The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic

By Thomas Hobbes; J. C. A. Gaskin | Go to book overview

that are gone from us long ago, and have left us no other signification thereof but their books; which cannot possibly be understood without history enough to discover those aforementioned circumstances, and also without great prudence to observe them.

9. When it happeneth that a man signifieth unto us two contradictory opinions whereof the one is clearly and directly signified, and the other either drawn from that by consequence, or not known to be contradictory to it; then (when he is not present to explicate himself better) we are to take the former of his opinions; for that is clearly signified to be his, and directly, whereas the other might proceed from error in the deduction, or ignorance of the repugnancy. The like also is to be held in two contradictory expressions of a man's intention and will, for the same reason.

10. Forasmuch as whosoever speaketh to another, intendeth thereby to make him understand what he saith; if he speak unto him, either in a language which he that heareth understandeth not, or use any word in other sense than he believeth is the sense of him that heareth; he intendeth also to make him not understand what he saith; which is a contradiction of himself. It is therefore always to be supposed, that he which intendeth not to deceive, alloweth the private interpretation of his speech to him to whom it is addressed.

11. Silence in them that think it will be so taken, is a sign of consent; for so little labour being required to say No, it is to be presumed, that in this case he that saith it not, consenteth.*


CHAPTER XIV*
OF THE ESTATE AND RIGHT OF NATURE

1. IN the precedent chapters* hath been set forth the whole nature of man, consisting in the powers natural of his body and mind, and may all be comprehended in these four: strength of body, experience, reason, and passion.

-77-

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