The counterpart of "Punishment" in the Leviathan is "Reward." "Reward" is granted to a subject by public authority and may take the form of either a "Gift" (if it is given by the grace of the public authority), or a "Salary" (if it is given in return for a service). The interplay between punishment and reward makes the Leviathan function properly, and, in the language of the body metaphor, they are "the Nerves and Tendons, that move the limbes and joynts of a Commonwealth."

Hobbes concludes his discussion of a properly functioning commonwealth and now considers a commonwealth in disarray--an unhealthy Leviathan. Hobbes likens a defectively conceived commonwealth to a "Defectuous Procreation": a birth defect. An unhealthy or unstable Leviathan can arise: 1) if the sovereign lacks absolute power; 2) if actions are determined as good or evil by every private individual, rather than by civil law; 3) if the subjects hold the mistaken belief that one's individual conscience should always take precedence over civil duty; 4) if the subjects maintain faith in supernatural phenomena, rather than in the learned doctrine instituted by the sovereign, thus challenging the sovereign's authority over knowledge; 5) if the sovereign is subject to the laws he creates; 6) if the subjects maintain a sense of individual propriety over personal goods, thus resisting the sovereign's rightful claim to all properties of the commonwealth; 7) if individuals divide up the sovereign power among themselves; 8) if the commonwealth imitates the governments of other nations; 9) if the commonwealth imitates the Greeks and Romans; 10) if the Leviathan divides civil and spiritual or religious authority; 11) if the government is a mixed government of varying modes of administration; and in a few other situations. All these conditions, whether "birth defects" born with the Leviathan or "diseases" that have appeared over time, will eventually lead to divisiveness within the Leviathan, which will in turn lead to civil war.

The office of the sovereign is designed to "procure the safety of the people." When this office is no longer fulfilled, the soul has disappeared from the Leviathan, and it is merely a corpse. Sovereignty dissolves during civil war and also during an international war if the enemy is victorious. At the moment the Leviathan collapses, the subjects are thrust back into the state of nature, once again left to protect themselves with whatever powers they may against the powers of others.

To avoid this horrible outcome, Hobbes writes, it is necessary merely to follow the philosophy of his text and thereby obey the sovereign in all things that will facilitate the sovereign's ability to protect the commonwealth. Hobbes anticipates a possible objection, in that the commands of the sovereign may be contrary or repugnant to the laws of God. A subject must avoid civil punishment, but, in so doing, must also avoid divine punishment. So it is necessary to know the laws of God and to what extent they correspond to the laws of the sovereign. The natural laws of God are dictated by natural reason (which derives ultimately from God as the Prime Mover), and Hobbes has already demonstrated that natural laws are the foundation of the Leviathan. But God also ordains prophetical law, and the project of Book III of Leviathan is to apply Hobbes's philosophic method to the discernment of this prophetical law.


Hobbes's argument in Book II straddles the line between philosophical description (i.e. deduction) of a contractual commonwealth and political prescription (i.e. utopia) for the institution of the ideal society. This section of Hobbes's text is concerned with the details of sovereign administration and the structure of the Leviathanic legal system. When coupled with the previous section, it provides a blueprint for engineering a new political structure. Had Hobbes's text had its intended political effect--to inspire the reconstruction of the English nation--the plans for the architecture and the systems of the Leviathan have been thoroughly outlined.

While Hobbes repeatedly insists that he is deducing his conclusions through his geometric method, by fancifully imagining the hypothetical perfect government, he undermines his scientific (i.e. analytic) pretensions. It bears repeating that Hobbes's text is a mixed bag of genres and written forms. In these last chapters of Book II, Leviathan resembles the writings of governmental reform and political propaganda, reminiscent of the political pamphlets circulating in this period between the Civil Wars and the Restoration; yet these chapters also suggest the conventions of utopian romance.