The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic

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

and consequently discharged of his obligation to the former. For no man can serve two masters.

16. Lastly, ignorance of the succession dischargeth obedience; for no man can be understood to be obliged to obey he knoweth not whom.


CHAPTER XXII*
OF THE POWER OF MASTERS

1. HAVING set forth, in the two preceding chapters, the nature of a commonwealth institutive, by the consent of many men together; I come now to speak of dominion, or a body politic by acquisition, which is commonly called a patrimonial kingdom. But before I enter thereinto: it is necessary to make known, upon what title one man may acquire right, that is to say, property or dominion, over the person of another. For when one man hath dominion over another, there is a little kingdom; and to be a king by acquisition, is nothing else, but to have acquired a right or dominion over many.

2. Considering men therefore again in the state of nature, without covenants or subjection one to another, as if they were but even now all at once created male and female; there be three titles only, by which one man may have right and dominion over another; whereof two may take place presently, and those are: voluntary offer of subjection, and yielding by compulsion; the third is to take place, upon the supposition of children begotten amongst them. Concerning the first of these three titles, it is handled before in the two last chapters; for from thence cometh the right of sovereigns* over their subjects in a commonwealth institutive. Concerning the second title (which is when a man submitteth to an assailant for fear of death), thereby accrueth a right of dominion. For where every man (as it happeneth in this case) hath right to all things, there needs no more for the making of the said right effectual, but a covenant from him

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