who is led by reason,
jungle }
strives,  but  in  the  natural  state  strives vainly (2:15).  (3:6:7)  Wherefore,

if  a  man,  who  is  led  by reason, has sometimes to do by the common-

wealth's  order  what  he  knows to be repugnant to reason, that harm is
except }
far  compensated  by  the  good, which he derives from the existence of

a  civil  state.  
(3:6:8)  For  it is reason's own law, to choose the less of two

evils;  and  accordingly  we  may conclude, that no one is acting against

the  dictate  of his own reason, so far as he does what by the law of the

commonwealth  is  to  be  done.  
(3:6:9)  And  this  anyone will more easily

grant us, after we have explained, how far the power and consequently

the right of the commonwealth extends.

[3:7]  (3:7:1)  For,  first  of all, it must be considered, that, as in the state of
jungle } 
nature  the  man  who  is led by reason is most powerful and most inde-

pendent,  so  too  that  commonwealth  will  be  most powerful and most

independent,  which  is  founded  and  guided  by  reason.  
(3:7:2)  For the

right  of  the commonwealth is determined by the power of the multitude,

which  is  led,  as it were, by one mind.
(3:7:3)  But this page 304 unity of mind

can in no wise be conceived, unless the commonwealth pursues chiefly

the  very  end,  which sound reason teaches is to the interest of all men.

[3:8]  (3:8:1)  In  the  second place it comes to be considered, that subjects

are  so  far dependent not on themselves, but on the commonwealth, as

they  fear  its  power  or  threats,  or  as  they  love  the  civil state (2:10).

(3:8:2)  Whence  it  follows,  that such things, as no one can be induced to

do  by  rewards  or threats,  do  not  fall  within the rights of the common-

(3:8:3)  For  instance,  by  reason  of his faculty of judgment, it is in

no  man's  power  to  believe.  
(3:8:4)  For by what rewards or threats can a

man  be  brought  to  believe,  that  the  whole is not greater than its part,

or  that  God  does  not  exist,  or  that  that is an infinite being, which he

sees to be finite, or generally anything contrary to his sense or thought?

(3:8:5)  So,  too,  by  what rewards or threats can a man be brought to love

one,  whom  he  hates,  or to hate one, whom he loves?  
(3:8:6)  And to this

head  must  likewise  be  referred  such  things  as  are  so  abhorrent to

human  nature,  that  it  regards them as actually worse than any evil, as

that  a  man  should  be witness against himself, or torture himself, or kill

his  parents,  or  not  strive  to avoid death, and the like, to which no one

can  be induced by rewards or threats.  
(3:8:7)  But if we still choose to say,

that  the  commonwealth  has  the  right or authority to order such things,

we  can  conceive  of  it  in  no other sense, than that in which one might

say, that a man has the right to be mad or delirious.  
(3:8:8)  For what but a

delirious  fancy  would  such a right be, as could bind no one?  
(3:8:9)  And

here  I am speaking expressly of such things as cannot be subject to the

right  of  a commonwealth and are abhorrent to human nature in general.

(3:8:10)  For  the  fact,  that  a fool or madman can by no rewards or threats

be  induced  to execute orders, or that this or that person, because he is

attached  to  this  or  that  religion,  judges the laws of a dominion worse

than  any  possible  evil,  in no wise makes void the laws of the common-

wealth,  since  by them most of the citizens are restrained.  
(3:8:11)  And so,

as  those  who  are  without  fear  or  hope are so far independent (2:10),

they are, therefore, enemies of the dominion (2:14), and may lawfully be

coerced by force.

PAGE 305

[3:9]  (3:9:1)  Thirdly  and  lastly,  it  comes  to  be  considered,  that  those

things  are  not  so  much  within the commonwealth's right, which cause

indignation in the majority.  
(3:9:2)  For it is certain, that by the guidance of

nature  men  conspire together, either  through common fear, or with the

desire  to  avenge  some  common hurt; and as the right of the common-

wealth  is determined by the common power of the multitude, it is certain

that  the  power  and  right  of  the  commonwealth are so far diminished,

as  it  gives  occasion  for  many  to  conspire  together.  
(3:9:3)  There  are

certainly some subjects of fear for a commonwealth, and as every sepa-

rate  citizen  or  in  the state of nature every man, so a commonwealth is

the  less  independent,  the  greater reason it has to fear.  
(3:9:4)  So much

for  the  right  of  supreme  authorities  over subjects.  
(3:9:5)  Now before I

treat  of the right of the said authorities as against others, we had better
debated }
resolve a question commonly mooted about religion.

[3:10]   (3:10:1)  For it may be objected to us, Do not the civil state, and the

obedience  of  subjects,  such  as we have shown is required in the civil

state,  do  away  with  religion,  whereby we are bound to worship God?

(3:10:2)  But  if  we consider  the matter, as it really is, we shall find nothing
an impediment }  
that  can  suggest  a scruple.  
(3:10:3)  For the mind, so far as it makes use

of  reason,  is  dependent,  not  on the supreme authorities, but on itself

(3:10:4)  And so the true knowledge and the love of God cannot be

subject   to  the  dominion  of  any,  nor  yet  can  charity  towards  one's

neighbour  (3:8).   
(3:10:5)  And  if  we  further  reflect, that the highest exer-

cise  of  charity  is that which aims at keeping peace and joining in unity,

we  shall not doubt that he does his duty, who helps everyone, so far as

the   commonwealth's  laws,   that  is  so  far  as  unity  and  quiet  allow.

(3:10:6)  As for external rites, it is certain, that they can do no good or harm

at  all  in  respect  of  the  true  knowledge  of  God,  and the love which

necessarily  results  from  it;  and  so  they  ought not to be held of such

importance,  that  it  should  be  thought  worth while on their account to

disturb public peace and quiet.
(3:10:7)  Moreover it is certain, that I am not

a  champion  of  religion  by the law of nature, that is (2:3), by the divine

(3:10:8) For I have no authority, as once the disciples of Christ had,

to  cast  out  unclean  spirits and work miracles; which
page 306 authority is

yet  so  necessary  to  the  propagating  of  religion  in places where it is

forbidden,  that  without  it  one  not only, as they say, wastes one's time

 (Note 1)  and  trouble,  but  causes  besides very many inconveniences,

whereof  all  ages  have  seen most mournful examples.  
(3:10:9)  Everyone

therefore,  wherever he may be, can worship God with true religion, and

mind  his  own  business,  which  is the duty of a private man.  
(3:10:10)  But

the  care  of  propagating  religion should be left to God, or the supreme

authorities,   upon   whom   alone   falls  the  charge  of  affairs  of  state.

(3:10:11)  But I return to my subject.

[3:11]   (3:11:1)  After   explaining   the   right  of  supreme  authorities  over

citizens  and the duty of subjects, it remains to consider the right of such

authorities  against  the  world  at  large,  which  is now easily intelligible

from  what  has been said.  
(3:11:2)  For since (3:2) the right of the supreme
jungle }
authorities  is  nothing  else  but  simple  natural  right, it follows that two

dominions stand towards each other in the same relation as do two men
a jungle }
in  the  state of nature,  with  this  exception,  that  a  commonwealth can

provide  against  being  oppressed  by another; which a man in the state

of  nature  cannot do, seeing that he is overcome daily by sleep, often by

disease  or  mental  infirmity,  and  in  the end by old age, and is besides

liable  to  other inconveniences, from which a commonwealth can secure


[3:12]  (3:12:1)  A  commonwealth  then is so far independent, as it can plan

and   provide   against  oppression  by  another  (2:9, 2:15),  and  so  far

dependent  on  another  commonwealth,  as  it  fears  that other's power,

or  is  hindered  by it from executing its own wishes, or lastly, as it needs

its  help  for  its  own preservation or increase (2:10, 2:15).  
(3:12:2)  For we

cannot  at  all  doubt, that if two commonwealths are willing to offer each

other  mutual  help, both together are more powerful, and therefore have

more right, than either alone (2:13).

[3:13]  (3:13:1)  But  this  will  be  more  clearly  intelligible, if we reflect, that

two  commonwealths  are  naturally enemies.  
(3:13:2)  For men in the state

of  nature  are  enemies  (2:14).  
(3:13:3)  Those,  then,  who  stand outside

a  commonwealth,   and  retain  their  natural  rights,   continue  enemies.

(3:13:4)  Accordingly,  page 307  if  one  commonwealth  wishes to make war on

another and employ extreme measures to make that other dependent on

itself, it may lawfully make the attempt, since it needs but the bare will of

the  commonwealth  for  war  to  be  waged.  
(3:13:5)  But concerning peace

it  can  decide  nothing,  save  with  the concurrence of another common-

wealth's  will.  
(3:13:6)   Whence  it  follows,  that  laws  of  war regard every

commonwealth   by  itself,  but  laws  of  peace  regard  not  one,  but  at

the least  two  commonwealths,  which  are  therefore called "contracting


[3:14]  (3:14:1)  This  "contract"  remains so long unmoved as the motive for

entering  into  it,  that  is, fear of hurt or hope of gain, subsists.  
(3:14:2)  But

take  away from either commonwealth this hope or fear, and it is left inde-

pendent (2:10), and the link, whereby the commonwealths were mutually

bound,  breaks  of  itself.  
(3:14:3)  And  therefore  every commonwealth has

the  right  to break its contract, whenever it chooses, and cannot be said

to  act  treacherously  or perfidiously in breaking its word, as soon as the

motive  of  hope  or  fear  is  removed.   
(3:14:4)  For every contracting party

was  on  equal  terms in this respect, that whichever could first free itself

of  fear  should be independent, and make use of its independence after

its  own  mind;  and,  besides,  no  one  makes a contract respecting the

future,   but   on   the   hypothesis  of  certain  precedent  circumstances.

(3:14:5)  But  when  these circumstances change, the reason of policy appli-

cable  to the whole position changes with them; and therefore every one

of  the contracting commonwealths retains the right of consulting its own

interest,  and  consequently  endeavours,  as  far  as possible, to be free

from  fear and thereby independent, and to prevent another from coming

out  of  the  contract  with  greater  power.  
(3:14:6)  If then a commonwealth

complains  that  it  has  been  deceived, it cannot properly blame the bad

faith  of  another  contracting  commonwealth,  but  only  its  own  folly in

having  entrusted its own welfare to another party, that was independent,
and had for its highest law the welfare of its own dominion.

[3:15]   (3:15:1)  To  commonwealths,  which  have  contracted  a  treaty  of

peace,  it  belongs to decide the questions, which may be mooted about

the  terms  or  rules  of  peace, whereby they have mutually bound them-

selves,  inasmuch  as  laws  of  
page 308  peace  regard  not  one  common-

wealth,  but  the  commonwealths  which  contract  taken together (3:13).

(3:15:2)  But if they cannot agree together about the conditions, they by that

very fact return to a state of war.

[3:16]  (3:16:1)  The  more  commonwealths there are, that have contracted

a joint treaty of peace, the less each of them by itself is an object of fear

to  the  remainder, or the less it has the authority to make war.  
(3:16:2)  But

it  is so much the more bound to observe the conditions of peace; that is

(2:13), the less independent, and the more bound to accommodate itself

to the general will of the contracting parties.

[3:17]   (3:17:1)  But the good faith, inculcated by sound reason and religion,

is  not  hereby  made  void; for neither reason nor Scripture teaches one

to  keep  one's  word  in  every case.   
(3:17:2)  For if I have promised a man,

for  instance,  to  keep  safe  a  sum of money he has secretly deposited

with  me,  I  am  not  bound to keep my word, from the time that I know or

believe  the  deposit  to  have  been  stolen,  but  I  shall act more rightly

in  endeavouring  to  restore  it  to  its  owners.  
(3:17:3)  So  likewise,  if the

supreme  authority  has  promised  another  to  do something, which sub-

sequently  occasion  or  reason  shows  or  seems to show is contrary to

the  welfare  of its subjects, it is surely bound to break its word.  
(3:17:4)  As

then  Scripture  only teaches us to keep our word in general, and leaves

to  every  individual's judgment the special cases of exception, it teaches

nothing repugnant to what we have just proved.

[3:18]   (3:18:1)   But  that I may not have so often to break the thread of my

discourse,  and  to  resolve  hereafter  similar  objections, I would have it

known  that  all  this  demonstration of mine proceeds from the necessity

of  human  nature,  considered  in  what light you will — I mean, from the

universal  effort of all men after self-preservation, an effort inherent in all

men,  whether  learned  or unlearned.  
(3:18:2)  And therefore, however one

considers  men  are  led,  whether  by passion or by reason, it will be the

same  thing;  for  the  demonstration,  as  we  have  said,  is  of universal


Footnote 3:1.  Literally, "oil and trouble " — a common proverbial
                                                                     expression in Latin.

PAGE 309

                          SUPREME AUTHORITIES.

[4:1] (4:1:1)  THAT  the  right  of  the  supreme authorities is limited by their

power,  we  showed in the last chapter, and saw that the most important

part  of  that  right  is,  that they are, as it were, the mind of the dominion,

whereby  all  ought  to  be guided; and accordingly, that such authorities

alone   have   the   right  of  deciding  what  is  good,  evil,  equitable,  or

iniquitous,  that  is,  what  must  be  done  or  left undone by the subjects

severally  or  collectively.  
(4:1:2)  And,  accordingly,  we saw that they have

the  sole  right  of  laying  down laws, and of interpreting the same, when-

ever  their  meaning is disputed, and of deciding whether a given case is

in  conformity  with or violation of the law 3:3, 4, 5); and, lastly, of waging

war,   and   of  drawing  up  and  offering  propositions  for  peace,  or  of

accepting such when offered (3:12, 13).

(4:2:1)  As all these functions, and also the means required to execute

them,  are  matters  which regard the whole body of the dominion, that is,

are affairs of state, it follows, that affairs of state depend on the direction

of  him  only,  who  holds  supreme  dominion.   
(4:2:2)   And hence it follows,

that  it  is  the  right of the supreme authority alone to judge the deeds of

every  individual,  and  demand of him an account of the same; to punish

criminals,  and  decide  questions  of  law  between  citizens,  or  appoint

jurists  acquainted  with  the existing laws, to administer these matters on

its  behalf;  and, further, to use and order all means to war and peace, as

to  found  and  fortify cities, levy soldiers, assign military posts, and order

what  it  would  have  done,  and,  with a view to peace, to send and give

audience  to  ambassadors;   and,  finally,  to  levy  the  costs  of  all  this.

[4:3]  (4:3:1)  Since,  then,  it  is  the  right  of the supreme authority alone to

handle  public  matters,  or  choose  officials  to do so, it follows, that that

subject   is   a   pretender  to  the  dominion,  who,  without  the  supreme

council's  knowledge, enters upon any public matter, although he believe

that   his   design   will   be   to  the  best  interest  of  the  commonwealth.

[4:4]  (4:4:1)  But  it  is often asked, whether the supreme authority is bound

by  laws,  and,  consequently, whether it can do wrong
(4:4:2)  Now as the

words  "law"  and  "wrong-doing"  often  refer  not merely to the laws of a

commonwealth,  but  also  to  the general rules which concern all natural    
     { Includes

things,  and especially to the general rules of reason, we cannot, without       Scientific Laws. }

qualification,  say that the commonwealth is bound by no laws, or can do

no  wrong.  
(4:4:3)  For  were  the commonwealth bound by no laws or rules,

which  removed,  the commonwealth were no commonwealth, we should

have  to  regard  it  not  as  a  natural  thing,  but  as  a  chimera.   
(4:4:4)  A

commonwealth  then  does wrong,  when  it  does,  or suffers to be done,

things  which  may  be  the  cause  of its own ruin; and we can say that it

then  does wrong, in the sense in which philosophers or doctors say that

nature  does wrong; and in this sense we can say, that a commonwealth

does  wrong,  when  it  acts  against  the  dictate  of  reason.  
(4:4:5)   For  a

commonwealth   is   most  independent  when  it  acts  according  to  the

dictate  of  reason  (3:7);  so  far,  then,  as  it acts against reason, it fails

itself,  or  does  wrong.  
(4:4:6)  And  we  shall  be able more easily to under-

stand  this  if  we  reflect,  that  when we say, that a man can do what he

will  with  his
 own, this authority must be limited not only by the power of

the  agent,  but  by  the  capacity of the object.  
(4:4:7)  If, for instance, I say

that  I  can  rightfully do what I will with this table, I do not certainly mean,

that  I  have  the  right  to make it eat grass.  
(4:4:8)  So, too, though we say,

that  men  depend  not  on themselves, but on the commonwealth, we do

not  mean, that men lose their human nature and put on another; nor yet

that  the  commonwealth  has  the  right to make men wish for this or that,

or  (what is just as impossible)  regard  with  honour  things  which excite

ridicule  or  disgust.  
(4:4:9)  But  it  is  implied,  that  there  are  certain inter-

vening   circumstances,   which  supposed,  one  likewise  supposes  the

reverence  and  fear  of  the  subjects  towards  the  commonwealth, and

which   abstracted,   one  makes  abstraction  likewise  of  that  fear  and

reverence,  and therewith of the commonwealth itself.
(4:4:10) The common-

wealth,  then,  to  maintain  its  independence,  is  bound to preserve the

causes  of  fear  and  reverence,  otherwise  it  ceases  to  be a common-

(4:4:11)  For  the  person  or  persons  that  hold  dominion,  can no

more  combine  with  the  keeping  up of majesty the running with harlots

drunk  or naked about the streets, or the performances of a stage-player,

or  the  open  violation  or  contempt of laws passed by themselves, than

they  can combine existence with non-existence.  
(4:4:12)  But to proceed to

slay  and  rob  subjects,  ravish  maidens,  and  the  like,  turns  fear

indignation and the civil state into a state of enmity.

[4:5]  (4:5:1)  We  see,  then,  in  what  sense  we  may  say, that a common-

wealth  is  bound  by  laws  and  can  do  wrong.  
(4:5:2)  But  if  by "law" we

understand civil law, and by "wrong" that which, by civil law, is forbidden

to  be  done,  that  is,  if  these  words be taken in their proper sense, we

cannot  at  all  say,  that  a  commonwealth  is  bound  by laws, or can do

(4:5:3)  For the maxims and motives of fear and reverence, which a

commonwealth  is  bound  to  observe  in  its  own interest, pertain not to
jungle }
civil   jurisprudence,  but  to the law of nature, since (4:4) they cannot be

vindicated  by  the  civil  law,  but by the law of war.  
(4:5:4)  And a common-

wealth is bound by them in no other sense than that in which in the state

of  nature  a  man  is  bound to take heed, that he preserve his independ-

ence  and  be  not his own enemy, lest he should destroy himself; and in

this  taking  heed  lies not the subjection, but the liberty of human nature.

(4:5:4)   But civil jurisprudence depends on the mere decree of the common-

wealth,  which  is not bound to please any but itself, nor to hold anything

to  be  good  or  bad,  but  what  it  judges  to be such for itself.  
(4:5:5)  And,

accordingly,  it  has  not  merely  the right to avenge itself, or to lay down

and  interpret  laws,  but  also  to  abolish  the  same,  and to pardon any

guilty person out of the fullness of its power.

[4:6]  (4:6:1)  Contracts  or  laws, whereby the multitude transfers its right to

one  council  or  man,  should without doubt be broken, when it is expedi-

ent  for  the  general  welfare  to  do  so.   
(4:6:2)  But  to  decide  this  point,

whether,  that is, it be expedient for the general welfare to break them or

not,  is  within  the  right  of  no private person, but of him only who holds

dominion  (4:3);  therefore of these laws he who holds dominion remains
sole  interpreter.  (4:6:3)  Moreover, no private person can by right vindicate

these  laws,  and  so  they  do  not  really  bind  him  who holds dominion.

(4:6:4)  Notwithstanding,  if  they  are  of  such  a nature that they cannot be

broken,   without   at   the   same  time  weakening  the  commonwealth's

strength,  that  is,  without  at  the  same time changing to indignation the

common  fear of most of the citizens, by this very fact the commonwealth

is  dissolved,  and  the  contract  comes  to  an  end;  and therefore such

contract   is   vindicated   not  by  the  civil  law,  but  by  the  law  of  war.

(4:6:5)  And  so  he  who  holds  dominion is not bound to observe the terms

of  the  contract  by  any  other  cause than that, which bids a man in the
jungle }
state  of  nature  to  beware  of  being  his  own  enemy,  lest  he  should

destroy himself, as we said in the last section.

PAGE 313

{ has most PcM }
(5:1:1)  IN  2:2,  we  showed, that man is then most independent, when

he  is  most  led by reason, and, in consequence (3:7), that that common-

wealth  is  most powerful  and  most  independent, which is founded and

guided  by reason.  
(5:1:2)  But, as the best plan of living, so as to assure to

the  utmost  self-preservation,  is  that  which  is  framed according to the

dictate of reason, therefore it follows, that that in every kind is best done,

which  a  man  or commonwealth does, so far as he or it is in the highest

degree  independent.  
(5:1:3)  For  it  is  one  thing to till a field by right, and

another  to  till  it  in  the  best  way.  
(5:1:4)  One  thing,  I  say, to defend or

preserve  one's  self,  and  to  pass  judgment  by  right,  and  another to

defend  or  preserve  one's  self  in  the  best  way,  and to pass the best

judgment;  and,  consequently, it  is one thing to have dominion and care

of  affairs  of  state  by right, and another to exercise dominion and direct

affairs  of  state  in  the best way.  
(5:1:5)  And so, as we have treated of the

right  of  every  commonwealth  in  general,  it  is time to treat of the best

state of every dominion.

[5:2]  (5:2:1)  Now  the  quality  of  the  state  of  any  dominion  is easily per-

ceived  from  the  end  of  the  civil  state,  which  end  is nothing else but
peace  and  security  of  life.  
(5:2:2)  And therefore that dominion is the best,

where  men  pass  their  lives  in  unity,  and  the laws are kept unbroken.

(5:2:2)  For  it  is certain, that seditions, wars, and contempt or breach of the

laws  are  not  so  much  to be imputed to the wickedness of the subjects,
I disagree }
as  to  the  bad  state  of  a  dominion.  (5:2:3)  For  men  are  not born fit for
citizenship,  but  must be made so.  (5:2:4)  Besides, men's natural passions

are  everywhere  the  same;  and  if wickedness more prevails, and more

offences  are  committed  in  one  commonwealth  than  in  another,  it  is

certain  that  the  former  has  not  enough  pursued the end of unity, nor

framed  its  laws  with  sufficient  forethought;  and  that, therefore, it has

failed  in making quite good its right as a commonwealth.  
(5:2:5)  For a civil

state,  which has not done away with the causes of seditions, where war

is a perpetual object of fear, and where, lastly, the laws are often broken,
jungle }
differs  but  little  from  the  mere  state of nature, in which everyone lives

after his own mind at the great risk of his life.

[5:3]  (5:3:1)  But  as  the  vices  and  inordinate  licence  and  contumacy of

subjects  must  be  imputed  to the commonwealth, so, on the other hand,

their  virtue and constant obedience to the laws are to be ascribed in the

main  to  the  virtue  and  perfect  right  of the commonwealth, as is clear

from  C2:15.  
(5:3:2)  And  so  it  is  deservedly  reckoned to Hannibal as an

extraordinary   virtue,   that  in  his  army  there  never  arose  a  sedition.

(Justin, Histories, xxxii. iv. 12.)

[5:4]  (5:4:1)  Of  a  commonwealth,  whose  subjects  are  but  hindered  by

terror  from  taking  arms,  it should rather be said, that it is free from war,

than  that  it  has peace.  
(5:4:2)  For peace is not mere absence of war, but

is  a  virtue  that  springs  from force of character: for obedience (2:19) is

the  constant  will to execute what, by the general decree of the common-

wealth,  ought  to  be  done. 
(5:4:3)   Besides  that  commonwealth,  whose

peace  depends  on  the  sluggishness  of its subjects, that are led about

like  sheep,  to  learn  but  slavery, may more properly be called a desert

than a commonwealth.

[5:5]  (5:5:1)   When, then, we call that dominion best, where men pass their

lives  in  unity, I understand a human life, defined not by mere circulation

of  the blood, and other qualities common to all animals, but above all by

reason, the true excellence and life of the mind.

[5:6]  (5:6:1)  But  be  it  remarked that, by the dominion which I have said is

established  for  this end,  I  intend that which has been established by a

free  multitude, not that which is acquired over a multitude by right of war.

(5:6:2)  For  a free multitude is guided more by hope than fear; a conquered

one,  more  by  fear  than  hope:  inasmuch as the former aims at making

use  of
 life, the latter but at escaping death.  (5:6:3)  The former, I say, aims

at  living  for  its own ends, the latter is forced to belong to the conqueror;
Bk.XIB:10232, 18494.
and  so  we  say  that  this is enslaved, but that free.  (5:6:4)  And, therefore,

the  end  of  a  dominion,  which one gets by right of war, is to be master,

and  have  rather  slaves  than subjects.  
(5:6:5)  And although between the

dominion  created  by  a  free  multitude,
 and  that gained by right of war,

if  we  regard  generally  the  right  of  each,  we  can  make no essential

distinction;  yet  their  ends,  as  we have already shown, and further the

means to the preservation of each are very different.

[5:7]  (5:7:1)  But what means a prince, whose sole motive is lust of mastery,

should  use  to  establish and maintain his dominion, the most ingenious
Machiavelli  has  set  forth  at  large,   (In his book called "Il Principe," or "The

Prince")  but  with  what  design one can hardly be sure.  (5:7:2)  If, however,

he  had  some  good  design,  as  one  should  believe  of a learned man,

it  seems  to have been to show, with how little foresight many attempt to

remove  a  tyrant,  though  thereby  the  causes which make the prince a

tyrant  can
 in no wise be removed, but, on the contrary, are so much the

more  established,  as  the  prince  is  given  more  cause  to
 fear, which

happens  when  the  multitude  has  made  an  example of its prince, and
glories  in  the  parricide  as  in  a  thing  well  done.   (5:7:3)   Moreover,  he

perhaps  wished  to  show  how  cautious  a  free  multitude should be of

entrusting  its  welfare  absolutely  to  one man, who, unless in his vanity

he  thinks  he  can  please  everybody, must be in daily fear of plots, and

so   is
  forced  to  look  chiefly  after  his  own  interest,  and,  as  for  the

multitude,  rather  to  plot  against  it than consult its good.  
(5:7:4)  And I am

the   more   led   to  this  opinion  concerning  that  most  far-seeing  man,

because  it  is  known  that  he  was favourable to liberty, for the mainten-
ance   of   which   he  has  besides  given  the  most  wholesome  advice.


End of Chapter V

JBY Endnotes: 

TPI:Endnote 1:4:2 - From Bk.XIB:157Mock.


Since August 12, 1998 PT Part 1 hits.

A Political Treatise - Part 1

Revised: September 18, 2006

MiniCD of Entire Site

Part 1 -   Preface - Table of Contents - Chapters I to V 
Part 2 - Table of Contents - Chapters VI and VII 
Part 3 - Table of Contents - Chapters VIII to XI