Hobbes's Behemoth on Ambition, Greed,and Fear

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The aim of this paper is to make a contribution to the debate on whether and to what extent the account of human motivation offered by Hobbes in Leviathan provides an insight into the narrative of Behemoth. Specifically, the paper examines the role that the three passions singled out by Hobbes in Chapter 13 of Leviathan as leading to conflict -namely desire of gain, fear for safety, and ambition- play in his own account of the Civil War. The paper makes the following two claims: (i) although Hobbes resorts to two of the greatest motivational forces described in Leviathan, namely, ambition and greed, to explain the sources and dynamics of the English Civil War, in Behemoth he adds the crucial proviso that these passions alone, without widespread ignorance about the meaning and value of civil obedience, would have found no hands; (ii) regarding the third greatest human motivation, namely fear, we witness a major change in the transition from Leviathan to Behemoth in so far as Hobbes renounces the idea that fear is the passion to be reckoned upon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages26
JournalFilozofski Vestnik/Acta Philosophica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Thomas Hobbes
  • Behemoth
  • ambition
  • fear
  • desire of gain
  • money
  • ignorance


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